Lawrence on Lawrence: Popping the LU bubble

OpEd_BubbleIt’s likely that every student has heard of “The Lawrence Bubble” at least once—if not regularly—in their time at the university, but what does it actually mean to us as students on campus? We are incredibly privileged to be at such a great school within such a colorful and interesting community, yet very few of us statistically ever choose to “pop” our own Lawrence Bubbles.

Lawrence is a great school. Since I have been here, I suspect I have learned more than I ever did in the first 13 years of my education. I have explored many different academic fields and made the closest friends I have ever had.

All of us are blessed to be Lawrentians, attending such a great environment. Unfortunately, if we do not explore the outside community, we are missing out on a lot that Lawrence has to offer.

This was something I found myself thinking about this past week as I made a brief but chilly commute down College Avenue to Walgreens for cold medicine this past week.

On the walk, it finally occurred to me just how much being a member not only of the Lawrence community, but also of the Appleton community as a whole has impacted me.

Since coming to Lawrence last year, I have been able to take volunteer trips to warming shelters, help with fall chores at Edison Elementary, work for a major political campaign, and even make a documentary film about an important issue in our small community. In doing these activities, I have been able to meet new friends and find incredible community members with stories to tell that I never would have seen otherwise. In my work with local LGBT and mental health causes, I have been able to meet brave members of our local community willing to speak out in ways that I never could.

All these opportunities and more present themselves to Lawrentians interested in engaging with Appleton and the greater Fox Valley. Many students embrace them, but still more choose to ignore them altogether.

There are many ways interested Lawrentians can start to pierce their own personal “Lawrence Bubbles.”

Eating out, shopping on College Avenue and even taking walks around the town to explore various fantastic parks and landmarks are all opportunities I suspect many students may pass up in favor of the usual campus-focused routine.

These are great, but the best opportunities are those that lie in service to our wonderful Appleton community in one way or another. There are opportunities to volunteer for just about any kind of passion, whether it is related to homelessness, politics, mental health, education or other areas. I strongly encourage interested students to visit the Volunteer Center to learn more about available opportunities.

It’s no great secret that Lawrence has a bit of an image problem with many members of the community at large. Lots of people seem to think that Lawrence students are snobs buried in our textbooks and musical instruments, rarely coming out to engage in greater discussions with the rest of the community; but I know very well that this portrayal of us is unfair and untrue.

The image is ours to change, and the only way we can do so is by beginning to reach out not just as students of the Liberal Arts, but students of the world itself.