In the fall, Bonner staff conducted our regular training and development meetings online over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and we underwent a crash-course on adapting these meetings and other learning opportunities to an online format.
For our regular internal meetings, Bonner administration developed a series of virtual seminars and discussions which addressed the first of our nine key student learning objectives: critical thinking, teamwork, emotional intelligence, effective communication, and ethical decision making. (The remaining learning objectives, to be covered in the spring, are problem solving, social responsibility, and cultural competency. Civic engagement, our ninth learning outcome, is targeted by all program activities.) In addition, we continued to host a short series of seminars on leadership theory and practice.
Taking advantage of our new virtual world, we invited several guest speakers and alumni to present to our students, and we urged more students to lead huddles than ever before. Our guest speakers included Dr. Allon Friedman on the developing COVID-19 pandemic, and Dr. Ben Rayder from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards on framing your personal narrative. Bonner alumni led three meetings on diverse topics including a graduate school informational panel, tips for work-life balance, and an attempt to illuminate the scary mysteries of successful “adulting.” In addition, our students led huddles on an introduction to community health, and new food insecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and our partners at New Hope Housing spoke to our students about affordable housing challenges and policies in Houston.
Though the lack of in-person gatherings makes maintaining morale and a strong learning community difficult, every chance to see our students and learn from each other and our communities contributed to the advancement of student learning and leadership development. We are grateful for the technology to continue to meet and serve virtually, as we will continue to do this spring. As the pandemic and the new year march on, Bonner remains committed to its mission of alleviating poverty and improving life in our Houston community, and to the development of critically thinking, socially responsible citizens who will continue to serve their communities, wherever they end up.