Celebrating Community Engagement

From 15 to 20 August, Rhodes University is celebrating Community Engagement (CE) Week with a variety of activities that includes an Exhibition in the Eden Grove Foyer showcasing the work of 22 departments at the University.

The exhibition was open to all non-government organisations, educational institutions, civic organisations and interested individuals on Monday and Tuesday this week.

There are also 25 residences and societies that have organised events to mark the occasion. Diana Hornby, Director of Community Engagement at Rhodes said, “We are delighted with this response as the priority was to get maximum participation from as many different groups on campus as possible.”Events range from the launch of two more water tanks by Galela Amanzi, documentary screenings, workshops and site visits to outings for senior citizens and fun events for preschool children, all organised by different groupings. 

Community Engagement has been elevated as a core purpose alongside teaching and research at all universities. At Rhodes, CE is a young department and having a CE week is important because it is about highlighting, celebrating and promoting the work that has been done over the past year. 

Hornby is adamant that the Rhodes University Community Engagement Office does not intend to be the sole driver of community engagement at Rhodes, but will act as a catalyst and play a supportive and facilitative role. “We want departments, societies, residences and halls to own their CE initiatives and realize the benefits are mutual – they get as much as they give. CE should be infused into all we do and become part of the institutional culture of the University.”

Also being launched this week is a publication called CE: A Critical Pillar, which has captured some of the remarkable community engagement stories of Rhodes citizens and embodies the ethos of the  African proverb umntu ngumntu, ngabantu, which loosely translated means “a person is a person because of other people”.  

As Hornby says, “Those working and studying at Rhodes are privileged and have the agency to shape a gentler, more equitable society. We hope the events, talks, activities, publications and posters will motivate individuals and groups to use their power, capacities and networks to make a difference and become agents of change.”

Story by Cathy Gush



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