KLI’s First Freshman Half

“Start off your semester by learning the art of making life better,” KLI promised the ~50 freshmen on the first ever “half retreat,” which took place from Friday, Jan. 19 to Sunday, 21. Director of Social Innovation and Impact Gemma Bulos and Senior Director of Social Innovation & Co-Curricular Programming at KLI Scott Sherman delivered exactly what they promised. According to the attendees, KLI’s weekend retreat at the Pali Mountain was refreshing and even “life-changing.” The whole idea behind the retreat was to give freshmen the necessary tools to improve their time management skills, resilience, and creativity. It was a reminder that the strong and genuine connections are what make us feel like we belong here and not the empty promises to get meals together. It was a reminder to do things that make you happy on a daily basis. Freshman Half was all about the following slogans:

  • Only Connect
  • Try Everything
  • If you want to be happy, make others happy!
  • If anything can go wrong, fix it!
  • Failure is a gift
  • Take risks—boldness has genius, power, and magic in it

The retreat began once I sat down next to my “new BFF” (obviously a person who I had never spoken to before) and started to discuss my most embarrassing story. This set the tone for the entire weekend: making new and genuine connections. Coming up with secret handshakes, singing our favorite songs, and busting out dance moves created such a fun atmosphere with people I had never met before. Freshman Half gave me the chance to meet some beautiful people, all while running around the room dancing and singing.

For one of the activities, we were asked to lay on each other's stomachs. Here's how it went down:


One of my favorite parts was writing in a bright orange journal that KLI gave us. We were asked to write about cherished memories—things we did in our childhood that gave us happiness that we could do for countless hours. Thanks to this, I realized I hadn’t painted in months and missed it. Writing down parts of my life that make me extremely happy on paper validated them and pushed me to do them more. We were also asked to write individual bucket lists for the next four years, which were then all displayed together: a bucket list exhibition of sorts. What a beautifully inspiring sight it was to see 50 students' hopes and dreams all in one room. We were asked to write our names next to someone else’s point if we wanted to do it as well or felt like we could help the other person check it off. Because of this, it turns out my roommate and I will be taking an art class together soon, and I finally found people to accompany me to Joshua Tree! While originally we were supposed to go zip-lining, it started snowing up on the mountains. Bulos and Sherman decided to take us indoor skydiving soon instead, which had been on many of our bucket lists too, including my own for years. 

On Sunday morning, we were asked to write positive post-its and stick them to each other’s backs. It was one of the most encouraging and fulfilling events that I have experienced at CMC. I came home with many lunch plans, phone numbers, and the memory of being called a “little ball of pure joy.” I found this activity to be so interesting that I ended up putting all these post-its on display in my room.

Towards the end, Bulos and Sherman asked us to write some of our most embarrassing stories on a piece of paper. The retreat ended with 50+ people all in one tiny room reading, embracing, and laughing at each other’s embarrassing stories. All of us came back to campus with the aim of doing more of what makes us happy, managing our time better, and filling ourselves with more positivity.