Milstein students spent two weeks in February participating in critical reflection and Intergroup Dialogue Project workshops as part of their Collab Course. In these workshops, students reflect on their ongoing work with community partners and learn about mentorship opportunities within the program and on campus. The workshops are helping students not only prepare for their community-engaged project work in Ithaca, but also for this summer, when they will live, study and work with community partners at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island for six weeks.
Richard Kiely, senior fellow of the Office of Engagement Initiatives, led the critical reflection workshop on Feb. 5. Students discussed their experiences with community learning and analyzed important aspects of working with community partners, such as understanding their needs and tailoring a vision to address those needs.
Kiely’s office oversees Engaged Cornell, a program, ethos and hub that encourages students and faculty to incorporate community engagement in their higher education experiences. All Milstein students are encouraged to earn a Engaged Leadership Certificate with Engaged Cornell and to receive funding for their projects.
In the Intergroup Dialogue Project session, students talked about what they hope to gain from the program, what they can learn from one another and what they can teach each other. Students anonymously wrote these hopes on sheets of paper. Then those sheets were placed on a table and students circulated around it, writing their names under topics that they found interesting and would like to learn more about.
During the workshop, students also reflected on their Cornell experience, discussing questions such as: What is something you want to learn about at Cornell? Why do you want to learn about this? How will you go about learning this? Students asked each other supportive questions to better understand their peers and also push themselves to dig deeper into their thoughts and generate new ideas.
“This session was about reflecting on the purpose of why we volunteer, how we do it, what we can take from it, and also how we can recognize the limits of what we do as individuals within whatever structure we are in,” said Chukwudemebi (Joshua) Obi ’23.
Reflecting, communicating and connecting with others are key tenets of the Milstein program and play a large role as students work with community partners.