What does it mean to learn from your community? Theoretically, this sounds great. Practically…it can be tough to know how to do this! Community can be spread out, diverse, fractured, connected; often it looks a little different for each person.
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity at my university to plan day-trips into Los Angeles on behalf of many students who have never experienced the city for themselves (or who are unfamiliar with it). The goal of these trips is not for them to make LA appear as a tourist destination for students to idealize. Rather, the basis for these trips has been to establish personal points of contact and reference throughout the city. My vision has been for students to meet wonderful people throughout LA who work in important organizations and museums so that these students can see the benefits of visiting the city and starting to view it as their community.
While Los Angeles is a large and spread-out city, it has so much to offer. It is full of world-changers who want to improve the lives of those around them, and I wanted to bring recognition to these dedicated workers by introducing some students to their work.
One such individual who I introduced to a group of students is a woman from an organization called Catholic Charities which works to resettle refugees into America. She spoke very directly with us about what it means to be a refugee and about what it means to redefine success. Refugees often have immense roadblocks preventing them from achieving “normal” expectations like having jobs and paying for rent. Refugees typically enter the country with little command of English, practically no money, job skills that cannot always translate to what is available in America, and upwards of eight children to care for. Her job is to help families find places to live, schools for their children, and job opportunities wherever possible.
It was really impactful for our whole group to learn from her experience working for this non-profit. We got to step outside of the classroom setting which so often houses our learning in college and into the world of someone who fights for the value of people’s lives each day.
Connecting with her role in the community made us more aware of the needs around us and opened students’ eyes to ways they can make a difference in a hurting world. Meeting her in person was as simple as asking one of my professors for an introduction.
This exercise of learning from my surrounding community forced me to step outside of what was familiar and easy and into someone else’s challenges to honor her hard work. This taught me a great deal about patience and lending a listening ear. It also taught me about valuing the important work of another person even though it is very different from my own.
While learning in a classroom context can be helpful for providing a foundation, the real learning process happens in the field, a place where people can observe and interact with what is around them and explore ideas about how they can contribute to the common good. The whole purpose of this project I did was to bring students into a new learning context to provide them with different perspectives.
Similarly, FLDWRK was created to help people learn from one another and their communities, and have access to the resources they need to start, launch, and grow their ideas to impact the world. This happens locally at the coworking locationsin Costa Mesa and Fullerton. But in the true spirit of fieldwork (being among people and learning through obesrvation and interaction), FLDWRK just officially launched a new online platform for the Pilot Program where you can get your idea off the ground by going through the program online. Now, no matter where you are, if you’ve observed a need in the world and have an idea for how to solve it, you can join the FLDWRK community.
Pilot is a program that helps you explore your idea, receive feedback and encouragement, continue expanding your vision, and be pushed outside your comfort zone to do your part in bringing change to the world. You can find out more about Pilot and the other startup programs offered by FLDWRK on the Startups Page. Like this project I was a part of, the FLDWRK spaces and startup programs are vibrant and exciting places to learn while making strides towards achieving your vision.