Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Thursday of Ubuntu @FairfieldU

Yesterday, as I was finishing interviews for graduate applicants, I remembered my colleague, Dr. Jocelyn Borycka, invited me to an end-of-the-year service-learning class celebration where she and her students would high-five one another for all the learning that has taken place alongside young people who relocated to the United States from Africa through International Institute of Connecticut. Many of these young people partake in Ubuntu Academy, as well, and have been working with my pre-service teachers for a few years (and graduates of GSEAP). A majority of the kids are now enrolled in Mr. William King's ESL high school class at Bassick High School, too, where I've been lucky enough to do professional development with teachers and assist with curriculum development.

I was thrilled to come to the lobby of Barone Campus Center yesterday afternoon to see the kids in what I'd call an Ubuntu circle playing a game of togetherness with a skein of yarn. They were reflecting on the semester and sharing favorite experiences. It was also great to see faces I haven't seen in a few months, including Peter Simon who is now a senior a the school - it's been four years since I first began working with him! He's top lion in his school now.

And today, my undergraduate philosophy of education class will be contributing to a collaborative art piece we're gifting to Mr. King's ESL class (my students don't know it yet, because they were given a puzzle piece to decorate - the truth of their artwork will look somewhat like the design to the left - Ubuntu - I am, because we are. Each of them were given a small piece of a puzzle to artistically design as their philosophy of education - what does it mean to have knowledge in the 21st century? Together, our pieces will fill a larger puzzle which articulates my philosophy - it takes all of us together.

When I got home last night, there were several messages from the Ubuntu kids thanking Fairfield University for all the support that has been shown by our campus. I'm excited, too, that several of us have joined forces with IICONN to discuss additional ways we can collaborate to advocate for relocated youth and their families. When I set out to establish my career, post doctorate, it was the Jesuit mission of community service that attracted me most. I've always wondered what good knowledge was if you couldn't put it into action. I love seeing action like I did yesterday.

At the end of the school year events like this make all the hard work worth it. I'm proud of the vision put forth by Dr. Boryczka and the only evidence I need are the smiles on the faces of everyone in the room.

Unbelievable and beautiful.

It lights a fire with in me that we all can be doing so much more to make the world a better, more magical place.

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