Throughout your four years here, you have heard, or will hear at some point, the phrase “Concordia bubble.”  The bubble, of course, refers to our unique Concordia atmosphere: the happenings and people that occupy 901 8th Street.  The things that—to us, at least—seem important, but many times bear little relevance outside our campus.

Because of this, we encourage first year students, from the first hours of orientation, to fight the inevitable huddling in the bubble, to get involved in the community.  This involvement is highlighted with the Hands for Change activity, when Fargo-Moorhead residents witness a sea of maroon and gold beanies inundating their needy organizations.  During these very early moments, first year students recognize not only the value of community engagement but the ease with which it takes to simply change something for the better.

On campus, as exams and assignments occupy the front burner, we forget about the engagement which highlighted our first days on campus.  This forgetfulness in many ways is mended by our on-campus organizations, especially the Campus Service Commission, which offers numerous opportunities to serve in the community.

Despite these structural remedies to our isolation and encouragement to BREW (something that begins when we enter this campus, not just when we leave it) many of us find few opportunities with which to engage.

The opportunities are standing right in front of us, however.  Worn out from meaningless repetition, the thought of participating in simple things in our community (things, by the way, that actually matter) is often pushed aside for the work that has a deadline. It happens. We’re students first, after all. But I want to stress the value of simply crossing 8th Street, or the Red River, or the Atlantic and making a difference.

We learn a lot of valuable and transferable skills in our classrooms, but we can’t simply wait until we walk across the stage, diploma in hand, before we feel compelled to engage with those outside of our community. We must cultivate and share these skills and gifts with our community throughout our time here.

There are, of course, numerous ways in which this is possible. An easy solution: get an internship. Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it — while you’re currently enrolled at Concordia. You will have the personal benefits of discovering your interests (or things that do not interest you) while applying what you have learned in the classroom with the wider community.

While interning is just one example, it is perhaps the most obvious way in which current students can become involved. It doesn’t have to be reserved just for the summer either.

In short, during this all too busy time, it is worth remembering that the gifts you bring to Concordia (and what you take out of your experiences here) are more meaningful than bubbles on a Scantron.

Our college shines best when it engages with a wider community, when we escape the Concordia bubble.

Matt Hansen

Matt Hansen, a fourth-year student, writes The People's Republic of Matt, a politics column in Opinions. He double majors in political science and sociology at Concordia. On Twitter: @MattHansen

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