This year’s Bonner Program has brought with it a great deal of excitement and variety. We have tripled in size, we’ve added two new coordinators, and because this is our second year, we are setting out to accomplish much more than we did last year. Part of my role as a member of the senior cohort is to mentor and work closely with a select few of the first year Bonners. This group is described as a Bonner Family and we go by the name of “F.O.C.K.E.R.S.” (Family Of the Community Keeping Everything Really Sweet). The members of this family include Alysandra Zuber, Manning Franks, and Jose San Miguel; I feel extremely privileged to be grouped with these outstanding characters.
We (the FOCKERS) have the task of leading this year’s first Bonner Chat this evening. Over the past several weeks we have been meeting to organize and design this event. During these meetings I have come to learn a great deal about my family members, and not necessarily through what they have told me, but rather through their actions. When we first met I explained to them what the event would entail, and then I expressed what my expectations were in pulling this off. At that moment I began to see ideas taking form in their minds as their faces showed signs of deep thought. They displayed extreme passion as they shared these ideas amongst the group and answered the questions that were used to frame our presentation. I believe that we did a superb job in finding creative ways to shape our Chat so that it is engaging and memorable. We left that initial meeting with great feelings of excitement and anticipation for what the Bonner Chat would become.
The addition of our two new program coordinators has impacted us delightfully. Although Anna did a great job on her own last year in that position, having the extra set of hands, minds, and experiences there with her allows for our program to do so much more. Aside from them being super on point when it comes to handling business, I particularly enjoy having the two new coordinators with us because they are both very down to earth and relatable. I believe that the level of productivity a group or organization can achieve is more dependent on the amount of communication and trust that exists among the members rather than just their expertise. Kemi and Shannon definitely score high in both areas.
When I first found out about the Bonner Leader program, I was very much intrigued by its description. A program enacted by the Bonner Foundation to enable students to promote social justice in their community while financially compensating them for their time and efforts. This idea weighed heavy on my concentration because for the past two years I was immensely involved in community work but I honestly was having a hard time making ends meet financially. Therefore, following my initial conversation with Dr. Blosser about the program, I immediately knew that this was something I needed to be a part of. While I knew that I would be involved in community service, I did not know that I would gain such a tremendous insight about civic issues, and develop some worthwhile friendships as well. My time with the Bonner program has allowed me to fulfill my passion for community service in helping youth, learn so much in becoming more socially aware of community issues, and gain true friendship in the other Bonner student leaders I work with.
The site I am working at is a homework help program for children whose parents are busy taking ESL classes, and it has been interestingly fun for me to work here. We have seen many of the children grow academically in different subjects, as well as grow in their personal character. Many times I have come to work and was instantly filled with joy by the kids’ happy and imaginative behaviors.
Each month this semester we have hosted a “Bonner Chat” which has been open to anyone in the community. These events are meant to raise social awareness by creating discussions and providing information about different civic issues. So far we have learned about homelessness and childhood literacy. Although I knew somewhat about each one of these issues, the chats brought me much closer to the harsh reality that these problems create. I am now much more sympathetic about the issues and those affected by them, and I have a strong desire to advocate more on their behalf. In February, a few of us took a trip to the Intersect Leadership and Diversity Conference held at Elon University. I was very impressed with the variety of expertise that we were offered at each session; we were able to engage in some meaningful discussions amongst each other about the various topics.
We recently completed our first year Bonner trip and it was absolutely spectacular. Although our service project was cancelled due to inclement weather, the trip was still beneficial to us as a group. In the time that we were down there, I learned a lot about my fellow Bonners which helps me to understand their way of thinking and in turn understand more about myself. Since we have advanced our relationships among each other, I believe that the work we do together will be more effective and efficient.