Community in the Workplace and Beyond
First of all, I would like to say that I am having a great time in Buffalo. It has been an energizing experience both on a personal and professional level.
By pairing each High Road Fellow with a community partner of the Partnership for the Public Good, Cornell has put us in the center of Buffalo’s strong and growing social sector. Each day we go off to work with our organizations on a variety of tasks from curriculum development, to narrative profiles, to policy briefs, and in the evenings we return to the dorms and share our experience. Often times we discover connections. It is not uncommon to see a fellow Fellow in your office or to hear of a collaboration between your partner organizations. Buffalo’s social sector is breaking down the barriers of what may have been previously siloed services and organizations, and it is forming a passionate community.
I feel this sense of community not just in my work, but in the city of Buffalo as a whole. Growing up in New Jersey, I am used to visiting New York City, a city full of newcomers, from tourists to young professionals. While this creates an exciting and diverse population, many people are there temporarily, and it can create a fragmented sense of identity. In Buffalo, on the other hand, I am constantly meeting people who were born and raised in the area. Everyone seems to be a local, and this further adds to the sense of community, pride, and drive to do good for the city that I have encountered while here.
In many ways, it is this pride and drive that I aim to embrace and communicate in my curriculum development work this summer. I am interning at the Cornell Cooperative Extension with the 4-H YouthCAN program for high school students. The teens in the program plan and execute community projects and events on issues that they care about. In this time of economic and social development, I am excited by this program’s work to make sure that young voices are included by giving teens the space and the platform to find and use their voices and their passion for the progress of the city. Each week of the summer program will focus on a different career sector that might interest the students, ranging from health and medicine to business and marketing, all with an additional focus on how each sector can have a lens for social and environmental justice and community engagement. Luckily, Buffalo is chock-full of organizations across industries that can serve as examples of this high-road work.
The High Road Fellowship has allowed me a unique and privileged vantage point on Buffalo’s reinvention. I feel fortunate to witness the community and collaboration that is essential to the city’s revitalization, and to learn about and contribute to the efforts of the people and organizations playing key roles.