I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: students at Holy Cross tend to lack community ties in Worcester. So many of us remain confined within the college’s gates, only foraying out into the great beyond for groceries or nights at the bar. For many students, this may not necessarily even be their choice, considering only upperclassmen are allowed to keep cars on campus and cabs can be quite expensive.
What’s more, it is a noticeable tendency of students here to not only avoid the Worcester community but to look down on it from our ivory tower on “the Hill.” My first year here, I operated in much the same way. But as I reflected on my experience with Community-Based Learning (CBL) at the end of my sophomore year, I realized that CBL had done so much more for me than simply concretize various learning objectives. It taught me the value of participating in a community.
If you’ll allow me to generalize for a moment, it is my experience that Holy Cross students on the whole treat Worcester as a city they visit between summer and winter holidays. For me, CBL broke me of this mindset and showed me what a truly beautiful community Worcester is. I was curious to see how my interviewees felt CBL shaped their experiences of Worcester as a community, and their answers were fairly consistent with mine:
Each student reflects on how CBL has impacted the way they encounter Worcester as a community. Though every answer tackles the question uniquely, as a whole they point toward the same conclusion: I am not the only one whose experience of community in Worcester has been affected for the better by CBL. Even Cindy N., a Worcester native, discusses how adopting a different position to the community in her service has helped her better understand and appreciate Worcester.
My experience of community through CBL inspired me to delve into the culture of Worcester this semester via my blog. Each week, I made it my goal to try something new in Worcester by way of introducing myself to the city. So far, I have become much more familiar with navigating my way through Worcester, a city previously very confusing to me.