IMPACT 2017 Conference at Washington University in St. Louis

“The IMPACT Conference is historically the largest annual conference focused on the civic engagement of college students in community service, service-learning, community-based research, advocacy and other forms of social action. Building on the rich 32-year tradition of the COOL Conference and the Idealist Campus Conference, IMPACT is the one time during the year when students, administrators, faculty, AmeriCorps members and VISTAs, and nonprofit professionals gather together to learn and share effective practices, improve personal skills and organizational strategies, discover opportunities and resources, exchange stories, be inspired and challenged to sustain our efforts.”

to learn more about the IMPACT Conference, check out the website: IMPACT

As a member of the Jane & David Stone First-Year Civic Leadership Program at DePauw, I had the opportunity to venture to Washington University for a 3-day journey in civic leadership skills and activism on college campuses and communities.

St. Louis is home to the top U.S. urban park, Forest Park, a leading city in eco-paradigm and design, and a hub of diversity and critical thinking.

I attended a variety of sessions focusing on multitudes of facets involved with civic leadership and activism–defining those terms and phrases with a more holistic, inclusive meaning as well.

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I’d like to highlight on a specific sessions, however, that stood out to me the most.

Sustainable Cities:

My purpose in civic engagement is not to ‘help’ or ‘fix problems’ of those less privileged than myself. Helping equates to a sense of inequality and weakness. Fixing means that someone or something is broken and incapable of fixing their self. I must see life as a whole, not a part. Sustainable partnerships within civic engagement  must stem from a sharing of knowledge, resources, and expertise. There must be a reciprocity on both sides.

Often time college students are volunteering for selfish reasons. Whether to fill a requirement, for guilt-washing and attention, or purely because it’s the status quo. The term “volunteering” itself perpetuates the idea of inequality within two communities and widens the divide of “us versus them.” Reconceptualizing community engagement as an active citizen, not because it is an hour long requirement for a scholarship must happen on college campuses, especially at DePauw.

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