People are intrinsically social and have a strong need to feel included in groups. This sense of connection and affiliation with others is often called a sense of belonging. Students who have a sense of belonging feel more connected to their academic programs, work, and overall Michigan State University experience. Melissa Rodriguez, alumna, discusses in this featured video how joining student groups and reaching out to others in the Latinx community helped her to develop a feeling of belonging while attending MSU.
Each of us can help to contribute to others’ sense of belonging by intentionally reaching out to peers to make connections, asking for input and ideas, and encouraging story telling. For example, when I am at an event or around others, I summon the courage to speak to at least one person that I do not know. I introduce myself, pronouncing my Vietnamese name, and ask them how they are doing. While I often feel nervous, this simple act of saying hello and reaching out helps me to connect with others and contributes to my own feelings of belonging.
What will you try this week?