With, Not For: Bonner Community Fellows Attend Summer Leadership Institute in NYC

by Annie Williams, Communications and Events Coordinator
July 9, 2018

Harrison Tran, Andrew Castillo, Aaron Feng and Naotaro Kato (pictured, left to right) in New York City for the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute. 

Andrew Castillo, Naotaro Kato, Harrison Tran and Aaron Feng (pictured, left to right) at Wagner College for the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute.

Andrew Castillo, Joshua Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Carranza, Harrison Tran, Aaron Feng and Naotaro Kato (pictured, left to right) in New York City for the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute.

Andrew Castillo, Aaron Feng​, Harrison Tran and Naotaro Kato (pictured, left to right) in New York City for the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute.

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Four Bonner Community Fellows traveled with Swearer Center Student Development Program Managers Juan Carlos Carranza and Joshua Rodriguez to Staten Island from June 5-8 for the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute. 

The annual convening gathered 350 students, staff, faculty and community partners from Bonner programs across the country. Over the four days, the conference sought “to explore how our authentic, reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships and projects build and sustain our communities” (Bonner Foundation Website). 

This year’s conference was hosted by the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement at Wagner College. The Center emphasized the connection between the bridges present in the landscape of the Staten Island campus and the bridges made possible through the Bonner network. 

“[The] Bonner Summer Leadership Institute is one of the most inspiring moments of the Bonner program,” reflected Rodriguez, an alumnus of the Bonner program at Guilford College. “It serves as a reminder that we are not alone in the conversation of social justice and the importance of service learning.” 

The students had a chance to meet other Bonner Fellows as well as faculty and staff from universities in the program.

“As an alum of the program, reuniting with old friends who are now colleagues in the field was a heartwarming and moving experience,” Rodriguez added. 

The theme of the 2018 conference was “With, Not For,” highlighting the asset-based approach to community engagement through the Bonner Community Fellowship. 

Andrew Castillo ‘20 said he would “recommend for all Bonners to make the SLI trip if possible, as it's a great experience that really opens your eyes into what it means to be a Bonner at Brown and across the country.” 

Nari Kato ‘21 also expanded on how the Bonner program at Brown compares to other schools. “I learned that in many schools, Bonners have a large role in the politics and the leadership of the school,” he said. “They organize school debates and encourage diverse dialogue across campus,” and this leadership is “something Brown Bonners should learn from and improve upon.”

Harrison Tran ‘20 had the opportunity to consider the reach of the Bonner network and his future career. 

“SLI showed me that Bonner is a nationwide network with its own perks that surpass the undergraduate experience. I hope to learn more about what being a Bonner means outside of this academic context in college,” Tran said.

The four students also had time to explore New York City, venturing to Times Square for a few pictures (above). 

Carranza hopes the conference will continue to expand student leadership at the Swearer Center and Brown.

“As our Bonner program continues to grow, it's a goal to have more student voice and input in the growth of the program, so having students attend conferences like this is very important in making that goal a reality,” Carranza said.