Reflections by Students, Alumni, and Supporters

Alumni and students reunited in May to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Here are some of their reflections from our “Fill in the Circle” wall along with greetings sent from afar:

Volunteering in CVA groups has shaped me into the individual I am today, a globally conscious, community-oriented social activist that will not stand idly by while poverty and violence strangles our society. You provided me with the opportunity and awareness to act and for that I am grateful to have been part of this organization. I have no doubts that CVA will only flourish in the future and here's wishing CVA another successful 10 years!   — Kevin Wang, CVA Alumni

Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of Student Open Circles!  And my deep admiration for your visionary leadership and ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of students.  I celebrate your courage 10 years ago to question some things, and strike out on "the road less traveled" in order to birth something as vital as the concept of what came to be known as "Student Open Circles".  Joy for the ongoing journey!   — Julie Bender, Past Reference Group Member

Thank you Open Circle for providing and continuing to provide a space for individuals to grow in body, mind, and spirit. I hope to continue to be a part of such a great group of people.   — James, Open Circle student

Thank you for the depth of community, opportun-ities for personal and spiritual growth, and helping me live and grow my commitment to social justice. My journey is different and richer as a result.   — Carly Gaylor, Open Circle & CVA Alumni, executive director of Welcome Inn Community Centre in Hamilton

For those of you who don't know me, I was one of the people involved in Open Circle when it first became Open Circle many many years ago.  (I'm starting to feel a little old).  I recently had some time to reflect on what community means.  I experienced living with groups of students when I was a single student at McMaster, and then deliberately chose to co-house with another family for a few years in Hamilton with my own family, before recently moving to a rural community out here in Eastern Ontario.  The topic of "community" came up with my wife a couple weeks ago, as we were discussing the differences between rural and urban living.  And I must say that my mind went to Open Circle right away, as I reflected on my experiences.  As I said to my wife - what I have learned over the past 10 years, is that community is really an attitude; a frame of mind.  It doesn't matter whether you live in the same house as other people, in a neighbourhood in the middle of a large city - or if you live out in rural parts, with only trees and deer as neighbours.  It's about coming together with other people, learning about each other, sharing ideas, working together, eating together, laughing together, exploring new ways of doing things, being welcoming, open and accepting, and creating a sense of trust and togetherness - trying to understand the bigger picture.  Open Circle truly provided me with that frame of mind, and every once in a while I miss that amazing sense of trust and togetherness that was created during my years within Open Circle, even as I strive to try and create that sense of community wherever I go.   —  Brian DeWolfsmith, Open Circle Alumni