A Sense of Finding My Community
It started at a church meeting when Gloria was talking with her friends Jody Maltby and Karen Hilfman Millson about needing some mental engagement and looking for a focus for her energies. They suggested that Gloria take a look at CCS. “I think you’d like the learning style.”
Gloria Tozek is a student in the Certificate in Social Justice program at the Centre for Christian Studies.
“When I started at CCS, I wasn’t planning to do a certificate; I was just going to take some courses. But when I heard about the certificate option in social justice I was interested. Social justice really calls to me.”
“I’ve always felt a desire to contribute to the world and do my small part,” says Gloria. “This has been a thread throughout my life.”
Gloria describes her experience in the certificate program as very positive. “That’s why I’m still here! I love the community.” Although Gloria, like so many, longs for the time when we can all be together in person, she has been surprised at the sense of community she gets even through zoom.
One thing that struck Gloria strongly in her first learning circle, last year’s Relationships circle, was, she says, “the sense of finding ‘my’ community.”
“This was so strong for me – how good it felt to be with other people who care a lot about the same things I care about; who share concerns. This has been very affirming to me. So often in my regular daily life I feel like I’m needing to explain myself. I don’t have to explain myself in this group. Not that we are all the same, but there is a common thread underlying our discussions and conversations. I just value this so much.”
Gloria admits that it has been challenging getting back into academic work. “Doing the readings for the first course was really challenging. I had been retired for 10 years so I hadn’t used that part of my brain for a while. And the technology has been challenging for me. But I’ve learned a lot.”
Gloria appreciates the co-learning approach at CCS. “I still have a tendency to default to the old school method of ‘I’m the receptacle and you fill me up’, but I love the learning opportunities in the exchange of ideas in the circles. For example, today in the Ministry as Community-builiding learning circle we had an exercise/game called Utopiaville where we had to make decisions about a simulated community. It was an opportunity for us all to really engage in the topics, discuss different perspectives, and make connections to the readings.”
What would Gloria say to someone who is interested in trying something new and learning in a new way?
“JUST DO IT! You don’t have to have it all planned out or know what will be next. Just overcome whatever barrier and take that one initial, first step. And you will find there are lots of supports for you once you take that first step. The staff are helpful and your fellow students will be supportive as well.”
If you are interested in a certificate program at the Centre for Christian Studies (Social Justice, Spiritual Care, Education and Worship, or the Anglican Certificate in Diaconal Ministry) contact CCS for more information or apply today.