What is Friendship?
An Honors Thesis (HONRS 499) Creative Project
Dr. Nina Yssel
Ball State University
Spring Semester 2008
Friendship is universal. It can bridge societal gaps of gender, race, social class, and differences in abilities. College is a time of personal growth, and friendships have a tremendous impact on the development and experiences of an individual. Through Best Buddies, college students and adults in the community with disabilities have the opportunity to share friendships. These relationships bring people of all abilities, interests, and talents together, as equals and as friends. I chose to look at these friendships and to compare them to a typical friendship between people to define and show how friendship can bridge societal gaps to have a remarkable and lasting impact on the individuals involved.
I would like to thank Dr. Nina Yssel for being my advisor throughout the planning and development of this project. As our faculty advisor for the Best Buddies chapter on campus, I thought it only fitting to have her help me with this thesis. Her insight and support has been extremely beneficial and encouraging to me during this entire process.
I would also like to thank the members of the Ball State Best Buddies chapter for their willingness to let me use our many shared experiences for this project, and for offering their input, ideas, pictures, and comments to me so enthusiastically. To the officers especially, I want to share my undying gratitude and appreciation for their dedication to making Best Buddies such a wonderful group to be a part of. Their support in every aspect of this project has been amazing and I have to credit all the wonderful officers, students, and buddies for inspiring me to do this project.
Thanks also go out to all of the individuals involved in LDM Handycamp (Lutheran Disabilities Ministries) and Camp Lakeview who have inspired me through their friendship and love over the years.
Friendship is something needed by everyone in some capacity. People are made to be relational and in community with each other. This fact does not change for people who happen to have different physical, mental, or emotional characteristics or variations from what is considered "normal" in our society. Throughout my time at Ball State, I have been working with the goal in mind that I want to work with people who have disabilities. I declared a Special Education major and have spent the past several summers volunteering and working at camps for people with disabilities of all ages. The impact people who are considered to be "disabled" have had on my life is inexplicable and priceless- having shown me that perhaps they are not the ones with disabilities; but rather it is those of us considered to be in the "normal" category who often forget the small things in life that go unappreciated, but can bring such profound joy. Friendships create an opportunity for us to connect with people who are different than us in various ways and, in the particular case of Best Buddies, allow college students like myself the opportunity to see life in a different way and celebrate diversity and companionship. With the upcoming completion of my college career, I am faced with the decision of what I want to do with the rest of my life. The many experiences I have had make it clear to me that providing an environment conducive to creating and sustaining meaningful friendships across abilities and talents will be at the center of my focus. Best Buddies is an organization that pairs students with peers and people from the community who have intellectual disabilities. A few friends of mine and I have worked very hard to get our Ball State chapter started, growing, and successfully running over the past three years. Through this project, I wanted to produce something that can show...
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