Transfer Student Aya Kawkab Reflects on First-Year Virtual Retreat Experience

Aya Kawkab FYR student reflectionAya Kawkab, bottom far right, a transfer accountancy and finance student in USD's School of Business, reflects on her attendance at a recent University Ministry First-Year Student Retreat.

University Ministry’s traditional First-Year Retreat took place on Sept. 25-27. Typically, this event is a weekend getaway from campus. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with mostly remote learning in place, this retreat took place exclusively online. To reflect on this unique experience, the USD News Center asked Aya Kawkab, a transfer from San Diego City College and a USD School of Business double major in accountancy and finance, to provide her perspective.

My life has had many experiences that could qualify as life-changing. Each experience, good or bad, has informed the course my life has taken. The most transformative experience so far was coming to the United States as a refugee from Syria in 2016. I had to learn English as my third language during my first year here. It is amazing to me that four years later I am able to attend the University of San Diego. Choosing to attend the First-Year Retreat at USD was a transformative experience, shaping my time as a student and informing my future in powerful ways.

The retreat was truly a unique experience because I've never been to one before this one. I thank and praise God for the retreat as it enriched my spiritual life in new and unexpected ways. I now feel that God is showing me that He will always provide for my needs when I turn to Him. He used everyone at the retreat as His instruments to show me how much He cares.

This retreat helped to partially fill a need I have for retreat time. It has been especially helpful to have practical tools to process events in our world. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate. I loved meeting new people and building new, strong relationships with others, and more importantly with God. I can’t easily explain it, but after attending the retreat for three days I feel I am a new person, who was just born. Being able to love and be loved by family and friends is so significant.

At the beginning of the retreat I was kind of shy, but step by step I felt more at ease. The retreat taught me there is nothing impossible to do with God. The time together allowed me to form great relationships with fellow students. I feel I belong in this community, connected and truly at home. I hope to be able to join other retreats and be able to help other new students in similar ways that the leadership at this retreat supported and encouraged me.

Since that day there is nothing anyone could ever say to convince me that one person cannot change a nation. One person can do unbelievable things. All it takes is that one person who's willing to risk everything to make it happen.” - Sam Childers

— Aya Kawkab


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