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In Their Own Words: Marcella Houghton ’12.5

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Marcella Houghton ’12.5 interned with the State College Area Food Bank in State College, PA.

What did you do?

Twice a week I assisted Bill Zimmer, the home gardener growing crops for the State College Food Bank, and worked at the Food Bank on alternating days. In addition to harvesting and maintaining the crops he was already growing, I assumed responsibility for planting and harvesting a bed of green beans. When the State College community garden got in touch with Bill with an interest in donating to the SCFB, I contacted and met with the garden intern to set up a system for community gardeners to donate their extra harvest. By the middle of the summer the garden had a cooler set up behind a shade cloth, where gardeners could donate and where I would pick up donations weekly.

At the food bank, I served as an all-purpose volunteer. Every distribution day I joined the morning crew with set-up, shelving, and receiving and sorting donations. I joined the new set of volunteers that came in on afternoons, and helped distribute food to clients. I drove the food bank van on errands and on donation pick-up runs. I also set up a recycling system for torn, dirty, or otherwise un-re-usable plastic bags. After broaching the idea with volunteers and the directors, I found and labeled a bin for the bags. Curbside recycling doesn’t include plastic bags in State College, but since the food bank regularly visits grocery stores, whoever’s driving the van can deliver the bags to the recycling receptacles outside of each store.

What did you learn?

Working at the food bank corrected some assumptions I had unknowingly harbored. I’d previously thought food banks relied almost exclusively on individual donations or food drives. But the SCFB receives the bulk of its items from federal and state programs, the South Central Food Bank in a nearby city, tax-deductible donations from grocery stores, and purchases of new groceries on the food bank budget. I was surprised to learn that clients of the SCFB are eligible for groceries only 8 times per year. No chance of surviving off Food Bank groceries alone, contrary to my previous notions.

What are your plans for the future?

My perception of food assistance programs shifted after this experience, hopefully giving me a better sense for how they operate. Working for the food bank widened my eyes to the complexity of social service programs like the SCFB. I also observed among volunteers and people I spoke with a concern that clients might be able to “cheat the system” and get more food than allotted. I’m inclined to think of this anxiety as a misunderstanding; however, whether people “cheat” often or not I believe that programs should strive to treat clients with compassion rather than suspicion, and I realized just how important it is to cultivate that attitude among volunteers in a program like this one.

This summer I discovered an interest in managing volunteers, when I realized I was often in the position of delegating tasks to new recruits. Volunteering every other day gave me a crash course in many of the daily tasks, and it was rewarding to connect a task-less volunteer with a task and attempt to streamline the day’s to-do list. I found it refreshing to interact with many small teams on a regular schedule (the Monday morning crew, the Monday afternoon crew, etc.) and get to know the rhythms of each group of core volunteers. I could see myself in the position of a volunteer organizer in a similar program.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

Interested in sustainability and education?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

There’s a winter term internship for that.

The Teton Science Schools are offering two internship opportunities to work with sustainability and education in Kelly, Wyoming over J-Term. Yes, really.

As an intern, you will have the chance to work on the school’s sustainability audit (STARS) and the development of a Sustainability Report, describing the outcomes of the audit and the school’s efforts towards sustainability. As part of this program, you will have the option to take a Winter Ecology Course (3-9 days) and work on the development of sustainability curriculum within the Field Education Program, including exploring pedagogy and field teaching, depending on your interests.

Interested? Of course you are. Head to MOJO today to apply!

Guess what those snow flurries mean…

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

That it was less than 32 degrees out this morning.

But more importantly, it’s a signal that J-Term is just around the corner!

Still not sure of your J-Term plans? What about an internship?

There are still some awesome opportunities in MOJO. As the snow falls in January, you could be:

  • putting your Spanish skills to use as an Advocacy Intern for the Vermont Immigration Project
  • participating in development and strategic planning for the Fit Kids Foundation
  • engaging with the local community at the Charter House Emergency Shelter
  • working in a classroom at the Peck School
  • or researching rural education in China for the REAP project.

For more information and to apply, visit MOJO today!

Guess what those snow flurries mean…

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

That it was less than 32 degrees out this morning.

But more importantly, it’s a signal that J-Term is just around the corner!

Still not sure of your J-Term plans? What about an internship?

There are still some awesome opportunities in MOJO. As the snow falls in January, you could be:

  • putting your Spanish skills to use as an Advocacy Intern for the Vermont Immigration Project
  • participating in development and strategic planning for the Fit Kids Foundation
  • engaging with the local community at the Charter House Emergency Shelter
  • working in a classroom at the Peck School
  • or researching rural education in China for the REAP project.

For more information and to apply, visit MOJO today!

In Their Own Words: Alice Oshima ’15

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Alice Oshima ‘15 interned with the Harlem Community Justice Center in New York City.

What did you do?

