What is an empowering community?
May 27, 2024

What is an empowering community?

Community is more than just the people we encounter in our daily routines while commuting to work or buying groceries. It’s an essential part of our lives as social beings. When we lack confidence, we will not ask a stranger for advice, because we look to people whom we trust and admire. True empowerment within a community goes beyond mere presence. It’s about feeling safe to be yourself, to make mistakes, and to receive support and understanding from others. Empowering communities foster an environment where every achievement, no matter how small, is celebrated, and where everyone’s efforts are valued. 

Community, community, community… But do we truly need it? Can we remain content in solitude? What would our lives look like without social connections? I dare say, it would be near impossible. Social interactions enable us to build relationships and feel a sense of belonging. Regardless of how accomplished or self-confident we may be, we invariably seek validation from those whose perspectives we value. For instance, we want to hear compliments or confirmation of our efforts. This sense of validation affirms our place in society.

All empowering communities are communities, but not all communities are empowering. What sets an empowering community apart from the rest? How can you know if you are a part of it? How do you find an empowering community? How can you get the maximum from being in such a community?

An empowering community is your place of strength, where every interaction begins with a simple “please”. Maybe it sounds banal, but mutual appreciation and respect among community members are essential for fostering understanding and mutual benefit. When delegating tasks within the community, it’s crucial to begin with a polite “please”, ensuring that you provide all the necessary details concisely and coherently, and you are ready to address any questions that may arise.

Value is another crucial aspect. In an empowering community, every member’s contribution is valued, no matter how small. As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan”. Community thrives on unity and this is the biggest strength! Achieving remarkable results is nearly impossible without the guidance, perspectives, and ideas of others. While you may be able to accomplish tasks alone, the journey is likely to be more challenging. In moments of victory, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate everyone who contributed. Conversely, in moments of defeat, you have to be brave enough to accept responsibility and accountability.

An empowering community is impossible without equality and acceptance. Imagine you joined a new sports club at your university. Before you joined, the club had already achieved many victories, achieved fame, and even attracted media attention. Naturally, you might initially feel like an outsider. However, being a newcomer in an empowering community can actually be your biggest advantage! In the right community, everyone is welcoming and open to newcomers. New individuals bring fresh knowledge, ideas, and perspectives. Equality within the community is vital; everyone should be treated as an open book waiting to be explored. Remember: sometimes, our assumptions about others can be incorrect, so it’s essential to remain open-minded and eager to learn something new from each person you encounter.

How can you determine if you are part of an empowering community? The answer lies in your inner feelings. Members of an empowering community are often characterised as polite, reliable, open, inspired, and active. However, identifying such a community ultimately depends on your feelings and perceptions. Trust me, once you recognise it, you’ll know when you belong to the right community because it will be the first place you turn to when you feel like giving up. The community will believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

Talking about how to find this type of community, I have some advice. First of all, think widely. Do not limit yourself to exploring new hobbies or reading only one type of book. The further you stretch your horizons, the more you’ll discover. Secondly, seize every opportunity to go out and meet new people. Attend various events with diverse audiences, as you never know who you might come across. Finally, “Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you”.

Following 24 February, 2022, the sense of unity rescued all Ukrainians from despair. Community is about lending a helping hand, and Ukrainians, despite being divided into different groups, came together as one caring community. It was our collective strength that enabled survival during that challenging time. It was a period when the true power and value of the community became apparent. Now, we contribute. Now, we aid even those we’ve never met. Because we care. We care about the future and the nation that unites us. 

Upon joining the Young European Ambassadors initiative, I was pleasantly surprised by the great number of proactive individuals I encountered. Many of us were engaged in international programmes representing Ukraine, while some had internships in well-regarded organisations. Their achievements are countless. However, despite the fact that I didn’t have any meaningful achievements at that time, I felt welcomed and desirable. This allowed me to utilise every opportunity to gain countless valuable insights and build connections. 

Traits such as respectfulness, politeness, responsibility, and openness are essential for fostering an empowering community. However, individuals should be united, not by uniform opinions or beliefs, but by a shared understanding of these principles.

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