Over 2 hours ago if you had asked me why I was going to attend the town hall meeting at my campus, run by the student government, I would not have said "so I can blog about it later."
Being a freshman can feel like the bottom of the food chain. It isn't the label that bothers me; it is the unknown that goes along with it.
When you begin your new life on a college campus your first task is to learn the basics. This may be where your classes are, what is expected of you, the dining hall, or all of the above.
I have now tackled my first 2 months of college, and it is truly sinking in. I feel the desperate need to leap over the basics and "just know" whatever knowledge I am lacking about my new found community.
When school first began, I had absolutely no idea what the town hall meetings were all about. I received the emails, but I just opened it and moved it aside with the other notices in my inbox. I'm still finding my place. How can I benefit by attending this? Is this even something first-years are welcome at?
I am from a very small town in a rural CT setting. At home, "town hall meetings" would be a gathering of the adults that are active members of our small community to discuss the board of education or small-town politics, I don't know. I didn't know that this event was on my campus. [Which I probably should've figured since Boston itself is a city] I didn't know it was run by students. I didn't think to look deeper into another email on my account. I didn't know that this was for faculty, staff, AND students to come together as one community.
After I missed the first town hall meeting, I felt very left out when hearing side conversations about the impact it had left others with. After the second one, (I don't remember why I couldn't attend), I wanted to promise myself I would get to the next one.
I saw the message in my email address this week. Town Hall Meeting November 7th 5pm-7pm topics: "self care, coping, progression." I, of course, was drawn to the words self care. I was going.
When the time came, however, I found it difficult to get myself there.
I just stood outside the room, waiting for a friend to pass so I would have someone to sit with. My friends all had homework, appointments, or just weren't interested. I was on edge and very anxious. I walked by the room a couple times to imagine what seat I would sit in if I found the courage to walk in. I realized how ridiculous I was being. Meetings, events, or actually- anything new- make me anxious.
I was then standing in the back. Nobody could really see me, and I could get a feel for the environment and just listen. Just breathe. I didn't want people looking at me.
I spotted another one of my friends among the chairs, and I snuck by people and planted myself next to him.
I didn't use my voice, but it was my first meeting, and I was listening.
I believe you have the right to listen as long as you want and need to before you choose to include your voice in a new setting. I didn't speak, but I was learning.
I paid a lot of attention to the vibes of the room. There was some tension, a lot of care, and separation and holiness all at the same time.
Everyone was there for a purpose, even if each had a different purpose.
There was discussion about creating a safe environment on campus.
Physical safety is not our biggest concern. Our biggest concern is feeling safe on campus, emotionally.
Other topics discussed:
I just thought.. wow..I didn't imagine I would end up here..but I ended up at a really special place.
The faculty and staff care about their students. Truly. I believe it, even as I hear it. They want to help us outside of the classroom, and get to know us. They are willing to hear us out, and help us with any concerns.
To me, that's special.
I had never wanted to go to a small college, but now that I have that..I am grateful.
I have had teachers in my lifetime just like that, but there is an entire community of the faculty that are in the same agreement.
It feels good to be respected, taken seriously, treated as an adult, and a peer.
Since tonight was focused on self care and community, I am going to say my stance on the two topics.
Self care, to me, is a valuable balance. It is not ignoring the outside issues. It is making sure you have to time to take care of yourself; giving yourself time to stop and breathe with it all. Self care is acknowledging that you can find peace within a stressful situation. To me, is taking time to do something you love. Anything that triggers a positive reaction. Something that makes you happy, something that makes you laugh, something you're good at, or something that simply relaxes you. It is a time to check in with yourself. The balance, is being realistic. Acknowledging our inner self does not always eliminate the problems in the outside world. The positive balance is so we can recharge, and keep moving forward.
Community, to me, is being a part of something. At tonight's meeting, I wouldn't say I was super involved, but being in the room with other members of my school made me feel welcome. I was among my community. My mom has always told me that it is great to feel connected to your school, not just in the classroom. It is important to feel as though your campus is your home, you feel supported, and are able to be involved. Community building is about including your own voice, as well as welcoming other voices to be heard. It is respect, and wanting to better one another.
Our motto is "inspire a world of good." We are about social justice, and making a difference. We want to be social workers, child life specialists, educators. We all have a story and are here for a reason.
I am blogging tonight to gather these thoughts, as well as express gratitude for my new found community. Every school has its flaws. Not every student can say their school actually gives a shit about them.
At the meeting, flaws were admitted. It was admitted that there are things that have been a problem for too long, and need improvement on. I listened, but as a newbie I was also thinking..but what about all of this good I am hearing right now? My professors actually give a shit about me. About us. I think that's awesome.
I'm finding new ways to get myself out there and be involved. In my school, AND the world itself. There is a lot going on in this world, and a lot of hurt and baggage being carried around us. Being a voice, a listening ear, and a member of a supportive community big/small, makes a difference.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.