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June 17, 2019 10:55 AM

Student Engagement event fosters dialogue

On June 11, Conestoga’s Student Engagement team hosted an Enlightenment Dinner which brought students and faculty together for a facilitated discussion over a shared meal. The event was the second in a series of three meant to spark conversation about community issues, build networks and collaborate.

Conestoga College_Enlightenment Dinner_2019.jpg
Conestoga students and faculty participated in the Enlightenment Dinner on June 11 at the college’s student-run restaurant Bloom. The event aimed to build a sense of community through dialogue and a shared meal.

Hosted at Bloom, Conestoga’s student-run restaurant at the college’s John W. Tibbits campus in Waterloo, the group explored the topic of us and them.

“Dividing people into groups is a part of our social experience, be it through race, gender, nationality, post-secondary schools, campuses -- we build our identities through the groups we belong to,” said Student Engagement programmer Jermal Alleyne. “These identities can be numerous and elastic, but what makes us decide who is like us and who is the other?”

Throughout the evening, the group touched on a number of themes as they discussed why there is a tendency to separate the world into us and them, and how bridges across divide can be repaired or built through globalization, education and even tragedy.

Participating in the discussion were IT Network Security student Dhruva Mehta, and Margaret Steel, a faculty member in the college’s School of Language & Communications Studies. “I thought this event would be a great way to meet new people,” said Mehta. “I like discussion and learning different perspectives, and it provided an opportunity to learn about the different cultures at the college as well.”

For Steel, participating offered an opportunity to connect with students outside of the classroom. “It put us all on an equal level,” said Steel, “and I enjoyed learning about the experiences and often fresh and innovative perspectives of the group.”

“We wanted to host this event series as a way of building a sense of community on campus,” said Alleyne. “Dialogue is a vital part of that -- as is food. Sitting down and having a meal together is central to most cultures as a way of bonding and fostering conversation.” Alleyne hoped that by providing an opportunity for faculty and students to converse about subjects other than what they’re teaching or studying, it would remove the classroom power dynamic and showcase how issues are thought through and solutions are reached.

Conestoga’s Student Engagement team meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives including the Co-Curricular Record, Orientation, the Respect Campaign, the Connect Leadership Workshop Series, and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.

The next Enlightenment Dinner will be held on June 25. Visit the co-curricular portal for more information. 

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