Building a Community Aparna Watal Resident Assistant President, ΡΑΣ Drexel University

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<ul><li>Slide 1</li></ul> <p>Building a Community Aparna Watal Resident Assistant President, Drexel University Slide 2 Coming from personal experience As a resident assistant, I have observed that building a community is perhaps one of the most elaborate and involving challenges that resident assistants might face. There are different aspects to building a community and personally I think there is no one right away to build a community. During my efforts I was particularly intrigued by building individual relationships with residents, building relationships linking residents and building relationship with the floor as a whole. Slide 3 Submitted by Aparna Watal Resident Assistant, Drexel University Slide 4 What is on its way? Successfully Beginning a community - Generalized Being Available, Showing a genuine interest, being objective and honest. Building the community one at a time Domino effect Building the floor community Building relationships within residents, Building your relationship with the floor. Slide 5 Simple Steps to Start a Community I have observed some nuts and bolts that are priceless to building a community: Being Available / Accessible Showing a Genuine Interest Being Objective and Honest Talk, Talk and Talk some more Slide 6 Being Available &amp; Accessible To build a strong relationship with your floor you have to spend time on your floor. Walking around your floor twice daily, leaving your door open as much as possible, posting your class schedule on your door, letting your residents know your email id, AIM screen name or other contact information are good ways of making your presence felt and seen. Beginning every term right. At the start of each term you have a whole lot to catch up with and more opportunities to initiate a conversation. This is your golden chance to set a trend of chatting and exchanging dialogue between you and your residents. Make sure you spend ample time on your floor in the beginning of each term and specially the first one. Idea !! Slide 7 Showing a Genuine Interest Find out what their interest and hobbies are. Know what your residents are involved with beyond school activities. Try and see if more than one of your resident is involved in the same thing, if YES! then bring them together. If one of your residents plays in the band, or is on the team then work on rallying an audience from the floor. These could also be used as events. Step into their lives, dont step on them. During moving-in you may get a chance to meet a residents family members or special some ones. Being respectful and warmly welcoming all of them is a huge contribution to initiating your bond with that resident. Knowing who your resident values can be a great insight into their lives. It can be constructively used to talk with them, promote their talents and to help resolve conflicts. However please remember that it is very important to respect their personal boundaries. Judge Smart! Idea !! Slide 8 Being Objective and Honest Give yourself time to do your personal tasks. You are just as much a student as any other resident on your floor. Building community will take time out of your schedule so stay ahead of the game by being organized and allocating time everyday for yourself to study, run errands and get YOUR stuff done. Something that helped me was incorporating my residents in my daily tasks like eating dinner with them and talking over a meal, going to the gym with them, attending CEO workshops with them and so on. The more time you spend, the more results you will see. Then again, the quality of the time spent has to be quantifiable as well. Be Honest. While building bonds with your residents be sure to always portray the right/accurate picture. Your getting along very well with them, can not be a reason to lead them to believe that they are exempt from university policies. Idea !! Slide 9 Talk, Talk and Talk some more As a kid I would run around bare feet, and my mom would repeatedly tell me not to. Perhaps then she thought that her asking me again and again had little effect on me because I would forget it every now and then. But today every time I am walking around bare feet, I can almost hear her voice in my ears. Moral of the story is that: Sometimes repetition helps in registering. It is only helpful to find new and creative means to reach out to your residents and repeat to them some basic principlespersonal hygiene, dietary balance, community living codes, respecting diversity, university policies, academic planning, goal attainment &amp; scaling and so on. The easiest way, that appeals to me, is Talking to them. You dont have to give a lecture every 20 minutes, but you can mould the conversations, from time to time, to a desired shape depending on the area the particular resident needs help in. Slide 10 Take a Break! In the next few slides we will see: Building community, one at a time Building the floor community Slide 11 One at a time Domino Effect Find the Natural Leader Your residents may look up to a few charismatic individuals on the floor. You can rely on these natural leaders to initiate an effect you want to see on the entire floor. Once these leaders do something, even as simple as attending a program, you will be surprised to see how fast the rest will follow suit. Rewarding one, shows all Actions speak louder than words, we all know it. If some of your residents attended a program just because you insisted them to then a I am so glad you came note on their door can assure you a second visit from them. If a resident did well in their class, a Congratulations note will encourage them and set an example for others. Slide 12 One at a time Domino Effect Practice a safe and healthy environment Believe it or not your residents learn from you. I had a bad habit of not locking my door and very soon some of my residents started copying me. Hence I made an extra effort to lock my door and to show them that if it is something I have to do, then they need to do it as well. Same goes for university policies and conduct. The conduct that your residents assume on the floor, may be derived from your role on the floor. If the floor is very well decorated then the chances that the bulletin board will be ripped down are lowered because the residents know you CARED! Slide 13 Building the floor community Bringing them together Now that you may have set up individual bonds with your residents, to get the community rolling you need to bring them together. Slide 14 Are there opportunities to bring more than 2 residents together? Building the floor community Bringing them together Suitable Physical Environment Opportunity Goal Does the environment promote community? What did you achieve, or did you fall short? Slide 15 Physical Environment It is very critical to provide a conducive learning environment to students who have just moved away from home and may be struggling with several things at one time. You can achieve this through various means: Give a theme to your floor and decorate it accordingly. For example : It could be a leadership theme, if you are on an all engineers floor you can use that as a theme, you can keep themes according to the coming festivals or holidays as well. March could be an Irish theme and so every decoration on your floor could be green for that particular month. Door Tags. They are very purposeful. Reading the door tags is perhaps the first tiny step the residents take unconsciously towards knowing their floor mates. Try and make the door tags catchy. Making them unique also helps because people want to check out each others door tags. For example something as simple as MAD LIB can be a great way of forming the first cliques. Dont let the bathrooms be neglected. Put up shower curtains from the dollar store, soap holders, hand wash soaps, some odor dispeller. Be creative and let your residents decorate the bathroom with you. There are dozens of things you can do. Ask for funding.. Slide 16 Opportunity Doing a certain program may not necessarily attract everyone. Hence its important for you to target certain audiences and work with their interests. Once you have groups on the floor that residents associate with, it is a lot easier to bring the groups together. But to even form those groups, you need to start with one resident at a time. Slide 17 Opportunity Start one at a time Target your audience Work on growing the existing cliques Expand your audience Bring the Different Audiences together Events Programs Slide 18 Goal or Intention - Purposefulness There has to be a purpose in your choice of events. You may find yourself stuck at any one of those stages of community building if your events are always spontaneous and never thought through. Slide 19 You are the First Resident of your floor Reminders: Be Genuine Be Available Be Accepting Be a Role Model Be a Mentor Be Equitable Be Consistent </p>