Testament to our Sense of Community

One thing you will always get with a Scranton education is a strong sense of community, even in these difficult times. See what our faculty, staff, students and area residents are doing to keep the community strong in the Royal News article below.

A group of community organizers, led by University of Scranton faculty, staff, and students together with community partners, are asking area residents to share stories of resiliency. On April 30, they held an online dialogue, “Finding Community Amid Coronavirus,” to kick off the effort, with 25 participants joining from a range of backgrounds, spanning generations and across diverse racial/ethnic identities.

“In light of the current pandemic, we are asking area residents to share stories of when they or their community found the strength to overcome a difficulty. We hope reflecting on lessons of resilience we have from our pasts can help us face the coronavirus challenges of today,” said Julie Schumacher Cohen, assistant vice president for community engagement and government affairs at the University. “We know we have so many experiences that make up the story of Northeastern Pennsylvania – the coal mining era, economic hardship, military service, the journeys of refugees and immigrants. And across it all, the bonds of family, friends, and community are a common thread.”

Residents can easily submit their stories at Scranton.edu/findingcommunity and submitters can remain anonymous if they so choose. Images related to the stories can also be uploaded. The stories will be shared on the University’s website, social media, and other outlets, and may be accessed for University research or creative purposes.

“In this time of social distancing, we are trying to find ways to create community, to foster mutual understanding, and to build connections. By sharing and reflecting on our collective and diverse stories of resilience, we hope to help our neighbors draw strength and exercise empathy as we encounter this coronavirus pandemic, which has brought new struggles. The online dialogue allowed us to form a virtual community to share experiences; now we want to amplify that effort, keeping in mind that while we may be in different boats, we are truly in this ocean together. Collecting these stories also will help us catalogue this unique and challenging time for the future,” said Teresa Grettano, Ph.D., associate professor of English and theatre, and a co-leader of the University’s dialogue initiative efforts. The dialogue was modeled after a recent national dialogue series organized by Essential Partners, a national non-profit organization based in Boston, which the University has collaborated with over the past three years.

Additional Scranton faculty, staff, and students leading the effort are: Carolyn M. Bonacci, Community and Civic Engagement Coordinator; Tiffany Bordonada, Ph.D., assistant professor of counseling and human services; Cyrus P. Olsen III, D. Phil, associate professor of theology and religious studies; Amy Simolo, Ed.D., faculty development specialist for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence; along with University of Scranton student Conor Nealon, Duryea, who serves as an intern in the Community and Government Relations Office. Community members also involved with the project are: Gus Fahey, President and CEO, Valley in Motion; Margaret Gannon, IHM, Ph.D., IHM Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Professor Emerita, Marywood University; and Donna Korba, IHM Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Director of the Office of Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC).

This article was originally posted to Royal News.