DEI advisory group shares personal reflections on community building through hospitality
“Hospitality is about selflessness. It's about using what you know to create a welcoming, supportive environment for someone else,” said Laura Weiler ’00, head of community engagement. “They may never realize that you did it. But that's not why you do it. You do it because you care about them.”
Weiler’s remarks were among those of the seven faculty and staff members that comprise Trinity's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) advisory group, as they presented in Chapel on the theme of “hospitality” on Monday, September 19. Each member shared a personal anecdote that illustrates what hospitality means to them.
“Being hospitable in our community is pretty normal and seamless for us,” said Torey Burston ’12, campus coordinator. “When visitors show up, we don't have to act like we're someone else. It's who we are. It's sincere." Burston recalled lessons learned from his own grandmother. “She taught me to pay it forward and always give back,” he said. “So I feel like my job is to give back to you guys all that I've gotten by being a Trinity student ten years ago.”
Sarah McDermott, history teacher, encouraged students and faculty to seek out and welcome those whose perspectives don’t necessarily match our own. “[When] we invite new people in, are we just inviting them in to what we are, or are we inviting ourselves to become something new, different, better and more aware?"
“Hospitality to me means creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, and everyone feels heard,” said Sam Mickens, associate admission director. “It's being authentic. One of the things we do really well here at Trinity is try to give an authentic feel — both to campus and to what it feels like to be welcomed here.”
“Hospitality to me looks like my great aunt who was cooking enough to feed an army in her 90s,” said Stefanie Jochman, English teacher. “Her food always came with heart.” Jochman then encouraged the student body to think more broadly. “We can't always cook a big meal for each other ... but there are ways in our community that we can extend hospitality to each other… Regardless of our beliefs, all individuals deserve kindness, respect, safety and inclusion."