Team-building organization brings drums to campus

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More than 200 students drummed in unison to celebrate the final meeting of Connections, a bonding program for first-year students, and formal beginning of the Community Renewal program at TCU Thursday evening.

An interactive team-building group, Drum Cafe, performed traditional African dances and percussion routines, while incorporating students and faculty who filled the western portion of the Campus Commons. Daniel Terry, assistant director leadership & Community Renewal in Student Development Services, said the event was meant to give students a sense of unity, one of the major components of Community Renewal at the university.

Community Renewal International began as a foundation that’s mission was to rebuild disintegrating communities, plagued by criminal activity, domestic violence and other social breakdowns. Alumnus Mack McCarter started the project in neighborhoods near the Shreveport-Bossier City area in Louisiana to fight what he called the world’s second biggest problem.

“What we wanted to do is undertake the second greatest challenge that’s facing humankind,” McCarter said. “The first is that we’ve got to have a healthy planet, but the second is that we’ve never grown a society that’s gotten better and better, every society has grown and collapsed.”

Now McCarter’s model for social change is being implemented into university settings, starting with TCU, Terry said.

Terry said that several years ago, Student Affairs staff members began to take notice of McCarter’s work in Louisiana. They were impressed with his organization’s ability to unite a community through simple bonding initiatives.

“Obviously TCU doesn’t have much in common with a disintegrating neighborhood,” Terry said. “But we thought there may be things in his model of community transformation that could be applied to the campus community to get people more connected to each other.”

Terry said that the appearance by Drum Cafe was the formal launch of this program on campus.

Drumming was an ancient bonding method that allowed people to feel like a part of something larger than one’s self, precisely the mission Community Renewal strived for.

While the Community Renewal program was not designed to combat any certain problem on campus, Terry said every community has something to gain from a program like this.

“[In] every community or group of people, in order for it to continue to survive, you have to be intentional about relationships and getting people to buy into that community,” Terry said.

McCarter said representatives from four other universities were in the audience at Drum Cafe, observing the ways Community Renewal could be adopted on a college campus. TCU is the first university in the nation to use Community Renewal, but McCarter said the concept would carry over to any kind of community.

McCarter said seeing the program at work at his alma mater was a proud moment.