The Advocate Asks: Why SmorgasBard?
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of going to the SmorgasBard event hosted by the Center for Civic Engagement and the Career Development Office. Filled with various student-led, community-focused initiatives, such as Beings at Bard, the Scale Project, Nicaraguan Education Initiative, and others, the event sought to bring together the Bard community for a night of networking. Students had the opportunity to learn about various civic engagement opportunities, internship programs, Open Society University Network (OSUN) student fellowships, and more. The MPR was filled with students who came to decorate cookies, snack from charcuterie boards, drink horchata, and most importantly, connect.
I was able to speak with some of the event organizers and participants about their night at SmorgasBard and learn more about the event—the inspiration behind it, the goals of the event, as well as why events like SmorgasBard are important. Thanks to Lucy Huffman, a SmorgasBard organizer who works with the TLS project, Javy Polanco, a member of Beings at Bard, and Kai-Lin Kwek-Rupp, a Community Action Award recipient, for taking time to chat.
What was the inspiration behind creating the SmorgasBard event?
LH: “We wanted to get people together to see faces and speak to each other about the work they’re doing. I think a lot of times people may be doing one targeted bit of work that actually does connect to another bit of work, and getting to see each other face-to-face and hang out and have a good time is a way to spark collaboration. It’s also nice to celebrate all of the things that everyone does. There’s a lot of little work that goes into being engaged, like making phone calls all day, but those small things lead to bigger things; I think we need to take time to celebrate those every once in a while. To know that it’s not always easy, but it is always worth celebrating.”
What do you hope participants will take away from this event?
LC: “I hope they see there’s more than one way to get engaged. There’s a lot of different ways, and there’s so many people who want to do it, and sometimes it just takes doing it together.”
What brought you to SmorgasBard?
JP: I am an intern at CCE through Beings at Bard, which is a program that the CCE does in collaboration with OSUN, and our whole thing is storytelling. We find people with interesting stories, we interview them, and take a photo. We post the interview to Instagram to show the Bard community different people at Bard, and how people and humans exist here. Every week we make a post, and it’s someone in this network doing something really cool. We’ve interviewed people from multiple countries, and met a lot of different people through the international network. The goal of Beings at Bard is bringing the whole community together at large, connecting international students with local students, and having everyone’s story told to be seen and loved by all.
How do you feel events like these benefit the school climate?
JP: “They’re fun! It’s fun to be here. There’s free food, there’s cookies, and all of these different people from all of these different organizations. We get to talk about things we’ve done; it’s an event where different students come in, and different faculty come in, and we get to see what everyone is doing together.”
What brought you to SmorgasBard?
KK: I received a Community Action Award last summer, which I was super grateful for. Now I’m just here to hang out and see people’s posters.
What is a Community Action Award?
Kai-Lin: They’re funding for unpaid internships. It let me work with this organization called Project Rousseau to do asylum immigration and legal work, and provide support in that way. It felt really good. I got to be home in New York, and it felt good to get back to that community and reconnect after college. And now I’m here!
How do you feel events like this help bring our community together?
KK: “I think they force people to talk to each other and come out, and get to know people they wouldn’t necessarily get to know in other ways. It feels really good.”
I had a wonderful time attending SmorgasBard and talking to participants. It was great to hear their thoughts on the event, the initiatives they help with, as well as the importance of events like SmorgasBard in connecting our community. Everyone was having a great time and enjoying themselves, all the while networking with one another. Next time a networking event takes place, I highly recommend you go! Thanks again to all of our interviewees.
Post Date: 12-15-2023