Just because we are academics doesn’t mean that we should cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. Actually, because we are academics, we shouldn’t fall into that trap! We have a specialized knowledge and the chance to share that (and learn something in return), which we should take advantage of.
Universities, at times, can be so cut off from the communities around them. Instead, we should be building links to the members of these communities, conducting research and learning from them to expand our knowledge of cultural studies, how the world works, and how those peoples’ lives affect what we are professing to learn and cultivate every day.
How are we going to help others (or teach our students how to deal with the great outside world) if we refuse to get our feet wet?
There can be many opportunities to begin bonding with the community or it may be that you have to find your own way. Regardless, it is key to begin communicating. That is the first step, important to establishing identification with the people. After that, the relationships can grow, with each mutually helping the other and hopefully each party can get the most out of it.
The world needs social change and we academics can help give the people the tools to make that happen. We have had the privilege of an education experience and the best thing to do is pass that on to make a difference in the community members’ lives. Step out of your little office and your libraries and learn first-hand through a model of teaching and learning simultaneously!