What is Community Builders?
Community Builders is a project which brings together people of all ages (Waverly-Shell Rock 6th graders, Wartburg College students, and members of the local community) who discuss and share what it takes to build a sense of local and global community and the value of doing so. The participating organizations which support Community Builders include: Wartburg College, Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District, St. Paul’s School, and Self-Help International.
How is Community Builders structured?
During the Fall and Winter term participants are placed in “neighborhoods;” each of which has seven to 12 people of various ages. During May Term 12 Wartburg students travel to Nicaragua as part of a class to undertake projects in conjunction with the work of Self-Help International to strengthen communities in that country.
When does Community Builders meet?
Neighborhood meetings are scheduled five times during Fall and Winter terms.
What happens at the neighborhood meetings?
Individuals come together from various generations and backgrounds to learn about the local community. They begin by discussing definitions of community, service and learning. They learn about sites in their community which provide a service to the citizens in their community. Community Builders participants discover how participation and the ability to respond to authentic needs improves the quality of life in the community, which may lead to a lifelong ethic of service and civic participation. During the Winter Term focus shifts from the local community to the global community with particular attention to Nicaragua. You can view Town Meeting pictures.
What is the purpose of Community Builders?
We believe that building an appreciation for the value of community is important. We live in a democracy which requires the participation of informed citizens who care about their local community, country, and the global community. We think Community Builders can help people be better citizens by talking about the importance of community and practicing the skills that can help improve communities. This is consistent with the Wartburg definition of leadership, “Taking responsibility for our communities and making them better through public action.”
What are the projects Community Builders are doing?
Community Builders undertake projects that help each member understand and appreciate the value of community and civic engagement. Projects are developed by the members of the different Community Builders neighborhoods. For example, each neighborhood develops a time capsule, which represents the understanding of community and civic engagement as discussed in the respective neighborhoods. In addition, Community Builders participants work on service projects developed by those being served both locally and in Nicaragua. Local project recipients include libraries, child care centers, senior citizen residences, and organizations which work with the mentally and physically challenged adults. Community Builders also create hygiene and education kits for distribution to children in Nicaragua by Wartburg students working with Self-Help International. These and similar projects allow Community Builders to help build community as they practice arts of civic engagement.
Why is there a focus on Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is a part of our global community with direct connections to the local communities of Waverly and Shell Rock. Self-Help International, a local nongovernmental organization, works with communities in Nicaragua to promote nutrition, education, and hygiene. The local school social studies curriculum focuses on this part of the world and it allows for the students to connect their academic work to a broad social initiative. Wartburg students travel to Nicaragua during May Term to engage in service projects identified by Self-Help International and the Nicaraguan communities with which it works. According to Self Help International approximately 1300 people are impacted annually as a result of Community Builders projects.