Alcala Bazaar Day 2: Developing Ways Toward Success

Day two of the virtual Fall Alcalá Bazaar, a first for this signature University of San Diego activity, offered students a platform for discovery, for deepening their sense of purpose and for some, a potential sneak peek into their future.

Four of seven main categories organized by the Associated Student Government and the Student Activities and Involvement were available for students to do Zoom breakout room drop-ins: Changemaker, Multicultural, Special Interest, and Spiritual.

Changemaking Opportunities

In the Changemaker category, two of the largest entities, the Changemaker Hub and the Center for Peace and Commerce, had conversations with students to learn about changemaking opportunities and how students can grow their skillset and find their passion for making the world a better place.

Entry into the Changemaker Hub room had members of the Changemaker Student Committee sharing ways in which they each found something that clicks for them — an interest in sustainability, tackling the issue of homelessness, aiding a solution for clean and accessible water, and one project, the Ozzi reusable to-go box container, which has been in use at USD's Pavilion Dining area since last year and can replace up to 300 single-use containers.

The Changemaker Hub, run by two capable leaders in Political Science and International Relations Professor Mike Williams and School of Leadership and Education Sciences PhD, Juan Carlos Rivas, hosts the Changemaker Challenge each fall where students enter a video idea for a set theme. The 2020 theme is centered on addressing homelessness.

Similarly, but on another level, the Center for Peace and Commerce, a joint concept of the USD School of Business and the Kroc School of Peace Studies, provides students interested in social entrepreneurship a platform to extend beyond just a USD audience and go worldwide. The CPC, under the direction of Silvia Mah, PhD, and Juliet Zimmer, hosts the popular Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, which includes teams from both USD and St. Thomas University in Minnesota and numerous college representatives from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Africa. Preparation for this top level is done through CPC-hosted Idea Labs, webinars, special events, mentoring and other proven resources to help all students succeed.

Among the multiple entries in the Changemaker category, one new and developing organization at USD is the Students Working Against Trafficking (SWAT) Team. Sophomore Maddy Amaral spoke in the breakout room about developing interest in this growing epidemic where trafficking of girls, boys and sex trafficking is a problem in school districts everywhere. Amaral initially saw the film, "Taken", but when she came to USD last year and took an Emerging Leaders course, she did a project on trafficking to raise awareness. When she researched what resources USD might have, she quickly learned about a groundbreaking report that Kroc School Professor Ami Carpenter co-led in 2016. Amaral is now putting the SWAT Team organization together and seeks to be another awareness and action asset against trafficking.

Multicultural Nurturing

An equally vital organization is the Black Student Union. An organization for Black students by Black students, the BSU is experiencing the 50th anniversary of its founding at USD in 2020.

It may be 50, but one thing the BSU has not done until now is run programming remotely. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and USD's decision to teach classes remotely, Vice President Kaia Morrison indicated from her breakroom space at home in Chicago that remotely being in an organization takes a little bit away from the normal vibe of being on campus together.

BSU holds weekly meetings on Mondays — Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. Pacific is the next one. The organization has many activities, including faculty introductions, Black History Month (February), connect on more events with other USD establishments such as the African Student Union, National Society of Black Engineers, Torero Program Board and the Black Student Resource Commons. One additional event that had some success recently was a forum discussion with Black student-athletes at USD.

Support for First-Generation, Transfer Students

Two entries in a sea of special interest clubs, organizations and activities are ones to assist students who come to USD with a "label" of sorts. Having organizations at USD such as the First-Generation Student Association and the Transfer Ambassadors, is a great opportunity to meet and learn from slightly older students who've gone through many of the same instances that can give a new first-generation student or a new transfer student confidence and, perhaps, limit anxieties and stress of "fitting in."

One of the best aspects of meeting with these two organizations is that the breakroom hosts offer strength, support and empathy for new first-generation students and transfers. In the FGSA, Melissa Cabrera is a first-generation college student who is a junior at USD this fall. She was joined by Jessica Mehanalani Wilson, also a junior, but serving as an ally.

Andrew Alsoraimi-Espiritu hosted the Transfer Ambassadors room. He is a staff member in USD's Admissions Office and just earned a master's degree from USD's School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) Higher Education Leadership program. As an undergrad, Espiritu attended a community college before transferring to UC Davis so he brings his own transfer student experience when leading a group of ambassadors. His goal is to help transfers go through USD’s program and to inspire students to tell their stories and build a stronger community.

Spiritual Awakenings

The final breakout topic was a showcase for spiritual organizations that help students build their faith, like-minded community, events that challenge and support their faith and honor God. Attending the fall bazaar were InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Jewish Student Union/Hillel, Muslim Student Association, Students for Life and University Ministry. Be sure to visit their websites to learn more about them and check out events they have to enhance your faith journey.

Having the all-virtual Alcalá Bazaar show students many ways to get involved appeared to be a success. Zoom creates more focused conversations and the potential for more questions to be asked and answered, something that helps a student think clearly if something is right — or wrong — for them. Both outcomes are important in this process.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Be sure to check out the virtual e-catalog for the Alcalá Bazaar with video snippets of the majority of organizations present to learn more.


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