A group of Wake Forest University staff members of varying professions, ages and backgrounds gathered over lunch on August 1, 2017, in Alumni Hall at Wake Forest University to discuss the concept of community.

As University Advancement staff who facilitate University development, we began a discussion about the “power of the ask,” and that making it easy to say “yes” is a pathway to community. One particular example resonated with our group: one person in our group, who is also an alumna, was asked as a freshman to be a coxswain for the rowing team even though she had no previous experience rowing.

Our group expanded this discussion to the importance of entrusted responsibility and connected it to one group member’s example of her church community. This topic naturally led to a conversation about communities that provide members opportunities to excel, and how opportunities for achievement also play a role in communities. After a lengthy discussion, we dove into even deeper meaning: communities help us gain new perspective and sometimes even embrace us like family.

The conversation concluded with all of us sharing what we took away from the conversation. Some clear themes emerged:

  • Communities are diverse.
  • What it means to be a leader versus a follower.
  • Communities are safe places, but not necessarily comfortable places.
  • Communities help us discover new things, mindfulness and “soul rest.”