KellyOpinion1Why community is more than a ring

Often we desire a sense of belonging and to find a place we can call “home”. The journey to finding oneself though isn’t always easy. Through communities, however, we can find different perspectives that unite for a common goal and who work together to make said goals possible. These interactions can attribute towards finding our niche, or where we belong. So, where do you find community?

The term community is rather ubiquitous and has multiple meanings. Depending on the individual, the interpretation of this term may vary. The forms of expression of a community may also differ too. I find community in the department I study under, the institution to which I attend, my family and the town in which I reside in. What does the term community mean to you? Maybe it is a weekly bible study, your res hall, campus organization or job. I’d also make the connection that our planet is one giant community, full of diverse ecosystems that house numerous populations that interact and co-exist with one another. All organisms strive to survive but rely heavily on one another. Typically, we are there for each other, thick and thin. We never want to intentionally harm our neighbors but rather look out for them in a respectful manner.

Cobbers experience the sense of campus community long before we are admitted. Admissions do a good job at conveying this sense of embrace, and on any campus tour the Concordia community is evident. I’ll admit, due to the strong sense of belonging I felt touring campus prior to enrollment, I furthered to consider coming to Concordia. I’m still here and it’s a great place to be; however, it may not be the place for everyone and, that’s okay.

Our diverse community is really something to embrace. We all have different interests, majors, beliefs, involvement, and we come together in times of need to celebrate, grieve, or address a issue like the campus calendar etc. Embrace the community you are a part of, and take care of it. Smaller communities also exist within campus as well as off. Becoming engaged in the numerous subset communities that exist supplies opportunities to meet fellow Cobbers as well as others in the region, nationally or potentially, globally.

Within our community, there are no strings attached. Become as involved as you like or not at all. Community, essentially, doesn’t mean you have to become engaged on campus; however, these interactions and activates may strengthen connections with members within said community. Based on my experiences, I would define communities as uniting people together that strive towards a common end goal or mission together. As a college community, we follow a mission, which is to become “thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” Together, regardless of the major or involvement we pursue, each of us collectively strives to “influence the affairs of the world”.

These senses of community do not end, however, after college. That’s important to remember. Each one of us will make transitions, whether rough or smooth, and find other opportunities to become engaged into new communities. Moving on to new communities doesn’t mean that we have to disassociate from current or past bonds within communities. One can belong and thrive in many communities. Once we graduate, new doors open, as we become a part of the alumni community. As time grows on, our connections expand and become stronger.

Sometimes we are so caught up in the distractions and busyness of everyday life that we forget to acknowledge and appreciate this sense of community that we are a part of. Recently, I was reminded how important the community of the Concordia Chapel Choir was in my life. Reflecting upon our tour and home concert, I’m truly fortunate to belong to a large ensemble of 111 students from a diverse pool of majors that come diligently work together to share their talents to a larger whole to create beautiful music. Chords lock, harmonies soar and members in the audience are uplifted through joy. Although rehearsals can be demanding as well as taxing, sharing our gifts to the community, who may direly need the therapeutic feeling our voices can provide, is rewarding. It is through this goal that connects us all. Each one of our voices is needed and attributes largely towards reaching our mission. It is great to be a part of the Chapel choir community. What effect does your community have on you? I see similarities within teams, clubs or service groups.

Community, thus, is not something you simply buy with a ring, a robe, sweater or mug. It comes with time and is different for all of us. Don’t assume everyone experiences the same sense of belong as you, and be open to other interpretations. Maybe you haven’t found that sense of community, and know that is okay. Don’t feel pressured nor settle in order to mimic the feeling of belonging. Do what you love and surround yourself with people who can appreciate what you bring to the table. Now and forever strong, we Cobbers certainly are. Personally, I am glad to be a part of this community and call Concordia my second home.

Kelly T. Knutson

Kelly T. Knutson 15' is an opinion columnist for the Concordia who focuses on environmental awareness / concerns in his entries. Originally from the upland prairies of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Kelly recently transplanted to Bemidji where he calls the conifer forests of Minnesota his home. Being ecologically literate and knowing his roots comes at high importance to Kelly. In his spare time he enjoys being immersed as well as fascinated by nature through hiking, birdwatching, mushroom foraging, camping etc. At Concordia he is involved with Sea - Student Environmental Alliance, Concordia Chapel Choir, Eco-Reps as the Coordinator, 2014 Sustainability Symposium planning committee, coordinating the 2014 HILT High Impact Leadership Trip for spring break, and a Lab TA for the Biology department.

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