Facilitators Lead the Way

The planning and hard work behind Community Conversations


Photo: Nicholas Lee

Student facilitators meet via Zoom to plan the upcoming Community Conversation.

“The biggest challenge we’ve faced this year is the schedule [changes],” senior Nicholas Lee said.  “Just trying to still have Community Conversations in an online environment that is constantly changing from half days to full days, or full days to something else… has been difficult.”

Community Conversations help University Prep students feel more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 

Lee has been a facilitator since his freshman year and is now part of the executive team, working on the programming and research side of the conversations and mentoring other facilitators as they make their own plans.

“What really pushed me to be an exec was really just the goal of Community Conversations and trying to make it so that the students at UPrep are developed, not just academically, but socially as well.””

— senior Nicholas Lee

The continuous schedule changes and new online environment have made planning and leading Community Conversations difficult for all facilitators, but it is especially intimidating for new facilitators.

“This is a really new experience [for me] and, in a lot of ways. It has taught me to be confident in myself and how I address people,” first-year facilitator and sophomore Claire Crawford said. “It’s also a completely new skill set with organization and thinking about how people are going to act in certain situations.” 

In preparation for leading conversations, Crawford spends a lot of time finding online resources, such as articles and videos that support her topic.

“There’s a set group of activities that we usually do, breakout rooms or spectrum activities [based off of] your topic and resources,” Crawford said. “A lot of it is asking your faculty partner what has worked for them, and also just thinking about what has worked in the past for your group.”

Junior Hermona Hadush is also new to facilitators this year and joined in an attempt to better understand the inner workings of Community Conversations.

“I wanted to see if I would be able to create a better conversation for other people so that they wouldn’t get that same bored feeling [that I experienced],” Hadush said. “Also, it’s a good way to learn how to lead a group and gain leadership experience.”

To Hadush, the student involvement in planning and leading Community Conversations is what allows them to be so impactful. 

“These conversations that we’re having are to create a better community at UPrep within the student body,” Hadush said. “It’s especially important because it’s a majority student led club… [and that] may make people feel safer and more included in the conversation.”