Sophomore Exchange 2015 recap by Rebecca Nguyen

Are you an egg, a carrot, or coffee? At this past weekend’s Active Citizen Conference, Bonners and students were asked to reflect on themselves and their service work in creative ways. Held at William Mary, sophomore Bonners at UR and civically engaged students from surrounding areas came together to discuss how to be effective, active citizens. Students had the opportunity to interact with students from many schools, and speakers shared their advice and experiences.

Representatives from UR Bonner presented on how to handle pressure and uncertainty. The panel asked students to think about how they react under stressful situations in the terms of a metaphor. The panel told a story where boiling water was a stressor. In this situation, you could be a carrot- turning mushy and soft under the stress of boiling water. You could also react in the same way as an egg and become hardened and tough from stressful conditions. Lastly, you can be like coffee, which changes its stressful environment. Coffee makes something positive out of a stressful situation. It betters the situation, making a delicious product and aroma. The exercise guided students to think about how they would act in a stressful situation. The presenters then helped students make action plans on how to tackle future stressful situations in a positive manner.

The lectures varied in topic but the same themes were weaved throughout the conference. The importance of empathy, open-mindedness, persistence, curiosity, and mindfulness were constantly discussed. With Bonner being such a big part of our lives, it is important for students to take the time to think about their roles in service. Sophomore exchange was a chance for participants to learn, connect and reflect. The conference gave students tools to become more aware and to make deeper connections. However, one presenter brought up how it’s okay to leave the conference with more questions and answers. Reflection is an ongoing process as we continue with our work as Bonners.