Beyond the Bubble brings first years into the Cities

Hamzah Yaacob

On Saturday, September 16, eight first-year students visited a community farm festival in Frogtown and a block party in Rondo, as part of a Civic Engagement Center (CEC) program to acquaint new students with the Twin Cities. Aptly dubbed ‘Beyond the Bubble,’ the program will hold monthly trips to different places on the CEC’s radar.

“I think the Mac bubble is real… I think a lot of students struggle to get out into the community,” CEC First Year and Student Organization coordinator Rachel Ladd ’17 said. She added that the program also serves a dual purpose of helping first years “transition into Macalester” by using community service to help facilitate relationships with one another. She hopes to eventually invite first years to help plan trips, making the program more meaningful.

“The community of Macalester extends beyond campus,” Ladd said. “I think it’s important to know your neighbors because you’re going to be here for four years.” Sophia Jones ’20, who participated in last Saturday’s trip, said that participants got a “good feel for the neighborhood” and learned about the challenges faced by the local community in obtaining healthy foods. However, although Lilli Kay ’20 “genuinely felt the trip was good,” she thinks food justice could have been discussed in the context of the city as a whole. She also emphasized that “it was good for getting to know each other.” Jones echoed this sentiment, saying she “definitely met a few new people,” and that the small group made it “easier to converse” and less “overwhelming.”

The Beyond the Bubble program is an attempt to expand a part of the Lives of Commitment (LOC) program. Eily Marlow, the CEC’s Program Associate for Vocation and Reflection said, “We thought we could use the excitement LOC students bring to going out into the Cities to energize other first years.”

Ladd expects a larger turnout at the next trip in October. Where will they take students next? Ladd has no firm plans yet, but she’s hoping to bring students to a farm and build on the food justice theme.