This summer, I interned with the Harlem Community Justice Center, which is part of the umbrella organization the Center for Court Innovation. Inside the Harlem Community Justice Center, there is a housing court, a family court, a re-entry court, and a youth court. The housing, family, and re-entry courts operate as legitimate New York State courts, but with a specific focus on restorative justice. The youth court on the other hand, which is the program I was working with, works outside the court system and relies of referrals from precincts, the law department, and schools. For my internship, I worked with my supervisor and two other interns to facilitators the trainings of the youth court members. I lead ice-breakers or warm-ups before most sessions—one of the most popular of which was the Enneagram personality test. I facilitated the introductory training, as well as trainings on appropriate sanctions, perceptions and assumptions, and jury deliberation. These lessons were based on the youth court training curriculum created by the Center for Court Innovation, but I was encouraged to make any changes or additions I saw fit. In addition to these curriculum-based trainings, I helped facilitate a session on feminism and gender roles created by a fellow intern. I also began developing curriculum for workshops on mental health and teenagers, and race and the criminal justice system, but was unable to finish and facilitate them due to time. I researched and compiled a list of suggest videos for the training sessions or for the coming year—this list included TED talks, spoken word poems, and documentary clips.

What did you learn?

Before this internship, I had very little knowledge regarding the logistics of our criminal justice system, as well as the flaws with this system. From leading training sessions, and watching my supervisor and fellow interns lead sessions, I learned a great deal about how the court system works and the possibilities offered by restorative justice, but also about some of the shortcomings of the current restorative justice projects available. The internship also gave me experience modifying curriculum, teaching lessons, and in general, working with young people. These experience was very educational, as well as fun! But it was also my first time doing any of these things, and so with time, I think I would have gotten better at making the lesson plans even more dynamic and fully engaging all of the youth. Although I feel I made progress, as a teacher, there is still a lot a lot of work for me to be done.

What are your plans for the future?

In terms of my future plans, I do not plan to specifically focus on restorative justice as a career, but I plan to be involved in social activism for my lifetime and engage with the mass incarceration of predominantly black and Latino men in this country, and the major flaws in our criminal justice system in general, are issues that I hope to continue to be work with in the future. I also am highly considering either being a New York City public high school teacher, or working with high-school aged youth in some other capacity, and so the experience I gained working with that age group will definitely be valuable.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

In Their Own Words: Mia Benjamin ’13

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Mia Benjamin ’13 interned with Pathways for Mutual Respect and the International Institute of Connecticut in Singapore, Malaysia and Connecticut.         

What did you do?

I worked to promote Pathways for Mutual Respect’s interfaith dialogue initiative in Singapore and Malaysia and assisted in a Yale Fellow’s dissertation research on sociology of religion. The other intern and I also put together and facilitated a Life Story Group which brought together Muslims and Christians to share their personal experiences with the goal of breaking down stereotypes and boundaries. For IIConn, I translated Arabic legal documents and served as a personal interpreter and American language and culture tutor to an Iraqi refugee family. While the main purpose of my internship was still to translate legal documents, I did a lot of other tasks for the Institute’s refugee department. I translated about one or two legal documents a week, including divorce certificate, marital contracts, passports, criminal records, and academic transcripts from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. My other primary duty was providing support for a family of Iraqi refugees. In addition to tutoring the wife and children on English and American culture, I served as the personal interpreter for the wife on her doctor and dentist visits.

What did you learn?

From my trip to Southeast Asia, I learned first-hand about the complex religious, ethnic and political tensions in Malaysia and Singapore. I was also exposed to international leadership roles. I gained experience in maintaining careful control over the public image and identity of an organization and the subtleties of inter-business relationships. In the other parts of the internship I learned how to facilitate interfaith discussion groups and manage controversial topics. I also gained experience doing literature reviews of certain topics. The most benefit I gained was learning a great deal about interfaith work, Islam, and running a small non-profit.

What are your plans for the future?

This internship really helped me explore what an academic career that is heavily involved in activism might be like. It increased my desire to work internationally with Muslims and well as pursue graduate studies in the field, because I saw how important international experience and graduate degrees could be having a very real influence on policies and leadership. This helped encourage my belief in the necessity of interfaith dialogue initiatives, especially ones that carefully take into account the complexity of religious and social tensions in the region. One way that I would like to continue this would be to combine community service and interfaith endeavors on the Middlebury campus. For instance, I hope to organize a Habitat for Humanity build day with leaders from the different religious groups on campus.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.

Love languages? Linguistics? Teaching? A J-Term internship for you…

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Still not sure about your J-Term plans?

Interested in languages, linguistics or teaching? Speak Spanish, Chinese, Amharic, Hindi or Punjabi? Apply to be an English Language Learner (ELL) Program Assistant for J-Term! The Addison Central Supervisory Union is looking for interns to assist ELL teachers in development materials and resources in multiple languages for programs and parents. Interns would work about six hours a week during J-Term, primarily on the administrative end of the programs. Interns would create and translate newsletter templates, questionnaires and other forms.

Ready to get started? Head to MOJO and apply today!