To promote the well-being of the Lawrence Community, the first lecture in the Cultural Competency lecture series was “A Community of Self Care” given by Erin Buenzli, the Director of Wellness and Recreation, on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m.
This lecture was aimed at and attended mostly by faculty and staff so they could be more prepared to help students during the upcoming school year. “We need to work together to take care of each other,” said Buenzli, “but first we have to take care of ourselves.”
The goals of the lecture were to understand what self-care is and also learn how to help create a community of self-care on campus. Self-care was defined as a combination of empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience and compassion. Buenzli stated that this means realizing that everyone else is thinking thoughts just as complex as your own and also knowing what marginalized groups are going through without being told.
Self-care therefore also includes caring for the community. Buenzli and audience members in the lecture helped provide resources about emotional intelligence for students. She also suggested being engaged in students’ lives, such as asking them how a game or performance went. Realizing that consciously caring for the community is important!
Specific things that were mentioned for helping the Lawrence Community were to practice thinking the best of the people you are talking to and to avoid making quick assumptions about people and listening to prevent uncalled for assumptions from being made. Making sure to look directly at people while talking to them is important, since it takes six seconds to emotionally register someone.
During the lecture, several demonstrations were led to show how these things can help care for the community. The first example had audience members pair up and try to have a conversation with each other about their weekends three different ways.
The first time both members of each pair told each other about their weekends at the same time, talking over each other. The next time, no one was talking over the other, but while one audience member talked, the other ignored the person talking by either looking at their phone or thinking about something else. The last time, one member listened intently while the other spoke.
The entire room noticed a difference in how connected they felt during each conversation, saying that the last conversation was much nicer and participants smiled more during the last conversation, showing how looking at someone while they are talking can change the mood of everyone involved.
Another activity the audience participated in was a “loving kindness meditation.” A “loving kindness meditation” involves typical aspects of meditation such as deep breathing and clearing one’s mind, but also involves thinking about being surrounded by loved ones and sending kind thoughts to them. This ,combined with allowing time for reflection and listening, helps cultivate resilience and balance.
More Cultural Competency lectures will be held throughout the year.