Andria Wisler Shares Thoughts on the Promises of Community Engagement at Day Two of TLISI 2015

Andria Wisler, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service gave a reprisal of her TedX talk from last fall. A theme from her TedX talk was Ithaca, The Road Not Taken, a reference to both Homer’s Odyssey and Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”  Andria’s story begins when her 7th grade teacher asks her to memorize Frost’s poem in the spring of 1989. Ten years later, Andria is teaching the same poem to low-income girls at the Cornelia Connelly Center in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She says these girls rarely got out of the city, and so the roads and trees conjured from the poem’s imagery were the busy intersection at Houston and Allen. Rather than a quiet wood, the intersection is noisy and populated. Her students claimed that Frost was wrong, as the narrator is never alone. For Andria, Georgetown University is a community that stretches beyond its own walls to its other campuses around the world, and to the communities of its educators and students. “When you arrive at two roads diverged in a yellow wood, whether on Allen Street on the Lower East Side, in rural Pennsylvania, or here on the Hilltop, you are not alone.” As educators, she says, it is easy to fall into banal critiques when thinking about communities. These need to be transformed into critical action. Referencing the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and her compatriots, Andria believes that social justice and community engagements are not selfish pursuits. Rather, they are selfless pursuits. One way she was able to engage her students was allowing herself open up so that they would open up. In doing so, she said she was able to move beyond her own privilege and realize the complexity of the poverty of these students. “Community engagement requires a willingness to be your full self--your weaknesses, strengths, privilege, ignorance, passions and fears--and to allow that self to change.” Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.50.23 AM Andria tells the story of how she arrived at her vocation as both a Professor and Associate Director at the Center for Social Justice. She was at a bar with a fellow student and when asked what she was doing with her life after graduating, she decided right then on the road of service in the form of teaching. Later, a college professor suggested she combine teaching with her love of peace studies. These were the “roads” she chose, and she began that road in the Lower East Side. Similarly, she says, the roads Georgetown students choose do affect them. College should not be considered an interval separate from life. Rather, students should engage in issues that concern communities while they are at college. Her own students have been engaged in issues such as Ferguson and income inequality. Andria puts forward that either road diverging in the wood can be taken, but must be taken with community. She hopes to engage other faculty and graduate students at the Center for Social Justice. CNDLS would like to thank Andria for her engaging presentation!

Andria Wisler, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service gave a reprisal of her TedX talk from last fall.

A theme from her TedX talk was Ithaca, The Road Not Taken, a reference to both Homer’s Odyssey and Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”  Andria’s story begins when her 7th grade teacher asks her to memorize Frost’s poem in the spring of 1989. Ten years later, Andria is teaching the same poem to low-income girls at the Cornelia Connelly Center in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

She says these girls rarely got out of the city, and so the roads and trees conjured from the poem’s imagery were the busy intersection at Houston and Allen. Rather than a quiet wood, the intersection is noisy and populated. Her students claimed that Frost was wrong, as the narrator is never alone.

For Andria, Georgetown University is a community that stretches beyond its own walls to its other campuses around the world, and to the communities of its educators and students.

“When you arrive at two roads diverged in a yellow wood, whether on Allen Street on the Lower East Side, in rural Pennsylvania, or here on the Hilltop, you are not alone.”

As educators, she says, it is easy to fall into banal critiques when thinking about communities. These need to be transformed into critical action. Referencing the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and her compatriots, Andria believes that social justice and community engagements are not selfish pursuits. Rather, they are selfless pursuits. One way she was able to engage her students was allowing herself open up so that they would open up. In doing so, she said she was able to move beyond her own privilege and realize the complexity of the poverty of these students.

“Community engagement requires a willingness to be your full self–your weaknesses, strengths, privilege, ignorance, passions and fears–and to allow that self to change.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.50.23 AM

Andria tells the story of how she arrived at her vocation as both a Professor and Associate Director at the Center for Social Justice. She was at a bar with a fellow student and when asked what she was doing with her life after graduating, she decided right then on the road of service in the form of teaching. Later, a college professor suggested she combine teaching with her love of peace studies. These were the “roads” she chose, and she began that road in the Lower East Side.

Similarly, she says, the roads Georgetown students choose do affect them. College should not be considered an interval separate from life. Rather, students should engage in issues that concern communities while they are at college. Her own students have been engaged in issues such as Ferguson and income inequality.

Andria puts forward that either road diverging in the wood can be taken, but must be taken with community. She hopes to engage other faculty and graduate students at the Center for Social Justice. CNDLS would like to thank Andria for her engaging presentation!