As a newcomer to the field of online learning, I believe that each and every opportunity I was presented with I approached with open arms and with a desire to become part of a community. I am more vocal in class than most of my peers and this has given me an identity that has been wonderful – but not without a price. My story of finding community and hope is a tragedy like some. I use writing as an escape and as a tool to help me rise above. And within the new community I’ve found there is acceptance, but as the piece talked about, there have been some “really tough moments”. There have been times where I was made to feel that what education I fill my plate with is a privilege passed down to me by someone I really don’t know. Parts of my education felt the same as though I did when dealing with my insurance when I was diagnosed with cancer. Here people were telling me what’s best for me and my life with very little knowledge of what was reality. This is the breeding ground for assumption. Then my next question goes to why would I want to continue my interaction within a community that says one thing on a website yet behind the scenes expresses something else entirely? How many times has that happened to large communities? My lessons devoted a great deal of time looking for warning signs that expose inequity in education. There is a community of these people as well. The community offers hope and encouragement – as well as criticism to help overcome difficulties.
The answer to many of the questions is simple: in the quest for equity there will always be winners and losers. People do not determine who goes into these categories – we put ourselves into these categories. I will not allow someone to make assumptions of me based on information that is on paper or contained within a small view screen and have those comments hold me back in anyway. I have gone “rogue” many times in my career and each time it has paid off in spades. I align myself with a community of strong men and women who are like minded. The speaker said that “community is deeply rooted in human nature.” Yes it is. My nature is to be strong. I take chances and risks that I know will better me because I am living my life. I also understand that many within my community may not understand or even approve of those risks. They are my risks to take. This is my life to lead and the reality, the community of brilliant men and woman that I communicate with through my education know only what they see in the little box or hear from tiny speakers. My sleeves are for my arms and not my heart. And sadly, this community that provides such insight and knowledge is only temporary. Upon graduation many of us will never … ever again. So my risks within this supportive community are only undertaken to better and reclaim my life and their approval or disapproval matters as much as a drop of water in a bucket – equally as important as all the other drops, but just another drop. And through what I’ve done I may ever inspire others in my community to take the same risks so that they too can get that piece that helps them open new doors and find new opportunities now while they are present and emerging rapidly. Perhaps they can simply get back a piece of their life that was taken from them and the only way to really get it back is to show that good can really come from negativity. This is something communities can grow on. These, however, are the risks I must take for the long run of my own life. There are other communities to join and brilliant minds to tap into – no one should be made to feel trapped within a community or made an outcast.
Each of us is part of community and as part of a community founded in education and equity is only a small piece of who and what we are. That small piece can either make or break someone. I came to a community of people that could give me feedback and criticism so that I could better my craft as a writer and so that skill could lead me to get my life back and recover some of what was taken from me. Again, I chose to continue my rogue ways. For years I have studied the martial arts, instead of the term “rogue” I prefer the term “Ronin.” It is Japanese word for a Samurai who does not serve a noble lord. My “human interaction” that the speaker spoke about passionately, will be conducted amongst a community of Ronin. The speaker mentioned how the pandemic made so many people feel lonely. I may not be a part of Gen Z, but I do understand how policy and community can make a person feel entirely cut off from the world. Thankfully there is a community of those people as well and they need someone to show them the ropes.