How do you define community? Is it those directly around you? Those you go to school with? Those who live in the same space as yourself? At ASD we talk about community a whole lot, and often the term community is fluid and flexible. In the Office of Service Learning we've had lots of conversations around the topic, often related to words such as "appreciation", "celebration" or "diversity". But try as we might, there are sometimes functional differences that create unintended distance between different members of our community.
It is with the elimination of such distances that the Office of Service Learning works with a number of organizations - in this case namely the MS counseling office and the NJHS and MS Ambassadors program - to generate a bridge between our students, faculty and the people who work on our campus daily, and are integral in the success of our students, but who might go less noticed due to the nature of their work. As with previous years, this years appreciation for our working community, took place in December.
The approach this year was that by focusing on the celebration of diversity with those who we share this space, it will generate a better connection between all our community members, even if we might have difficulty speaking their language or we have larger cultural differences. The series of advisory sessions, the lunch and the activities provided by the MS students all formed a special "day" for all of us.
They say "it takes a village" and at ASD we take the time to bridge gaps between our constituents so as to build a greater sense of community where we are. After all, the world is so much of a better place when we know each other's name and take the time to share our stories as well. Not only does that challenge assumptions, but is also allows us to appreciate the whole of humanity right here!