The Community and Civic Engagement Initiative held its annual luncheon with AU alumnus Natalie Glynn. Glynn, the guest speaker, is currently working on her Masters in Development Practice at the University of Minnesota. Following her graduation from Auburn in 2010, she joined Teach for America and spent two years teaching middle school science on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Sicangu Lakota. This past summer, as part of her graduate work, she worked in Cairo, Egypt evaluating a social enterprise incubation project for lowering the unemployment rate of educated youth.
Glynn emphasized the importance of civic relationships between academic institutions and communities. She said, “Communities, like people, have knowledge which must be transmitted from one generation to the next for them to maintain resilience and vitality. Cycles of boom and bust can be devastating for community knowledge, and this is where effective institution-community relationships can become a major safety net for an area and its people.” She also shared stories from her own experiences, one of which included details of her efforts to fit into the Lakota culture while she was teaching in South Dakota. She talked about how she worked alongside people such as “Leland Little Dog, a medicine man who used to work for the school” where she was teaching. Leland Little Dog helped her understand citizenship in Lakota culture.
The community partners who attended the luncheon learned from and valued Glynn’s experiences. Furthermore, the luncheon provided an opportunity for roundtable discussion where ideas could be shared and community work fostered. CLA hopes that events such as the luncheon will continue to encourage collaboration and discussion, thereby increasing the health of civic relationships.