topic_interest is exactly community engagement
Sarah Uhlig Oral History, 2020/03/14During this interview, I am talking with my classmate Sarah Uhlig about our experience in the program of Empower: Ecuador, since we were both on it together. The main purpose of this interview was to get an insight into what it was for another student like me, to have missed a trip to Ecuador due to COVID-19. Just to clarify, this was not any trip. This was a missionary trip for which we were preparing ourselves to go for most of the semester. As the trip was canceled, we recognized that the program was much more than just traveling to Ecuador. Rather, the program was about our personal lives and the way in which we relate to others around us that are in different seasons and circumstances in life. Another very important thing, was self-reflection into how we were utilizing our gifts and field of interest to not only serve others but be present with others. Many things were learned from this course and Sarah, will be sharing with you her experience despite the challenges and messiness that COVID-19 brought.
Oral History: Clare AcostaThrough this oral history, Clare Acosta and I develop a conversation about both the Community Engagement office work and the program of Empower: Ecuador. The conversation was specifically focused on the before and after of COVID-19 and also what was learned from the process. It is a very deep conversation that I really enjoyed and know that Clare also did.
Community Engagement: Transitioning to ZoomPrevious to COVID-19, everything related to community engagement was hands-on, face-to-face, and in-person. However, right after spring break in 2020, everything changed because of COVID-19, and new ways of interacting with the community and each other were used. To demonstrate this I uploaded for this item a screenshot from the Instagram page of the Community Engagement Office of St. Mary's University. Almost none of us were used to zoom and in a couple of weeks zoom turned into the number one platform used by businesses and schools as a means of communication and our community engagement was not the exception. One of the activities that were made during COVID-19 was a Netflix Party through zoom with many students engaged through the network. As a personal experience, I was part of a group/class called Empower: Ecuador that was very focused on personal relationships and community building, and transitioning to zoom was not easy. However, we were able to culminate our semester and encounter new ways to connect with each other through zoom and other social platforms in meaningful ways while keeping each other safe from getting sick. It was a matter of caring for each other so deeply that connecting in person was no longer an option, but our intentionality to connect and interact with each other grew in many other creative ways to achieve the goal of community engagement despite all the difficulties that we were all going through.
The Official Cancelation of Our FlightEach of the members of the flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador, was deeply connected with the purpose of traveling which was to be present with the neighbors in Ecuador. Some of us thought that the main purpose of the course, Empower: Ecuador, was to travel. To some extent it was, but after the trip cancelation, we realized there was also another greater purpose. The greater purpose was to grow in vulnerability, spirituality, and in self-reflection. To learn how to be vulnerable with others and share your journey in life and understand how God was working through all the messiness was really hard, but through this course, it happened. The trip cancelation was very sad but because of it, we learned how to be connected despite the distance. Letters were sent from us to each of the neighbors in Ecuador, zoom meetings were held with the team in different ways, and journals were written with our most inner thoughts and reflections. Additional to this, each of us got a voucher to travel for the rest of the year, which in my case I used to travel to see my loved ones in Puerto Rico and Arizona. Seeing my loved ones probably wouldn't have happened if it was not for this voucher and I was very grateful for it. Yes, it was bad that our trip was canceled but many blessings came out of this. During COVID-19 many bad things happened and are happening, however, many blessings and good things also happened and are happening. I think it is very important to also share those good things to motivate others and push each other up out of all the darkness. To express this story I am sharing a screenshot of an email that confirmed the trip cancelation and that also announced to us that we were going to have a voucher to travel. The email was from our leader Clare.
"Ways to Connect Despite Social Distance: Empower Ecuador"When being part of the program Empower: Ecuador at my school, we were preparing ourselves to travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador to be present with the families in the community. The families in the community were called our neighbors. Prior to traveling and meeting families in person, each person from the class was given a bookmark with a picture of a neighbor and a brief description of who they were. We were supposed to pray for the person selected and have him/her in our hearts until we meet them in person. Due to COVID-19, we were never able to meet these people whom we felt very close to and it was very sad. Therefore, we were tasked with the beautiful idea of writing letters to them about our prayers and best wishes for them in times of trouble. After a couple of months, I received a message through Messenger, and to my surprise, it was the person I wrote the letter to. She was thanking me for the letter and for how happy she felt when she received it. Also, she shared the desire to get to know me more through social media. It was a beautiful moment and proof of how we could connect with each other despite the social distance. To express this story I am sharing a screenshot of a conversation through Facebook (messenger) with a neighbor from Guayaquil, Ecuador. She is telling me that she received the letter I sent and how grateful she is for it.
The Summer Your Librarians Became Youtubers...I am a children's librarian in rural Louisiana. We are approximately two hours away from all major forms of entertainment, so the library acts as not only a community hub but a place for children to learn and participate in extracurricular activities year-round... until Covid. Though our community hardly noticed the virus itself, the effects of being locked down soon took hold, and we were left with a community of children, families, and elderly people more isolated than they usually were. The depression set in. And my director had the fabulous notion to take what we did to the airwaves... Or rather the internet. Our seriously underutilized Facebook Page became the hub of activity, and overnight we went from librarians to Youtubers leading digital craft and art classes, Zoom creative writing workshops, and nightly bedtime stories. What initially began as a means to cheer up the children soon developed into full-fledged outreach. Local politicians, law-enforcement, and other community leaders read stories for us on our page as a means to connect with the people in our community. We did special digital story hours with schools once they opened back up in the fall, and also read stories to patients in the nursing home. Continuing with this train of thought, we partnered with our local American Legion Hall, which is located on a main thoroughfare and has large windows clearly visible from the road, to set up our annual "Christmas Around the World" exhibit (which features Christmas traditions from many different countries as well as Kwanzaa and Hanukah traditions) since there was no way to feature the display in our small meeting room safely. Every program was modified, digitized, and brought to the people of our community in the best possible way they could be... which turned the 'year of the plague' into a year of learning, cooperation, and ingenuity for us.
Close Yukon schoolsA petition to close Yukon schools to help stop the growing number of COVID-19 cases.