Living Learning Communities: Creating your GU Home
As a prospective student touring campus, I heard students excitedly refer to the “Gonzaga Community.” I’ll be honest, I was uncomfortable at first and had no idea what they were talking about. But I soon witnessed this “community” they spoke of, and the first place I experienced it and really started to feel comfortable was in my Living Learning Community, the Women for Others floor in Coughlin Hall.
One of the best ways GU fosters connections is though Residence Life, specifically through Living Learning Communities (LLC). The purpose of Living and Learning Communities is to take the vast Gonzaga community and create smaller communities among people that have similar interests and passions. Within Coughlin Hall there are four LLCs: Learns 2 Lead (leadership), Cura Personalis (care for the whole person), Women for Others (service), and Encountering Cultures (global engagement). A few other LLCs include Goller, an Engineering themed hall, Marian is Outdoor Adventure themed, and Lincoln is Biology themed.
There are many benefits to living in a LLC, but there are two important aspects to them that have really influenced not only my experience at Gonzaga, but also who I am individually. First, living in my community gave me a place where I had more than the same interests as others; I shared values with others. These commonalities go deeper than you both play soccer or love Adele. These shared values allow you to grow in the attributes that you already have. In LLCs you are surrounded by like-minded peers, but are challenged to expand and develop. Living on the Women for Others floor gave me an immediate place where people had the same passions as I did. Everyone saw the importance of service. That allowed us to bond beyond the residence hall and into the Gonzaga and greater Spokane communities.
This leads me to the second aspect, which is that LLCs connect you with the Gonzaga community to a greater degree, and sometimes quicker than other freshmen. With the opportunities available at Gonzaga and the support system of Women for Others, I took part in a variety of service opportunities. I volunteered at Alexandria’s House, a safe place for teen moms and their children, Catholic Charities, Zag Volunteer Corps, Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation, and the Alumni Easter Egg Hunt. These programs helped introduce and connect me with the people living in Spokane, as well as other Zags outside of Women for Others. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that service is not only for others, it is with others.
It is qualities and concepts like these that show the importance of LLCs. They create an environment that fosters personal development. They help you grow as a person, whether that’s into a better leader, or the importance of caring for the whole person, or even simply having other biology students for a study session. Living in a foreign environment is scary, and it’s natural to want to be in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. LLCs give you the comfort you are looking for; you will already share something with your peers before meeting, and that’s something!
These people will become your friends, support system, and dinner buddies. You’ll have wonderful intellectual conversations as much as you will have conversations that will leave you laughing on the floor. Lastly, I am thankful for LLCs because without them I might not have ever met one of my best friends, and now roommate, here in Florence, Italy where I am studying abroad. But you should know that wherever you live there will always be more than one community ready to welcome you with open arms.
Elena is a Junior from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is studying Biochemistry and Psychology and is currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy.