130 Students Gather for Swearer Center Preseason

Students from the Bonner Community Fellowship, along with four other Swearer programs and fellowships, returned to campus early for a week of workshops and activities.
by Susie Pentelow, Communications Coordinator
September 9, 2019
The whole group of Bonner Community fellows posing together
Five Bonner Community fellows stand outside the Bonner Welcome Dinner
Four students at the Bonner Welcome Dinner
Students at the Bonner Welcome Dinner
Morgan Brinker '21, Madavin Vong '21, and Tafari Williams '20 addressing students and their families at the Bonner Welcome Dinner
Students lining up outside during Pre-Season
A workshop taking place outside during Pre-Season

As the summer drew to a close and the Brown community geared up for the start of the fall semester, many Swearer Center students were already back on campus. Swearer Center Preseason, which ran from August 23 - 30, saw 130 students from Swearer Center programs and fellowships gather for a busy week of workshops, community building, and social activities. 

Preseason officially launched on Friday, August 23, when 100 Bonner Community fellows arrived with their families for early move-in. At the Bonner Welcome Dinner that evening, students and their families were addressed by Kelly Finn, Program Manager of the Bonner Community Fellowship at the Swearer Center; Bonner Community fellows Morgan Brinker '21, Madavin Vong '21, and Tafari Williams '20, who worked with Swearer Center staff over the summer to plan and facilitate the week; Dean of the College Rashid Zia ‘01; and the Swearer Center’s Executive Director Mathew Johnson.

In the following days, students participated in workshops like “Intro to Swearer,” “Bonner 101,” and “Providence is Not Our Playground,” where they learned about the Swearer Center’s reciprocal model of community engagement. A highlight was “Bonner Business,” where students familiarized themselves with the Swearer Center’s programs and structure by acting out program expectations and key concepts in a skit or song.

It is only the fourth year that the Bonner Community Fellowship, an undergraduate program in which students engage with a community organization throughout their time at Brown, has been offered, and Preseason marked the first time that students in all years attended sessions together.

“It was really exciting to see our four full cohorts together for the first time,” said Kelly Finn, Program Manager at the Swearer Center. “It led to a warm welcome for the Class of 2023, as upperclassmen came together to build community among the students.”

For the first time this year, current Bonner Community fellows presented workshops to their peers, including a session on opioid addiction with a training on how to administer Naloxone, facilitated by Clara Pritchett ‘22 in partnership with Brown Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and a session titled “A Day in the Senate - Everything You Learned About Government and Civics is Wrong,” led by Rainbow Chen ’21.

In the evenings, students attended social events, such as a dance DJ-ed by WBRU at the Swearer Center, tie-dye nights, and a scavenger hunt.

On Thursday, August 29, an additional 30 students from the Providence - Jerusalem Exchange Fellowship on Israel / Palestine, the Social Innovation Fellowship, the Storytellers Fellowship, and the Swearer Center’s Student Advisory Committee joined the Bonner Community fellows for the last two days of workshops and activities, and all 130 students gathered to listen to a welcoming address from Brown President Christina Paxson.

“It was great to have our first group of Social Innovation fellows together for Pre-Season!” said Steve Pokorny, who manages the Social Innovation Fellowship at the Swearer Center. “These seven students will be working closely over the next three years and have committed to learning about social innovation with the community as its the origin. The bonds students create though the icebreakers, workshops, and play build the essential foundation for the relationships they build and the work they will do over these next years.”

The week concluded with laughter and fun as the students gathered on the Ittleson Quad for the Swearer Olympics on Friday, August 30, where they competed in lawn games.

“Being involved in the planning and facilitation of Bonner Pre-Season was one of the highlights of my summer,” reflected Tafari Williams ’ 20. “The team that I worked on to help shape Preseason helped me grow and made me laugh in ways that only the Bonner family can. I am so excited to welcome the first-years to Brown and their Bonner experience!”