Boston University has a centre that seems to be very similar in concept to Oasis.
It is called the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground .
This year they have been developing a revisied vision that ‘recognizes the uniqueness of the Center in providing hospitality for the Boston University community, while supporting the significance of each racial-cultural community, honest and in-depth sharing across communities, collaborations among student groups, challenging conversations, leadership training, and vital programs that educate and delight.‘
This week the Provost made a significant announcement to create an enlarged facility. In doing so he has beautifully described Oasis.
(It)… “will be an interdisciplinary, interracial, interreligious, intersectional, and interpersonal hub where students can relate what they learn in the classroom to a broader quest for understanding, social progress, and peace.”
In keeping with this … mission, the Committee has recommended … (a) state-of-the-art facility that can become a visible symbol for Boston University and where students and members of our community can participate in casual and more structured conversations and meetings. The new center would offer space for expanded programming activity and staffing. It would also serve as an incubator for launching new initiatives, as well as for convening and co-hosting special events across the University.
We seemed to have found another sister centre to link with!
Flinders University has done an excellent job in already delivering a centre (Oasis) that is purpose-built for our mission and open approach here, a vision nearly twenty years in the incubator!
As a result, in this first six months of occupying its refurbished premises, the evolution of Oasis has accelerated.
Beside responsive encouragement to students who frequent Oasis, contributing to their social and mental wellbeing, Oasis hospitality has provided a focus for:
- collaborating with the School of Social Work, nurturing a new model for the placement of Masters of Social Work students
- providing theoretical and practical infrastructure for a successful inaugural International conference for Education’s Student Well-Being and Prevention of Violence Research Centre (SWAPv) in July
- nurturing two significant student initiatives – Cultural Connections, bringing international students together with locals, and the Gardening Collective, having a vision for a market garden on campus, while teaching sustainable horticulture
- networking with the wider community, increasing its volunteer team to fourteen, making connections with Rotary International, in support of Cultural Connections, collaborating in research on resilience, and being on the verge of developing leadership development programs for postgraduate international students
- opportunities for Nutrition and Diatetics’ Students Eating Well program and multi-cultural cooking in the Oasis kitchen.
I understand from a recently released independent research report, The International Student Barometer, examining the experience of international students in Australian universities, that 38%of international students at Flinders have used Oasis, with a 98% satisfaction rating.
The question, ‘how are we all going to live together harmoniously (despite difference)’ has always been one of the most fundamental questions for our time; and it gave rise to Oasis in the first place.
It’s encouraging for us to see others on this ‘inter – everything’ journey!