As a result of a grant-funded initiative from 2011-2013 with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Community and Civic Engagement Initiative in the College of Liberal Arts continues to organize meetings and work sessions at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Notasulga on topics related to academic, personal, and workforce success.
Written by Blake Evans, College of Liberal Arts Graduate Assistant
November’s Macon Citizen’s Group Meeting, held on Tuesday the 12th, featured a presentation by Beth McDaniel, an Auburn University Graduate student in Human Development Family Studies. Beth engaged the students in an active discussion that encouraged them to articulate their definitions of social relationships. She explained to the students that healthy, productive social relationships are created through both verbal and nonverbal communication, and healthy social relationships are important because they can lead to better relationships with teachers, coworkers, and friends. As students discussed, this increases quality and productivity in many aspects of daily life.
Beth also led the students in a small group activity that required them to communicate effectively to work through conflict. The activity required students to quickly sort through dense information to come to a collective group decision. The diversity of opinion was high, but the activity allowed students to experience how strong social skills can diffuse conflict and improve quality decision-making.
The November Macon Citizens meeting was also memorable because it included a visit from Marie Cirillo, one of Auburn University’s community partners from Eagan, Tennessee. Marie, now 84, has worked in the Appalachian region for most of her adult life. She was originally a Catholic nun who travelled around the Midwestern region of the United States with the Glenmary Home Mission Sisters of America; however, after visiting the Appalachian region, she found a deep desire to spend her life working in mountain communities to engage citizens tackling the deep issues those communities face. On Tuesday night, she actively participated in the Macon Citizens Group activities, and she provided students with a wealth of knowledge and experience that was very beneficial to everyone there.