‘A really great de-stressor’: Students gather for Llamapalooza

Photo of Llamapalooza
Matt Gibson/Senior Staff
Students gather on Memorial Glade in Llamapalooza, an event promoting mental health and well-being.

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Students filled up Memorial Glade on Friday to spend some quality time with llamas at the campus-hosted Llamapalooza event.

Llamapalooza, a UC Berkeley tradition that began in 2014, is an event organized every semester by the ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP. According to AAVP James Weichert, llamas are brought to campus to help students relax and de-stress before upcoming finals and Reading, Review and Recitation Week.

“It’s a good way to start off the week on a happy note,” said campus sophomore Arpine Sinani at the event. “This is my break, and afterward, I have to study hard.”

Students shared laughs and smiles as they pet and took selfies with the eight llamas.

Many students expressed both feelings of joy and calm at the event. Kiera Fulton, a campus sophomore, had just finished her last class of the semester before spending some time with the llamas on the glade.

“I got to pet a llama for a while and I got a really cool picture of one,” Fulton said at the event. “It is a really great de-stressor.”

According to Weichert, the ASUC wanted to expand the scope of Llamapalooza to focus on the importance of mental health this year. Counseling and Psychological Services, the ASUC Mental Health Commission and other registered student organizations were invited to the event to discuss wellness and mental health.

Weichert said he hoped the event would serve as an opportunity for students to take care of their mental well-being. He added that he hopes that this year’s event will bring attention to students’ mental health needs and will help start conversations with campus leaders about the issue.

“It has not been an easy year or semester for anyone, so hopefully this provides a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” Weichert said at the event.

Weichert added that in addition to administrators visiting the Glade to discuss mental health, the ASUC also planned for yoga and meditation to take place on the Glade later on in the day.

The llamas came all the way from Sonora, California, with George Caldwell, the owner of Llamas of Circle Home. Caldwell noted he has been working with llamas since 1983 and believes llamas to be beneficial for individuals struggling with their mental health.

“You can see everywhere the llamas are, there are smiles, there’s happiness, there’s relaxation,” Caldwell said. “Llamas can reconnect people — there’s just something about them.”

According to Caldwell, llamas represent harmony and love. He enjoys bringing his llamas to campus due to the joy they bring to so many students.

Madison Brown, a campus freshman, said that spending time with the llamas reduced her anxiety and relieved some of her stress before finals.

“Finals week is super stressful,” Brown said at the event. “I think everyone just needed some llamas.”

Contact Dima Aboukasm at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @DimaAboukasm.