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OTTA United holds multi-day, organization-wide retreat in San Diego

OTTA United holds multi-day, organization-wide retreat in San Diego

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Benjamin Wang, Staff

Our Time to Act (OTTA) United is all about organizing, community, and consensus-building. These values are embodied in the work that OTTA United does for our communities. Twice a year, OTTA United reaffirms its commitment to these principles by holding an organization-wide retreat. These retreats allow OTTA United staff and board to come together as an OTTA United family and strengthen our personal and professional relationships.

On December 9th and 10th, 2022, OTTA United held its second retreat in California and its first in San Diego. OTTA United members flew into San Diego from as far away as New York to make the most of this staff bonding and professional development opportunity. OTTA United’s winter retreat struck a perfect balance between work and play, with visits to the Cabrillo National Monument and Liberty Station in between trainings led by OTTA United leaders. Workshops on topics such as Community Organizing, led by Director of Services Apurv Gupta, and Event Programming, led by Director of Communications Isaac Lara, allowed us to sharpen our skills in a welcoming space surrounded by the people that make OTTA United special.

Let’s hear from our Director of Services, Apurv Gupta, about the retreat.

Hey Apurv! It’s so nice to see you again. Could you introduce yourself and your role within OTTA United? What does your role entail?

My name is Apurv Gupta and I’m the Director of Services here at OTTA United. My role usually involves designing and producing services for the organization; these would be internal or external programs that can empower youth directly. My work tends to be a mix of research, advocacy, event-planning, and managing logistics.

On day 1 of the retreat, you facilitated a workshop on Community Organizing. Could you talk a little bit about your workshop?

Of course! OTTA United recently decided to shift our organizational focus into Community Organizing, a practice that empowers youth through a development of their capacity. Prior to this shift, I did a lot of research in organizing, and worked with Aidan – our wonderful Executive Director – to plan out some potential programs and applications of the approach. Not everyone on the team, however, had as comprehensive of an understanding, and my workshop aimed to build upon that so everyone was in the loop. In the workshop, I talked about the 3 types of changemaking - lone wolf, mobilizing, and organizing - and how each was significant in their own way. The training also had a lot of activities that gave OTTA United members a lens into organizing and how that could look for the organization or for themselves. Overall, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and I’m excited to see how OTTA United embraces organizing in the future!

Last but not least, I wanted to ask about what this retreat meant to you. Do you have any memories or takeaways from the retreat that you can share with us?

This retreat was, by far, my most memorable professional experience. The majority of our staff population lives in San Diego, and I live all the way up in the Bay Area; the physical distance often means I feel more disconnected from the team than I’d like. But the retreat brought me closer to every single person in OTTA United. I underestimated how fun we can be, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be myself around them. The list of memories is extremely long but I’ll go through a few, hopefully keeping things brief. I could talk about bonding over Korean Chicken Wings and Frank Sinatra with Tommy; spending 4 hours working with Ben and Ken on a speech while also guessing Ken’s middle name (we still don’t know); laughing with Isaac and Leana while sharing our mutual love for Keshi; playing Super Smash Ultimate with Donovan and Ken and getting absolutely demolished; flying out with Rachel, Andrew, and Ken in an absurd amount of giddiness; and having intimate, personal conversations with everyone on the team, especially Aidan. I’ve left out about a hundred significant moments, but I’m so grateful for OTTA United and for our team. I’ve never been in a community so diverse yet so powerful, and I’m always going to cherish that.

In the end, the success of OTTA United’s winter retreat can be attributed to the perfect balance of work and play as well as the meticulous and careful planning of Rachel Choy, OTTA United’s Assistant Director of Communications. Alongside the efforts of Isaac Lara, OTTA United’s Director of Communications, Rachel’s diligent work and attention to detail made the event possible in the first place. This retreat was a wonderful way to renew our commitment to OTTA United’s values and principles while also fostering deeper connections among the OTTA United staff and board. We look forward to many more awesome retreats in the months and years ahead!

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