Engaging through sharing by Kristen Fleury
It was in the living room on Christmas Eve, surrounded by family, that I noticed both myself and fiance’s grandmother were the only ones not engaging. I sensed a loneliness that we both shared in that moment. We were both absolutely a part of it, yet for different reasons we were both not truly engaged in it. In her lap sat a present she had received earlier that day from her son. It was a photobook of old images of her hometown and family. I sidled up next to her and asked her to show me her new book and tell me about some of the images. I’m not sure how long we sat there lost in looking at the images and chatting, but I know we made a memorable connection then.
A similar feeling of connection can be, and should be, fostered in online communities. Over the course of the past month, we ran a photo challenge in our Loyola community encouraging members to share images of what they’re thankful for this time of year. We put no parameters on it – we just created the opportunity and waited to see what returned. What we got back blew us away! Stories of sweet notes given by a student to her teacher; deep sibling connections that keep people going in their toughest moments; descriptions of the hardships of being so far from family; tributes to new-age families composed of the closest of friends. Each story was a unique window into who our community members truly are.
To get an idea of the kinds of connections this type of sharing can create, check out a couple of our favorite posts by our community members below: