Monday, November 7, 2016

Honors in Rochester: Individual Lessons for a Collective Impact

by Christian Esquivel

Attending the HIA conference in Rochester, NY was a non-stop, educational experience for our PTK officer team. From the moment we got there on Friday, we were greeted with a delicious dinner and had a guest speaker and fellowship events lined up. Throughout the weekend, our spent time at Monroe Community College participating in various activities, including experiential learning trips and even an exclusive club fair. We had amazing guest speakers, my favorite being Dr. Nayda Pares-Kane who spoke about the history of urban racial segregation and housing projects in Rochester.

The segments were arranged in a way that we would listen to a speaker on a relevant, global topic through the lens of sociology, history, or poetry and then we would split off into "seminar groups" to unload and discuss the topic we had just learned about. This was an amazing experience and I cannot highlight enough not only the diversity of ideas exchanged, but the boldness by which some of these uncomfortable topics were talked about and how receptive and open-minded everyone was. Many times we ended up learning just as much from each other as we did from the speakers, by interpreting it from a different perspective. Every speaker spoke on something that could easily be tied to on of the HIA topics, such as our own chapter's "Individualism vs Collectivism" topic.

Sleep was definitely scarce that weekend, but it was worth it because we met a lot of PTK members from all across the NY region. Personally, I came back having reinforced my belief that community college students share the same academic caliber and level of engagement than any student at a four-year college. For our chapter, although we had already completed our HIA event, we were able to share those ideas with chapters who were still in the planning stages of their own events. We exchanged contact information with other leaders and are hoping to arrange fellowship events so that we can foster better and more interconnected relationships amongst our PTK chapters, with colleges such as BMCC and Kingborough CC. Most importantly, because of the conference, we are better equipped to write our Hallmarks and complete our HIA project for the 2016 school year.

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