by Whitney Hopler, Communications Manager
Students in Mason’s Well-Being Learning Community (Well-Being LC) have built a strong community this academic year as they learn more about well-being together.
“As a multi-year resident of the LC, I can say that it has helped me grow my sense of self and purpose,” said student Fiona Husch. “With a strong focus on strengths and values, the associated course has helped me to hone skills that will serve me in my future career, such as active listening and compassion. Being a part of a community of others who are driven to self-improvement is like being part of a garden where we are all growing together and supporting each other.”
The Well-Being LC began as the Mindful Living LLC, which focused primarily on mindfulness. Now students have the opportunity to learn about a diverse range of well-being topics, such as strengths, values, meaning, purpose, resilience, compassion, and service. They also benefit from a variety of fun activities – from playing with therapy dogs to creating crafts together – and go on retreats together to strengthen their learning and friendships even more.
Katie Clare, Well-Being LC Instructor (and also Mason’s Associate Director for Resilience Programs), said the students have covered a diverse variety of topics so far this academic year. “In addition to a heavy focus on strengths and values in the fall semester, we also focused on introducing the six domains of well-being (physical, psychological, career, financial, community, and social) as components to develop. This spring we’re going to focus on creativity and resilience, and the students will have the opportunity to earn the Resilience Badge. In the fall semester, we concluded the course requirement by having a ‘Values Museum’ in the common rooms of the residence hall, in which students presented their top five personal values through stories and items. The students got to see and appreciate these elements of their peers in new ways through these physical items and through storytelling. It provided them with the opportunity to really think about the ways in which their values are/were present in their lives, not just how the values are abstract ideas that they claim.”
Clare also pointed out that some Well-Being LC students take advantage of leadership opportunities to produce programs for their community. “Some of our students take the lead in offering programming on the floor from craft nights, to game nights, to meditation opportunities.”
Student Diana Fernandez said that her time in the Well-Being LC “has really helped me to establish a strong sense of community at Mason. Interacting with others who also value well-being on a daily basis has allowed me to learn that there are different aspects to taking care of yourself and others. I learned more about the person I want to be through a variety of definitions of well-being. In addition, this learning process has especially helped me adjust to college in a positive, meaningful way, being both a first-year and out-of-state student.”
Student Aditi Goel, who was inspired from her Well-Being LC experiences to start the student organization Dare 2 Be Wise, said that “Living in an LC is like living with family whereby we encounter members with different perspectives in life. It is a great opportunity for personal growth and for building meaningful connections with peers. The LC retreat and the prompts in discussion boards really helped us know more about our floor mates. Moreover, the journals provided an opportunity for a purposeful reflection of the self and our actions.”
Current Well-Being LC students encourage other Mason students to consider joining their thriving community. “The best part of living in the LC for me has been being able to talk about certain things with everyone,” said student Josh Obeng. “I love being able to learn about ways I can improve in all aspects of my life in a healthy manner. Being around positive people who are aiming for the same mindset in life has helped me tremendously this year. I would say to go for it and don’t be scared to try something new. No matter what LC you join, you are guaranteed to have a new outlook and perspective on certain things.”
Student Sophia Keefe said Mason students can discover an accepting community in the Well-Being LC where everyone can thrive together. “The best part has been being in an accepting community,” she said. “Everyone is different and everyone in return accepts that. Go for it! I didn’t know if it would be for me but I totally love it! It can create a great college experience.”