Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Interview by:Ifunanya Ezimora
Q: What words or images would you use to describe the Oberlin community, and why?
A: Fractured? I think its very divided and there are students who think Oberlin is only the college, despite the town, and then there are students active in the community. There are good relationships between the college and the town and there are really bad ones. There are different groups of people with different understandings. I just feel like its very divided and its not like there isnt community within those divisions, but that there are separate groups of people.
"...there are students who think Oberlins only the college despite the town, and then there are students active in the community. "
Q: Are you active in the community?
A: I would say yes. As a Bonner Scholar Im required to do this. So in doing service, I have been able to meet community members and do work in the community - although, Im still a college student and theres still definitely that divide no matter how many ways I relate. Oberlin has a population of low income folks and I identify as low income. I also identify as Black. But that doesnt mean I am now a community member or that I understand, because Im still not from here. But I do consider myself to be involved in the community through my service, but also because Ive done work in the community Ive also just gotten to know people and to talk and hang out with folks outside of the Im here to provide service sort of framework.
Q: What do you love about this community?
A: I think there is a lot of knowledge here, which is definitely awesome. I think I came to Oberlin not knowing a lot and Im going to leave knowing a whole lot more. I think we need to be better about sharing that knowledge because I dont think were necessarily great at it. Theres knowledge about a lot of things, like social issues, social justice, but also care taking and mental health. Being around folks who know these things has helped me to learn them, but also be able to do them better and thats really awesome. And to be around people who know how to caretake well is a fun cool thing.
"I came to Oberlin not knowing a lot and Im going to leave knowing a whole lot more."
Q: So you mentioned you were a Bonner Scholar. How do you think your Bonner work benefits anybody?
A: I think the work I do with Bonner benefits me because I am one, able to pay for Oberlin through it, but also I was forced from the very start to not be trapped in this college bubble, which is great for my own learning and development. Ive also gotten to meet people and make connections. Doing service is something that has always been very grounding for me and is something that I can rely on and feel good about. It just makes me feel better. In terms of for the community in general, I think its very complicated. Doing service doesnt fix the root problems and doing service doesnt eradicate the problem. But its really important that there is a reallocation of resources, which is what I consider service to be. Like the fact that the town has the awesome education support from the college - like how they have free tutoring available to most people like through Ninde - that is possible because Oberlin College students are giving their educational and mind resources to other folks and thats very useful. I am all for that sort of giving. But I have a complicated relationship with the service model in general because I think its good and really important given where were at right now, but in some ways having a service model allows systemic problems to continue, and there are things about having people be temporarily involved in a community or a childs life which is not good. To me big change has to happen.
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