How do I make connections?
That question was one of the first questions I had upon first entering USD. I had already heard tour guides, pamphlets, websites, and my own parents tell of the strong academic integrity and the high diversity that was to be found at USD. The school is strong rooted in academic tradition, but also allows its students to branch out and explore their passions and ideals, thus bringing along the sort of change that all strive for. In many ways, USD truly lives up to its name as a Changemaker school, but when a student first comes onto campus, as I did, they only know the beginning and the end: a student arrives at USD and, over their years here, they thrive and become successful. They become a Changemaker, someone who seeks to impact the world in a positive way and make it a better place. But what happens in the middle? Where do I begin to make the connections I need in order to thrive at USD?
The answer comes in the form of the Alcalá Bazaar, a gathering and celebration held twice a year where numerous student organizations on campus come together to make connections, gain members, and show every student what it truly means to be a Torero. Through the Alcalá Bazaar, a student can not only learn about and search for organizations that can help benefit their goals, but also discover new friends and forge strong connections that will surely last for years to come. Every single student organization, from the Residential Life Association to the Quidditch Club sets up a booth at the Alcalá Bazaar, attracting students far and wide to create a truly beautiful campus community.
As of today, I have visited two Alcalá Bazaars: one in the fall of my freshman year, and one just today (February 3rd), in the spring of that same year. Judging from my two experiences, I have never before attended an event so vibrant and lively. There are games, club representatives to tell you about each respective clubs’ activities and goals, as well as sign-up sheets flying left and right as eager students scribble down their names. Some clubs have even brought treats to the mix, allowing a student to have something to snack on while they listen to all of the wonderful things the club has already done, and the many more things they hope to do in the future.
One memory in particular stands out to me: I had been wondering what exactly USD meant when the school claimed to be a Changemaker school. I did not think much of it before I arrived at the Changemakers booth at the Alcalá Bazaar. Although I initially intended to stop by briefly and then walk away, the description of the club’s activities and goals spoken to me by the person tending the booth made me stop and listen. And I have absolutely no regrets doing so. As of now, I am a part of that proud organization and am already hoping to implement a plan that would help tutor underprivileged children. I have made many friends, many connections, through the Changemakers Hub as well as all of the other clubs I have joined, and I am very proud indeed to call myself a Torero.
But perhaps the most beautiful thing about the Alcalá Bazaar is how absolutely alive it feels. For those brief couple of hours between classes, Torero Way or the UC forum springs to life, with banners flying and music playing as just about every student attending USD ventures out to make connections and pick up free goodies along the way. Yes, there is plenty of connection making and club discovering – that, after all, is one of the main points of hosting the Alcalá Bazaar. But there is something beyond that: the Alcalá Bazaar is also a celebration of life, of diversity, and of connections. It is USD’s way to show its students, to show the world, that it is a school both founded on academic achievement, as well as widespread friendship. It is the students’ way to show everyone they know what it truly means to be proud of their home.
Many Alcalá Bazaars have come and gone, and many more are sure to follow. In the end, regardless of the reason why you venture onto Torero Way or into the UC Forum on those special days in the Spring and Fall semesters, you are guaranteed to make a connection, and to discover for yourself what it means to be a Torero.