Our Newsletter

Download or Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter for inspiring stories and insights, with reflections by our staff, Marybeth Leis and Jeff Druery and by students.

Searching for Connection in a New Place

August 2019

First-year students are moving in! And within hours and days, they will be adjusting to this new environment, dealing with the loneliness of being far from home, and searching for connection in their lives as students. In this letter, hear Clare, Hardil, Elise, Holly, and Kristy remember how Student Open Circles eased their transition and helped them to find meaning and service in their new life at McMaster.

Changing Lives in Hamilton 3538 Times

June 2019

Every week, hundreds of Student Open Circles volunteers leave the university campus and go into the Hamilton community to make meals, provide homework help, assist adults with disability, conduct environmental cleanups, and mentor children and youth. When we add up how many people each group serves, the total is 3538. In this letter, we share just a few of the stories and comments from our community partners and our student leaders; we hope that it gives you an appreciation for the positive difference that Student Open Circles is making every week!

The Power of Listening

March 2019

In Student Open Circles, young adults are learning to listen. For many, it starts with tuning into their own questions and longings. Giving kindness and attention to their inner struggles and growth helps them to be more attentive and caring towards others. As Shantal describes, hearing people is not the same as listening to them. For Marisa, learning how to listen to herself has allowed her to be her best self and to care for others in a deeper way. In individual spiritual companioning, we help students to listen for where meaning is emerging in their life.

Waking Up through Action and Reflection

December 2018

Like Amanda, some of our student volunteers wonder why they need to spend time reflecting each week after serving needs in Hamilton. And then, they find that in the combination of action and reflection, they “wake up.” They wake up to meaningful connections with their peers and with the people we are serving. They become attentive to their own lives and growth. They grow into people who are “willing to learn, care, and give.” For Allyson, as a PhD student and Teaching Assistant, being surrounded by such engaged, awake, and empathetic undergraduates awakened her compassion for the students that she evaluates, even the ones who are anxious, demanding, and angry!

Supporting Students to Make a Difference

September 2018

Student Open Circles gives students the support they need to be present to their daily lives, their relationships with others, and the difference that they can make. For Chari, this support helped him to find a sense of purpose and to respond thoughtfully instead of reacting to whatever life throws at him. For Chari and Betty, they discovered themselves as leaders inspiring change in the lives of children and youth.

Making Meaning-Full Connections

May 2018

For Yechan and Danya, it started with making a positive difference in the lives of children and youth through our volunteer groups. Reflecting with their peers helps them to connect their service with their motivations, values, growth, and plans to make meaningful connections to others in the future.

Community that Changes Lives

March 2018

When students experience real community it is life-changing. Yi and Martin describe the difference it makes to be part of an inclusive and safe group, where they feel held and supported by others who know and care about them.

Spreading Compassion

November 2017

Our world needs more compassion. Whether it’s the at-risk youth in the inner city who needs mentorship, social support, and help with their homework from weekly volunteers like Justin, or whether it’s a university student like Jonathan who has been engaged in a lonely search for meaning, we all need the support of people who truly care about us. Student Open Circles is creating places of belonging, where students can receive the care and support they need, and then reach out and spread that care to others in practical and life-changing ways.

Am I Enough?

August 2017

What is enough? Am I enough? These are questions that students feel but often run from. The feeling that there is something wrong and it’s me is reflective of the larger culture where there’s so much competition to look and act and succeed in a certain way.

15 Years of Changed Lives

May 2017

Student Open Circles began 15 years ago in response to students’ need for safe spaces to explore their big questions and to serve together. Today, this need is even more visible! As much as ever, we need young people who reflect deeply about who they are, the values that they live by, and what their own unique contribution is towards a world that embodies compassion instead of fear.