I recall last October, when I was in China, I got to do something pretty amazing…I got to sleep on the Great Wall of China in a tent. It was an uncomfortable, cold night and I did not have a great sleep; however, it is a time I will never forget because of where I was and the history that shrouded us that night. I was amazed by the vastness of the Great Wall. How many people did it take to build the wall? The resources and labour must have been astounding. It is difficult to think about the number of bricks that it took to build this wall…but bricks it took.
I sat there, on the wall, and stared at one brick in particular. There was nothing special about it. It was a rectangular shape and gray in colour. It was just a brick and I could have picked up any one of the many around me. I had it in front of me and I looked at it, lifted it and turned it around and looked at it again. I looked to the right and left and it was one of the hundreds of thousands of bricks that made up the wall. It got me thinking that we sometimes feel that we are just a brick and we blend in and there is nothing really special and unique about us. If that one brick in my hand did not exist, does it change the wall at all? No, it is just a brick, but what if we all felt insignificant and that we did not matter? What would happen to the integrity of the Great Wall? It would not be a strong wall.
What I am trying to say is that there is a great connectedness among us. The wall is only as strong as the bricks that are in the wall…each individual brick! It is no different than the walls around us but symbolically, we are only as strong as the connectedness we have to each other and where we are. Our connectedness is the mortar that binds us together. We are all important bricks that provide comfort, strength and solidness to the elements around us.
At Simon Fraser University, I have been privy to an exciting project that provides the connectedness we search for. Build SFU – www.buildsfu.ca is creating a Student Union Building, a place where people can gather and have a common space. While some would say that a structure and community are made of bricks, mortar and materials, I would argue that a community is made up of people and it shifts and changes every day. We dictate how the community feels every day. There is going to be a call to action to have supporters, enablers and champions to step forward to help build this. This involves students, administration, alumni and the community. We need you to be the bricks and mortar. Each of you will be a brick and no one brick is too important and insignificant. Together we build a community and a place for others to gather. The vision is there, now there is a call to action.
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