The following post is credited to second-year student Sawako Sonoyama.


First-Year Retreats at SIPA

Not sure what your concentration should be? It may be confusing to know which concentration is right for you during the application stage. However, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to learn about all of the different concentrations at the beginning of your first semester before you have to decide. One perfect way to explore if a concentration is right for you is to go on a Retreat.

Every year during the first month of the Fall semester, almost all of the Concentrations, Specializations, and Specific Degree Programs will offer a Retreat for first-year students. There are so many retreats to choose from! In one weekend, a SIPA first-year must decide between the International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) retreat , the United Nations Study Program (UNSP) retreat, or the Energy and Environment Retreat. These retreats have many objectives: to convince those who are uncertain about their path, to make new friends amongst those who are interested, to introduce the faculty and advisors involved, and to create your family at SIPA.


It is true that your concentration becomes somewhat of your family during your 2-year life at SIPA and I was able to find this family through my concentration retreat.  As an Economic and Political Development (EPD) student, going to the EPD retreat last year was one of the best decisions I made. Looking back, I made the majority of my SIPA friends this weekend at the EPD retreat. We still laugh about the inside jokes and the corky activities we shared from that weekend. (Can’t tell you what we did exactly, don’t want to ruin the surprise!)

Retreat 2009

EPD Retreat 2009

Recently I had the pleasure of going on the EPD retreat again as a second year. I was chosen to help organize the retreat by creating community building activities, facilitating discussions, and answering a lot of “first-year” questions.  I was pleasantly surprised that I actually could give some advice, considering just a year ago I was lost and clueless about what courses, concentrations, etc.  It is quite incredible how much we learned in one short year and also scary that we will be graduating next spring.

Overall, it was nostalgic and wonderful to return back to where we started as EPD students just a year ago. I am happy to have made a lot of first-year friends while reconnecting with my 2nd year EPD friends. From what we could observe, the first-years seem to have had a great time and successfully created their family as well. I hope that they loved the EPD retreat as much as I did,  and encourage all future SIPA students to go on at least one retreat when they arrive to SIPA.


EPD Retreat 2010—2nd years