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Social Change Starts with You

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Britany Broderick, Features Editor

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Take a step outside. What do you see? Is it the same as yesterday? The answer to that is no. Everything is not exactly the way it was yesterday. The world is constantly changing, for better or for worse and everyone is a part of it. On March 23rd, 2016 the University of New England welcomed Paul Rogat Loeb, the author of “Soul of a Citizen: How Can You Make Your Voice Heard and Your Actions Count?” The topic of the lecture was social change, and how people, especially students have the opportunity to be involved in changing the world. This lecture was a part of UNE’s First Day of Service which is set out to inspire students, staff and faculty to become more involved in their communities.

The concept of Social Responsibility can be daunting. Paul Loeb asks “How do ordinary people take a stand?” “How do they decide that there is something that needs addressing, some institution that needs changing, some problem that needs tackling, how do they do that?” The author gave the historical example of Rosa Parks and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks, an amazing woman who is remembered for creating change, was involved in her community. Before she became known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” she became involved in the Montgomery Alabama community through the local NAACP chapter. She attended meetings, training sessions and discussed important issues with people. This is how it all started, by recognizing an issue and taking the beginning steps to make social change.

Social change is not going to happen overnight and there are going to be obstacles in the way. Often, people conceptualize the thought that one person can’t make a difference; one vote won’t dictate the race. Paul Loeb has often seen students and other people ask these questions. “We’re particularly taught to expect such betrayals when we think about trying to change things, whether in our community or on a larger scale. “You can’t really do anything about it,” people say, and when they repeat it enough we start to believe them. “That’s just how things are,” we agree, then shrug and move on. We give up hope before we even start. “

Everyone has to start somewhere. There are many different ways in which students can be involved, both on campus and in their communities. On April 9, 2016 UNE will provide students with the opportunity to be involved and get engaged in their local community on UNE’s very first Day of Service. More than twenty nonprofit organizations will be working with over 350 students, providing them with volunteer experience and knowledge on issues surrounding them in their community.

As Paul Loeb said “The best way to get involved in social change is one day at a time.”

For more information regarding social responsibility and civic engagement, please contact Theo Dunfey, and the Office of Citizenship and Civic Engagement at [email protected].

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