This year has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. Covid19 is still wreaking havoc on our global affairs and a new “Delta variant” has surfaced; it feels like we’re spinning our wheels and attempting to avoid falling into an abyss of a greater unknown. This is no time for politics to interfere with human lives yet individual decisions are not always favorable to reducing Covid infections as well as deaths. It puzzles me how so many people remain adamant about lack of care for self or others. Paying attention to the science is crucial and we must each do our part to diminish the destruction of this insidious viral killer. This is not the platform I chose to use for personal expression, I’m merely being conscientious of our societal needs and ramifications on global health when the science is ignored.
On another note, as this last quarter of 2021 is upon us, we have a chance to right the ship across the Earth together in preparation for a new year ahead. Staying healthy, making smart decisions, working closely together to solve problems, and tackling challenges head on is vital for our wellbeing and sustainability of the planet, now and into the future. Racial disharmony, gender inequity, economic disparity, and more, continue to create conflict across CA and the nation. I’m always astonished at the inability of many human beings to behave in a civilized manner. The work of ICCE has been essential across disciplines and we pride ourselves in helping bridge divides and bring people together across our differences.
As this new academic year continues to unfold, our leaders in administration are doing the best they can…they are collaborating on crucial decisions and simultaneously strive to ensure our safety…and, they are going above and beyond to focus on maintaining the quality education our students at all levels deserve. During these past two-years, ICCE has struggled alongside many others with rebuilding staff and dealing with a budget shortage to fulfill our mission. Regardless, we maintain hope, we persist, and we endure in the face of adversity to support the greater good.
Experiential education and reflection are at the heart of the work we do. Ask yourself what is the meaning or significance of your work for those you seek to serve? Are you keeping up with the trends of a growing multicultural community and ever-changing world? In the halls of higher education, we must constantly ask ourselves what have we learned? In academia we can learn a lot in terms of history and theory, for example. However, the most valuable source of education may very well be our exposure and acceptance of diverse beliefs and cultures. To me, the real gift of experiential learning would be to embrace and further social justice. Today, our community partners have expanded their thinking and actions to embrace “JEDI” (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) in all its varying forms.
Our students across each of the six colleges value the spirit of giving back, our faculty share knowledge and provide opportunities to those they teach, and our staff across campus are committed to the never-ending task of supporting others in ways that also ensure student success. A term I learned over fifteen years ago is “kuleana” ~ That is Hawaiian for responsibility or the literal translation is “that which you are born to do.” For students, regardless of what age or generation, my hope is that you cultivate your professional aspirations and nurture your personal quest for a meaningful life. For my faculty colleagues, I hope you remain extraordinary and lead the way in your chosen field as your endeavors are essential for to inspire others. However, no matter how much progress we make, I believe we can always do better. Yet what does “better” really mean? Shirley Malcolm, a prestigious African American scholar, is a senior advisor with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She once said “better is more focused, more coherent and cohesive, and more connected. Better is creating bridges with the systems around us in both formal and informal education.” She believes education is, and should be, inspirational. And yet, she consistently asks the question “what next?” She went on to say “inspiration is an aspect of motivation but it is not education. Provocation is an aspect of motivation – but it is not education.” Education is the “what next” she once offered wisely.
We must continue to work diligently to create equity everywhere. To me, a couple of key ingredients are courage and perseverance. Ask yourself, am I doing everything in my power to make a positive difference in helping to create change? Do I embrace JEDI and do I know what my kuleana really is?
Be brave, be bold, be curious --
Nina S. Roberts, Ph.D.
Faculty Director of Community Engaged Scholarship & Learning
SF State, Institute for Civic & Community Engagement