Op-Ed: “Celebrate Together” Surpassed Expectations

Event symbolized progress, unity, and commitment from Georgia Southern

Celebrate Together took over much of the Armstrong Campus on Thursday, Oct. 21, and students were treated to a massive number of booths representing a variety of organizations within Georgia Southern and the Savannah community.

With the seemingly endless pandemic dragging on through 2021, and after many false-alarms that might have signified an end to COVID-19, an event like this was not only welcome, it was crucial.
Dr. Kyle Marrero has been candid in the past about how keeping morale high is vital to creating a climate of positivity throughout Georgia Southern’s campuses.

“It’s challenging for everybody, so I’m incredibly sympathetic for that and how hard it is. Particularly, our faculty and staff and students have all had to adapt and adjust,” said Dr. Marrero in an interview from Oct. 11, 2021.

From my perspective, this sympathy was on full display at Celebrate Together. The event was fun, it was big and so many different people participated.

Observing the event from my relatively low-traffic area at the Office of Student Media’s booth, I interacted with more students, from a wide variety of backgrounds, than I have at any single Armstrong event since Fall of 2020. I had the opportunity to put many names to faces that I had seen around campus, students, faculty and staff alike.

Sure, the weather was great, students were happy to be outside anyway, but the event itself was a spectacle filled with positive interactions between all members of the Armstrong campus. In fact, the campus felt like a cohesive unit. Like a community.

There was a lot of time invested into making this event happen. Attentive members of the Armstrong community may have noticed organizers and other workers setting up throughout the week prior to the event, not just on the day of.

Students and faculty from the Campus Recreation and Intramurals department spent real hours, on a Thursday, in the heat, setting up dozens of tents.

So many different departments, not just from Armstrong, came together to make sure that this event would be as successful as possible, and it was. In the age of social division, the organizers of this event created something that was greater than the sum of its parts.

I wrote earlier this month about how President Marrero views Armstrong’s identity, and how it relates to the bigger picture of Georgia Southern post-consolidation. He mentioned that effectively communicating the value that Georgia Southern adds to the Armstrong community is important, but he also emphasized the importance of highlighting what makes the Armstrong campus unique, pointing to its classic liberal arts college feel, supported by a tight-knit culture on campus.

This event accomplished both of those goals in a variety of ways, and also served as a symbol of the progress that we have made as a school and as a campus since the pandemic began.

From the same interview as before: “In spite of it all, we are able to get through this time, to continue delivering education, to continue to move forward… You know, every day you’re faced with new challenges and what’s in front of you, but I want everyone to remember why we’re here.”

In spite of it all, we are able to get through this time, to continue delivering education, to continue to move forward… You know, every day you’re faced with new challenges and what’s in front of you, but I want everyone to remember why we’re here.”

— President Kyle Marrero

Consider me reminded.

One of the primary reasons I came to Armstrong was because I was tired of school being fed to me virtually. I wanted to feel like a college student again.

During “Celebrate Together,” I did.

One final aspect of Celebrate must be mentioned:
Dr. Marrero, President of our University, whose office was an hour away from Savannah, who already had a packed schedule (trust me on that one) and who had a campus with more than 20,000 students waiting for him in Statesboro, went in the dunk tank. And he got dunked. And he still found the time to briefly converse at our media group’s table, smiling as he often does.

My suggestion for the event moving forward? Keep doing it, as often as possible and as big as possible. Consider it as a community investment, one that will pay off soon, often and for a long time.

For more content regarding Georgia Southern’s “Celebrate Armstrong” Event, check out Inkwell Archives at www.thegeorgeanne.com for our photo story, quotes from the event and more.