Student Affairs and Office of Instruction this past December cohosted an afternoon training on Belonging. Together over 30 staff and faculty engaged in open dialogue on what belonging means to UGA students through a series of interactive activities. The workshop was designed to break down barriers, challenge biases, and foster a culture of acceptance and appreciation of differences. Participants were given space to creatively innovate and reflect on existing UGA support their corresponding areas provide that fulfills student belonging needs.
“The Belonging Workshop was a highlight of my December,” says Victoria Redmon, Assistant Director of Student Transitions, “It was so fun to chat and collaborate with colleagues from across campus.”
Redmon enjoyed how the interactive exercises encouraged creativity and communication in innovative ways. For her, mind-mapping and drawing are ways she processes information and plans events, so it was helpful to be in a space where that was encouraged.
“This workshop reminded me that even though we have different approaches to our work, at the end of the day, we are all student centered,” continued Redmon, “Shoutout to Megan Mittelstadt and Katie Burr for incorporating active learning into that workshop – it was an energizing change of pace.” Redmon wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
“This workshop left me feeling invigorated,” says Ching-Yu Huang, Ph. D., Associate Director for Active Learning Initiatives. Huang felt the activities facilitated engaging discussions on fostering belonging. Huang enjoyed that everyone addressed challenges and strategized ways to strengthen students’ sense of belonging and promote a supportive community. The afternoon left Huang further inspired about her commitment to nurture a community that centers on a deep and authentic sense of belonging.
This partnership between Student Affairs and Office of Instruction exemplifies the commitment of the University of Georgia to foster the professional growth and development of all its staff members. “We look forward to continuing professional development opportunities where we can examine and reflect on topics of belonging” says, Demetrius Smith, Ed.D., Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, “We hope workshops like this will improve the experience of all students.”