When Pope Francis made his historic visit to the United States, the Ithaca College Catholic Community organized for students to take a bus to Philadelphia to see him in person. Evidenced by some of the students’ emotional reactions to this experience, it is clear that connecting students with important historic events is beneficial to their college experience.
While the campus and local community offer a number of ways in which students can get involved and engaged beyond the classroom setting, there may be much more to be gained from going to see a speech by a prominent national or world leader or attend a national or even international conference. In light of this, the college and leaders of campus organizations should make it a priority to continue to connect students with these opportunities.
Getting the opportunity to witness a monumental speech, as the Catholic students were able to do when the pope visited, is often highly educational and provides a very global and real context to what students might be learning in their classes or in their extracurricular involvements. When students were able to travel to and film the Selma march for NBC last spring through their visual journalism class, they were provided with not only being a part of a historic moment but also gained professional experience. These types of events are usually profound and powerful enough to resonate with students to make what they do on campus feel more relevant.
Attending conferences not only offers an educational experience, but also enhances networking opportunities, especially when these conferences are on a national or international scale. For instance, last year, Ithaca College Feminists United sent some of its club members to a national feminist conference in Washington, D.C. Students should be connected with the events and meetings that will help them meet professionals in the industries they are passionate about or wish to one day work in to ensure them higher chances of getting jobs and being successful in what they want to do.
Though it does cost the college money to send students to these events and conferences, fundraising measures among other sources of revenue can be utilized. Moreover, the more students are connected to historic moments and the professional realm, the more likely they are to be successful and educationally fulfilled, which reflects positively on the college. With this in mind, the college and its organizations should continue to present more opportunities to get students off campus and into profound experiences.