Our discussion, at the end of class today, about the issue of earning the trust of those that we interact with in the community really got me thinking. The woman from camp discover commented that unless you are associated with someone from the community; with someone that others in the community trust , it is very difficult to get the community to work with you. From my experience in community engagement in the area, I find this to be very true. I worked on the Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds program with Dr. Bateman. I found that it was difficult to get the children’s attention without the support of the school teachers. We went to several local elementary schools for the Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds program and each were very different experiences. However, in some schools I got the sense that the children viewed us as “outsiders” and that what we were trying to teach them was our way of trying to help their community.
I think it is important to keep this in mind for this community engagement project. My hope is that earning the trust of the community is not going to be as difficult for our project, as it may be for other community engagement projects. I think beginning by trying to build a relationship with members of the community will allow us to earn some of their trust. I also think that we can break away from the notion that we are interacting with them in an effort to “change” their community.
I think we should always consider how the people we are interacting with define community. In a sense we, as students, and our families share a community. We are both currently located in rural Appalachia and share a love of the land. In an entirely different sense we, as students, and our families are from different communities. Our families are from local counties, which include schools, churches, and other smaller communities within them. We think of ourselves as part of the Sewanee University community, which includes an entirely different set of smaller communities (i.e sports teams, greek associations…etc). It may be difficult to bridge the gap between our two communities, but I think that it is definitely something that can be done. I believe that going into a new community with an open mind and with a willingness to learn how things work within that particular community is something that can be very helpful.