Students Impacted by Community Tour of Bridgeport
Andrew Martinez, a social work professor at Sacred Heart University, and a group of his students held a walking tour in Bridgeport’s historic South End neighborhood in early November. The walk was a “Community as a Campus” activity—an effort to move learning outside the classroom and into the community. The tour was an experiential learning opportunity and an endeavor that aligns with SHU’s mission of preparing students who will contribute to the human community.
The tour, which focused on the theme of affordable housing, met with a wide-range of stakeholders including Denese Taylor-Moye, South End councilwoman; Richard Tennenbaum, Connecticut legal services attorney; Barbara Kelly, real estate agent; a renter who lives in the community; Carmen Colon, director of Alpha Community Services; and Maisa Tisdale, executive director of the Freemen Homes. Students learned about the issue of affordable housing from a wide range of perspectives and competing viewpoints. One highlight of the morning was a meeting with Taylor-Moye with Tenenbaum. The group drank coffee in Taylor-Moye’s living room and discussed issues of oppression and how it’s manifested within the community and housing public policies.
Students learned how the processes of oppression are manifested within inner-city communities. They were also able to better understand issues concerning social justice, empowerment and community strengths. The day ended with pizza at a local downtown Bridgeport eatery where the group continued conversations.
Students had many positive things to say. Some said the experience helped them “personalize what was learned in public policy.” Others came away with a deeper appreciation of the importance of macro practice, understanding individuals within their social context and the impact of a community’s history. One student said, “It illustrated how a population or area’s history is essential to understanding it in the present day.” For others, the experience allowed them to reflect on privilege and solidified their decision to become a social worker. Another student said, “It made me reflect on myself and how I am grateful for what I have, and it made me excited to become a social worker to help advocate and help others who are in need; it was reassurance that I’m in the right field.”