During intersession, opportunities to reflect and serve
Participants in the third annual Halftime Retreat — “a midterm assessment” for sophomores.
Participants in the third annual Halftime Retreat — “a midterm assessment” for sophomores.
Courtesy Thomas Dunne

Not all students traveled home for intersession at the end of January: Sixteen sophomores spent time reflecting on their Princeton experience during the third annual Halftime Retreat, while about 180 students volunteered in Princeton and Trenton as part of a new community-service program.  

Halftime Retreat is “a midterm assessment,” said Thomas Dunne, associate dean of undergraduate students, who led the gathering at the Carmel Retreat Center in Mahwah, N.J. “The goal is to encourage students, both individually and in groups, to reflect on their Princeton experience thus far — and to use those reflections to identify plans for the remainder of their time at Princeton.”  

Working with alumni, faculty, and other administrators, the sophomores took part in journaling exercises, group discussions, and activities that focused on contemplation of academic and personal goals.

“The retreat gave me an opportunity to take a step back and consider my thoughts, expectations, and future plans together from a relaxed and thoughtful standpoint,” said Lewis Kerwin ’12.  

The retreat was also an opportunity for sophomores to meet new people in their class through an “in-depth experience,” much like the Outdoor Action camping trip is for freshmen, Dunne said.

“I stay in close touch with many of the people who attended, and am lucky to have some among my absolute best friends at Princeton,” said Henry Barmeier ’10, a Rhodes scholar who attended the retreat two years ago.  

The weeklong community-service program, called Inter-Action, was organized by the Pace Center, the University’s civic-engagement hub. The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) sponsored the program after a referendum vote to support service projects with funds initially designated for a fall lawnparties concert.

Inter-Action gave many students their first chance to become involved with community organizations like the Rescue Mission of Trenton and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. One group joined in renovations of the aging Trenton YWCA building.  

“I felt embarrassed that as a student, I’ve lived in Mercer County for a year and   a half now and know almost nothing about Princeton or Trenton,” said Alexis Morin ’12.