EOSC GEAR UP Education Coordinators
Present Workshop at 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference

How do you build relationships? This question was discussed during an interactive workshop at the 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference, “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. . . Neither Are Relationships!” The workshop was presented by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP Education Coordinators Kamy Patterson and LaDonna Baldwin and FOCUS Training facilitator Todd Gehrmann.
Workshop attendees participated in an activity called “Community Build.” Participants created their own city from the ground up. They had to decide what it would look like. Using the laws of varied resources, participants visualized how inequalities within communities are created and the varied responsibilities associated with developing members of underserved populations.
Participants were placed in teams of six to eight and were randomly assigned to one of four communities. The communities were then given their lot of “land” designed on a pre-existing grid. All four communities shared a boundary that covered the perimeter of the grid. The more elite community held a much larger area on which to build. Their laws were more lenient or nonexistent. Their building materials were plentiful, colorful, and varied in degrees of usefulness. The other communities faced various challenges based on building materials, lack of square footage, opportunities, and law enforcement.  Laws of each community held varying degrees of accountability.  The very lowest community represented poverty with limited building materials, limited opportunities, and lack of equality. As the activity came to an end, participants realized the only boundary they had was the shared perimeter boundary. The separate communities were never restricted to movement or accessibility to resources within the shared boundary. The “aha” moment for each participant came when they realized they could have worked with any participant in any community to create one equal community with unlimited resources and opportunities.
“While it was a mock experience,” explained Baldwin, “it represented many of the frequent issues in communities where GEAR UP grants exist.”
After the activity, the GEAR UP practitioners attending brainstormed on how to utilize GEAR UP resources to reach even the most non–responsive students.

GEAR UP Education Coordinators Kamy Patterson and LaDonna Baldwin observe as workshop participants “build their communities” at the 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.