The key to successful community engagement is relationship-building, agreed panelists at the Community Engagement Staff Institute Jan. 25 at the Biotechnology Building.
But, they noted, relationship-building is long term in nature, requiring trust built up over time. How can students successfully engage with local organizations when they are here for only four years or work briefly in the community to complete a class project? How can those who work with students on community-based initiatives help students build trust with that organization, learn from their interactions and, as a result of their engagement, learn how to create change and become global citizens?
Those were some of the topics addressed at the workshop, which was attended by about 85 staff and faculty members from schools, colleges and administrative offices across campus. The panelists were current and former local community organizers: Cornell civic leader fellows Rafael Aponte and Fabina Colon; Mané Mehrabyan ’17, postgraduate program coordinator for student leadership in the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI); and Rochelle Jackson-Smarr, OEI’s associate director for student leadership and program manager for student success programs in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives.