It happens every day on the University of San Diego campus, and yet it can fly under the radar, might not be visible, heard or spoken. It’s a feeling from within, one that carries an individual’s hopes, dreams and, ultimately, a destination.
It’s the inner desire to be a Changemaker.
Last week, USD, Associated Students and many others hosted the inaugural Changemaker Fest, five days of activities, workshops and events designed to help define, explore and put change into action. It also announced the three finalist ideas for the USD One Challenge.
Patricia Marquez, director of the USD Changemaker Hub, encouraged participants to embrace everything — the comfortable and the uncommon — so that the inner Changemaker could learn and grow.
“Some activities are very familiar, but there are others that’ll make you say, ‘what are they talking about?’ You might feel a little disconcerted, but that’s done on purpose,” she said.
The familiar included daily morning yoga, meditation, prayer and intention to set the tone for changemaking through mind, body and spirit. Other opportunities included ways to express, engage and set goals in the dialogue plaza; through a values and virtues space; voting in last week’s national election; or trying Bloomies, a process in which one writes a goal or intention on a special piece of paper, plants seeds on it and inspires both to grow.
The Changemaker Fest hosted workshops to delve deeper into a personal Changemaker pathway: Finding your inner Changemaker; the importance of nutrition; moving a social innovation idea to implementation; leadership knowledge; reflective exploration of social change; connecting to cultural awareness through words and music inspired by international study abroad; and sessions tied to the USD Center for Peace and Commerce’s USD Social Innovation Challenge.
One major takeaway was equipping students, staff, faculty and administrators with knowledge tools to fill a personal toolbox.
“The definition of a Changemaker isn’t found in a dictionary; it should be different for every person,” said Lennon Flowers, an Ashoka change manager for its empathy initiative. “To me, a Changemaker is someone who’s capable of looking at the world through a lens of opportunities rather than deficits and has the agency with which to bring about solutions to problems. It can be small, in terms of daily interaction, and it can be big in terms of reconfiguring existing resources to meet powerful, pressing needs.”
The event, “Uncovering the Potential of Social Change in the Emerging Future: A Reflective Exploration,” was presented by The Leadership Institute, which is connected to the School of Leadership and Education Sciences’ Department of Leadership Studies.
Led by SOLES Visiting Professor Zachary Green (pictured, left), this event gave attendees a chance to discover their personal skill set, put them in groups based on similar traits, and had them look both inward and outward to define the type of Changemaker they are, what they aspire to be and how they can work with others. Following some fun group exercises, attendees spread throughout UC Forum B and answered questions with introspective thoughts about what they’d learned.
• “Changemaking can happen now, I don’t have to wait,” stated one student in reference to what the world looks like to an emerging Changemaker.
• “If we all start with ourselves, the future will emerge,” said another.
• “My inner fire is burning bright, but I know it can also burn out. This makes me realize the importance of those whom I surround myself,” said one student about what he uncovered about himself.
• The group was asked what one word to describes what keeps a person from being a Changemaker. Answers included fear, anger, perfection and vulnerability.
The Changemaker Main Event and the Social Innovation Challenge program were equally important activities.
The main event festival featured food, live music by Vokab Kompany, and booths for attendees to learn more about on-campus resources to inspire their inner Changemaker. AS President Morgan Schwanke and student-athlete Kyle Miller, who developed an anti-bullying program, Lace Up Stand Up, both spoke.
Miller, a back-up Toreros quarterback, discussed changemaking as an ongoing process and likened it to football: “It’s difficult to score a touchdown on every play; work, instead, on getting first downs.”
Executive Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan then announced the USD One Challenge, a community-based idea to promote awareness and ideas for solutions to one of three issues — determined by voting, “likes” on videos shown on the USD Changemaker Hub Facebook page — Veteran Integration; Environment (Wasteful Production and Consumption); Children (Health and Wellness).
The day-long Social Innovation Challenge event was attended by students, faculty and staff either in the learning phase of social entrepreneurial idea development or honing an existing idea. It was a productive program with Ashoka’s Flowers, Transformative Action Institute founder Scott Sherman and Social Wealth Partners’ Rob Hanna hosting sessions that produced critical thought and discussion tied into USD participants’ innovative ideas and inner Changemaker.
Sherman defined a Changemaker as “someone who believes they have the power and the self-efficacy to make change in the world.” He said it was important to be on a college campus because he enjoys hearing students’ thoughts about changemaking.
“I want to hear their hopes and dreams first — then I connect,” he said. “I believe everyone thinks about making the world a better place, but if students hear something and they’re not articulating it that way, then they’re hearing language that doesn’t resonate with how they express or see themselves. You need to ask (students) what they care about and what they see as an ideal future for themselves. When they articulate it, that’s when it ties together a personal and social transformation.”
— Ryan T. Blystone