As a new fall semester is upon us, I’m thrilled to have a new graduate student assistant working with me during this upcoming year. Jissel Poblete is pursuing her graduate studies in equity and social justice in education and comes to us with service learning management experience, for instance, as a former Site Manager at Jumpstart and Program Manager with Super Stars Literacy. That, along with other work and field experience, Jissel has the confidence, poise, and knowledge to support our ongoing efforts as set forth in our Strategic Plan. We are delighted to have Jissel on our team!
Civic engagement and service learning are not singular concepts; neither is a strict recipe, nor an expected result of some independent feat. Rather, these are vital ingredients of a holistic, yet complex system of thinking and doing; leads to ongoing, sustainable change. The service SF State provides to both our campus community, as well as agencies we work with beyond our renowned institute of higher learning, is intentional and inspiring. And yet, for good reason, many of us feel fired up, angry, or worried about the direction of our country. Our current democracy is under siege as we continue to experience conflict and the re-emergence of every –ism known to humankind. We must, therefore, expand the geography of our imagination. Yet, in that process, a nation divided must be united. What transpires when the oppressors are united with the oppressed? Bringing the two together is a striking visual, given the inherent distance placed between them by the persistence of prejudice and hatred.
We do not need to be relegated to a wandering life full of inexpressible sufferings; we must immerse ourselves and our students in the healing powers of giving back. We must embrace the power of service learning to break down barriers of ignorance and pain. We must maintain a civic-minded approach to our decisions and actions. Civic engagement is not just for creating more policies, but also for bolstering our democratic practice—we must dismantle the current political dysfunction.
As the mid-term elections of the nation’s political landscape are upon us in November, we should spread the message of hope and vote for a new tomorrow so we can right the ship once again! The rage many people have been feeling only freezes and weakens us. Let us face the truth this nation continues to be threatened, including the very freedoms our democratic process depends on. While we may sometimes feel like “Alice passing through the looking glass”, we do not need to pass alone, like she did. Seek support from your friends, family, and colleagues, and call out to your allies. No matter what, surround yourself with positive influences to keep you sane!
Last, we mourn the passing of the legendary icon, singer/songwriter & activist, Aretha Franklin. In closing with the elegant tribute of Barak and Michelle Obama, “she helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human, and sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.” On that uplifting note, ICCE is excited for another academic year – our Civic Engagement Fellows are ready to spread their wings, community partners are maintaining momentum to work with our students, and faculty are converting more classes to become officially designated as Community Service Learning courses. We are looking forward to an increase in faculty and student collaboration on more community-engaged research and scholarship. Of course, there’s plenty more happening across SF State and ICCE is thrilled to be a leader among our sister CSU-wide campuses. Send us your stories, your achievements, your hopes and dreams; and, stop by and visit us in HSS 206.
In harmony & forward motion,
Nina S. Roberts, PhD, Faculty Director
Institute for Civic & Community Engagement