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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Getting involved & popping the Wofford bubble

Photo courtesy of Mark Olencki. Building Sustainable Communities class meeting with community partners. This course pushes students to engage in community-based learning in Spartanburg, working to pop the Wofford bubble.

As a senior, I am painfully aware that my days as a student at Wofford are dwindling. As this fall semester comes to an end, I cannot help but reflect upon my Wofford experience. 

Like many other students, I can remember the first time I visited our dear Wofford’s campus and the first tour I took. Bright eyed and bushy-tailed, I listened as my tour guide talked about the beauty of Wofford’s close-knit community. 

I was sold; I believed that this closeness was exactly what I wanted out of my college experience. 

What I did not know was that to some, this closeness is referred to as “ the Wofford bubble;” this connotation is usually less than favorable. 

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I came to learn that the exact thing that made me fall in love with Wofford is the same phenomenon that caused much of the Spartanburg community to feel hesitant about their own place on Wofford’s campus.

“Popping the Wofford bubble” is a phrase that I have become more familiar with, as I am sure is the case with other students as well. But how do we do that? What can we, as individual students, do to pop the Wofford bubble? 

As daunting of a question as that may be, the answer is simple – find ways to get involved in the Spartanburg community. 

Getting involved and popping the bubble should be motivated not by required community service hours, but by the fact that we, as Wofford students, have privileges and can make a difference in the communities surrounding our school. 

This can be uncomfortable at first, but I think that college should be a time of growing and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, being uncomfortable is necessary. 

It’s not as hard as one might think to find ways of getting involved in the community; you just have to look for them. 

This academic year, I am taking a year-long anthropology course taught by Alysa Handelsman, called “Building Sustainable Communities.” This class has introduced me to work being done in the Spartantanbug community, inspiring me to get involved with some of these initiatives. 

The first half of the school year is spent learning about Spartanburg and community-based learning, while the second half is dedicated to us students leading our own service projects. 

Although this course has been challenging and pushed me out of my comfort zone, I am very thankful that it has helped me to see the importance of breaking the infamous Wofford bubble. 

Spartanburg Housing Authority’s Homework Club is one of these programs that I, as well as other Wofford students, have been involved in. 

Sarah Buckmaster ‘24 is one of these students and has taken on a large role as a volunteer at Homework Club and helps lead the day-to-day activities involved with it. 

Buckmaster said that students breaking the Wofford bubble and immersing themselves in the community is very important. She explained that her involvement at Homework Club and the relationships she has built with the children there has made an impact on both herself and the children. 

“We are very privileged to be able to seek higher education at an institution like Wofford, and by volunteering and learning from the Spartanburg community we have the opportunity to apply the liberal arts education we’ve received,” Buckmaster said. “Homework Club and the Spartanburg community has more to teach Wofford students than we think.”

While Homework Club is only one example of getting involved in the community, I would encourage each student to find something to become involved with that is tailored to their interests and skill sets. 

There are so many opportunities for students to learn about and engage with the Spartanburg community that exist, just waiting for students to take advantage of them. 

During my years at Wofford, I found that, when I started to become involved with the Spartanburg community outside of Wofford, my college experience felt much more meaningful. 

Only after I looked further than the close knit Wofford campus that I had been sold on during my first tour did I feel like I was truly growing as a person.

While there are certainly benefits of being a part of the small, tight knit community that is Wofford, I think that challenging oneself to push beyond this bubble is something that all students should incorporate into their years at this school. 

Whether the involvement is volunteering at a program like Homework Club, the Spartanburg Opportunity Center or a local school, there are so many ways to be a part of something bigger than the Wofford bubble. 

As a senior, I wish that someone had told me to pop the bubble earlier in my time at Wofford. 

Now that I have become more involved in the Spartanburg community, I have learned so much more about this city that we as Wofford students live in; and I have learned so much more about myself.

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