Learning as a Community: A Reflection

Discussion is one of the most powerful components of the Manresa Scholars Program. It is emphasized in the Manresa Dinner Colloquia, where professors and guest speakers challenge Scholars to think about ethical and societal issues, in the Manresa Seminars, where students utilize their eloquentia perfecta skills in presentations and debates, and in the Manresa Study Commons, where Scholars collaborate on projects and coursework.

Manresa Scholar Alexandra Berndt shares her thoughts on the participatory nature of the Manresa Program, and the importance of participation as both a speaker and an active listener.

In a community such as the Manresa Scholars Program, there is often an emphasis placed on leadership as engagement: always offering up your thoughts and contributing so that you and your peers can grow together into greater versions of yourselves. However, engagement and community is not exclusively about voicing your opinions. A large— and arguably more important— aspect of participation is listening.

What I have contributed to Manresa so far is just that— listening. As a freshman in college, surrounded by professors and peers of the highest caliber, I have no grand illusions of superiority. Learning and growing requires humility. I have used my time so far here at Fordham and within Manresa to absorb all that my surroundings have to offer.


At the end-of-semester Scholars Showcase evening, Alexandra Berndt (top row, 4th from right) presented this reflection.

If only I listen, I can use the valuable intellect that my peers and professors provide as the foundation upon which I can become the person worth listening to. I firmly believe that having a perspective worth listening to is the result only of first being willing to listen to the perspectives of others.

I have contributed the often-overlooked half of engagement, and thus minimized the pattern of speaking without really listening (and therefore speaking without really knowing much of anything). Ending ignorance and increasing intellect demands that I allow others to share rather than talking over each other with our fingers in our ears.



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