Yaritza Bushell & Daisha Dukes are recipients of an R.W. Kern Center Student Grant, which funds research or projects relating to an aspect of the RWKC’s systems, mission, or to the Living Building Challenge.

The We Belong Project was developed out of the need for more community-centered space on Hampshire’s campus. This project was designed to serve the community by transforming and reimagining a central hub that students can rely on to make social and academic connections.

Read some of Yari & Daisha’s reflections below, and read more about The We Belong Project here.

Yari stands in front of the R.W. Kern Center gesturing toward a We Belong Project banner.

Throughout the process of the We Belong Project, I’ve developed the skills needed to collaborate and lead effectively, through engaging with the Hampshire community… I’ve learned I love to collaborate, and unite ideas for serving a greater purpose. I love to serve the communities I’m involved in, and I love supporting others in my community.

Throughout the process of the We Belong Project we got the chance to connect to new students, spend more time with other peers, and have fun with our friends in the space. Through building connections and community through activities that anyone can be a part of, we are collectively learning from one another, supporting each other, and are critically examining how to be in space with one another respectfully and inclusively despite restrictive social distancing guidelines.

The feeling of having many friends and familiar faces in one space just talking and enjoying each other’s company was really beautiful. We even had food for students to take home.

– Yari Bushell

Daisha stands in front of the R.W. Kern Center gesturing toward a We Belong Project banner.

Yari and I always dreamed of seeing a student center at Hampshire and after conversations we enacted our words into action by beginning the process of creating The We Belong Project, a student center initiative, at the Kern. One of the very first things Yari and I did was sit down together at the Kern and drew out on a piece of notebook paper a sketch of how we both imagined the space to look, feel, and be like in terms of transforming the building from only an admissions space to a space for students by students. Our main goal of creating this student initiative was centering intentional space for student academic and social support. We wanted the space to allow students the opportunity to come together in a central location where they could fulfill their needs to converse, collaborate, and create change.

This work connects to my own values because I strongly believe learning does not have to only be in the classrooms. It is so important for students to know that they are capable of pursuing any goals they have not because they are skilled in the field but for their strong efforts, passions, and interests to pursue their goals. There needs to be more spaces on campus for students to take leadership positions and bring attention to taking space on campus for their own needs both academically and socially. It is vital to their learning and growing together as strong leaders.

– Daisha Dukes

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