Living In Communities

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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Women Living Well - 2004

Student Papers

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Living In Communities

Yinnette Sano

The college experience is all about living in and being a part of different communities. From the first day here at Bryn Mawr you are almost placed into small communities depending on what dorm you end up living in, and even smaller ones depending on your customs group, but as time passes usually one ends up branching out into other communities present at the college. In all of these communities it is almost certain that tensions either will or do exist. Some tensions if used and handled in the correct manner can be put to good use, other tensions may have not so good of outcomes. To say that communities can exist particularly on a college campus without any tensions is to be na´ve or blind of the realities that daily surround us.

Tensions on college campuses are almost inevitable simply because of what a college campus is and how it is made up. You have a large number of young people coming from a diversity of places, and having had a certain type of experience their whole lives with thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that have been shaped by the communities they were once a part of, all put together to cohabitate. The result of this are communities within communities which in some cases serve as support systems, and in other instances serve as places where mutual learning is taking place. Tensions in many cases exist because of both the spoken, and the unspoken realities that are parts of students. What I mean by spoken realities are those conversations which are either started or ended by a comment that was taken the wrong way, or that was not phrased correctly, or that was deemed ignorant by some and just plain normal by others. The comments and how one reacts to them greatly reflect where the person is coming from. If anything the experience of tension can allow the beginnings of a dialog which would foster understanding or it could be the ending of that kind of dialog for good. The outcome of tensions is greatly swayed by the way in which they are handled. Of course there are tensions that are more complicated and that as a result involve a different kind of approach or different strategies in order to solve or come to an agreement. I think that tensions need to exist in college communities such as Bryn Mawr.

I think that wanting this environment to be Utopian is simply setting ourselves up for a shocking world after Bryn Mawr which most likely is made up of not too comprehensive people who do not want to talk and do not really care about building communities and fostering them, or even just learning from others. I take the tensions felt on this college campus, look at the different ways in which they are solved, or handled, so that I could hopefully use not only my experiences and those shared by my peers in the future when I may be confronted with them once again. I think that if all of the communities here at Bryn Mawr looked at tensions as a way to further build communities that really understand each other, then we would be at a place where learning of all kinds is appreciated.

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