We in the Office of Community Engagement began this academic year with a phrase ringing in our hearts: “Just a small dot in a huge, incredible world, trying to do big things.” These words, given to us by our friend and colleague Anne Davis, describe the spirit that we have embodied in our work of education, partnership, and positive change.
Students often describe a sense of awe about this huge, incredible world as they engage with community. By developing relationships in community, they see how complex and difficult life is for so many. Discovering that those very relationships can empower positive action often reveals purpose and joy. One student described how her community engagement landed her squarely in “that moment where my heart and mind sort of clicked and I had one of those ‘this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing’ moments.”
As we look forward to the spring, we know that many feel fear and apprehension due to an increase in reports of racist and anti-Semitic incidents. In the OCE, we remain firmly committed to our mission: connecting the university and community to support students’ development as active and educated citizens, and to promote positive, community-driven social change.
In the coming year, you will see us incorporating civic engagement into service programs, integrating new content in our classes, creating spaces for honest discussion from diverse perspectives, and acting on our relentless dedication to inclusion and justice. Through education, curiosity about each other’s lives, and intentional involvement in issues that affect us all, each of us small dots is better able to do big things for our community, together.