Diversity Advocacy recently coordinated an overnight retreat for students in an effort to increase their multicultural awareness. The iQuest Diversity Retreat engaged students in activities and critical discussions while expanding students’ understanding of diversity.

Kelisha Shrestha was a first-time participant of the retreat who had an incredible experience, saying it was “one of the most diverse, educational, and amazing programs” she has had since moving to the United States. Shrestha is from Nepal and found iQuest to be a great opportunity to share her experiences from home. She decided to attend the retreat because she has experienced gender discrimination in the past, so she wanted to engage in discussion as well as connect with other students from diverse backgrounds.

Shrestha shares that the most challenging part of the retreat was hearing everyone’s stories and backgrounds. “Listening to the hardships other students have gone through was tough,” she said. But doing this helped her feel a strong connection with the other iQuest participants and she enjoyed hearing their various perspectives. What impacted her most from the retreat was seeing people beyond the stereotypes. The retreat created such an inclusive environment, she said. Shrestha’s experiences from iQuest have sparked her interest in diversity and women’s empowerment. She feels inspired to make a difference, noting that she has “found the importance of leading with compassion and diversity.”

For more information about the iQuest retreat or other cultural events offered through Diversity Advocacy, call (309) 438-8968.

Marie Huels contributed to this article.