Let this be the year to build campus community

I had a fun summer. I spent two months working with Peaslee Neighborhood Center in Over-the-Rhine as a part of the Center for Faith and Justice’s Summer Service Internship program, and oh man, did I learn quite a bit.

I’m going to share a little bit of what I learned, mainly focusing on the one thing that has been a constant theme in my life: community.

So, communities are freaking incredible.

The Summer Service Internship (SSI, for short) was a cohort of 20 that all lived together in Brockman Hall and worked at 20 different non-profits in the Greater Cincinnati area, and it was an intentional community. An intentional community is when a group of people get together and say, “Hey, let’s live in community, so let’s set these rules and follow them.” It’s having weekly dinners, where one group cooks, one sets up the area and one group cleans. It’s always being there for others and listening to how their day went when you know yours was just as long. It’s having one-on-ones and learning about the people beside you in a deep, intentional manner.

Outside of the actual living situations, I found some pretty great communities within the city of Cincinnati. I found a community of people through my work at Peaslee. I became involved with Black Lives Matter Cincinnati, and I wound up marching through the streets with dozens of like-minded people, all standing together for something we all believed in.

I also did my best to build community everywhere that I went. I spoke to everyone that I could. I learned people’s names, where they were from, what they loved, what gave them passion and how they thought. With the kids I was working with, I learned what Roblox is — although, only kind of. It’s apparently the new version of Minecraft for kids.

I also learned which kids were afraid of spiders. I learned which kids loved reading, and I learned which kids thought everyone viewed them as stupid. I learned which kids didn’t think they had a voice.

I tried my best to help them realize the power that they all have. I tried to tell them that power is only their awareness of their intrinsic ability to enact change. I can only hope that a few of them believed me and now are able to recognize the power that they have.

Building community is something that I love. It’s the most crucial thing there is. Community is the only way that we can all overcome the oppressive systems that are present in this world. Building community is one thing that anyone can do to make change. You don’t have to be an insanely friendly person that knows everyone to build community. You don’t have to have dozens of talents. You don’t even have to be that good at talking to different people. All you need to build community is to be yourself and to be open to the ideas and thoughts of everyone around you.

By: Kevin Thomas ~Campus News Editor~