Understanding the Importance of the Intersection between Community Engagement and our Everyday Lives

May 29, 2021
Anurika Onyenso, Third Year General Management Major, University of Alberta, Augustana Campus. 

Congress 2021 blog edition  

Jay Friesen, Partnership Coordinator and Lecturer in Community Service-Learning at the University of Alberta, explored how to explicitly, rather than implicitly, explain different parts of who we are in several contexts in an art impact workshop at Congress 2021. Utilizing several videos and activities in breakout rooms, he intended to prompt participants to think more carefully about how to weave community engagement into their academic persona. 

Friesen’s interest in the intersection between community engagement and university sparked with his growing desire to avoid his life at university during his Masters at Simon Fraser. 

After a brief introduction, he began the session casually by describing different aspects of himself in order to strike a conversation with the audience on understanding themselves in relation to their broader community.  

Speaking with his customary eloquence and humour, and accompanied by his own stunning photographs and imagery, Friesen displayed how his everyday life now as an animal-loving father to a little boy who loves playing lacrosse is a stark contrast to his professional life as an academic and PhD holder involved in both research and community engagement activities. This helped to further stress his point on the importance of weaving community engagement into one’s academic persona. 

Furthermore, other critical points from his research include the importance of personal connections, raising valuable discussion points and being vulnerable, in order to truly engage with your community. 

Leaving his audience with something to ponder on, he concluded his segment stating that “the only comfort I’ve managed is by being comfortable with uncomfortable situations.” 

Jay Friesen’s primary focus on campus is connecting communities in new and exciting ways, including organizing experiential learning, student engagement, and community initiatives. 

Also in attendance with him in the panel was Charity Slobod, member of FGSR Connect Lead and Professional Development.