Author Archives: Jocelyn Tenorio

Completing Middlebury’s Privilege & Poverty Program, by Taylor Banaszewski ‘17

This blog post is a reflection from Taylor Banaszewski ‘17 about her completion of the Privilege &Poverty academic cluster and how it has impacted her current work post-graduation from Middlebury.

          During my senior year, I sifted through dozens of jobs trying to find a career path that would tie all my interests and passions together. I knew I wanted to positively impact the lives of others and I always had a strong interest in financially stability. I never imagined myself working at a bank, but I found being a Relationship Manager at Bank of America to be the best fit.

          One of Bank of America’s goals is to positively impact the financial lives of its consumers and as a Relationship Manager, I am one of the first faces a client sees when walking into a financial center. I am the person a client would go to with any questions they might have regarding their finances. While being in this role for over a year now, I can see how completing the P&P academic cluster has helped me become a better relationship manager. During my summer internship through Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty at Foundation Communities, I was able to explore my interest in financial literacy by working at a nonprofit that provided financial coaching. I was able to see how having somebody help you through setting a budget and explain credit to you can make a real impact in the lives of a person who is struggling financially. It is so important for that person to have somebody supporting and helping them through the process. The P&P academic cluster allowed me to explore these interests further in the classroom and conduct my own research on consumer debt for my senior thesis.

          As a Relationship Manager, I frequently find myself in situations where I am educating clients in regards to credit, savings, and borrowing funds. I help clients use the budgeting tools Bank of America provides to help them set goals and I set follow up appointments with clients to check in on their progress. I am using my position at a bank to become a trusted advisor to my clients while also helping increase their knowledge on various topics.

          I still strongly believe that financial literacy is a big issue and we need to be doing more to educate everyone on the basics of budgeting, credit, loans, etc. We don’t traditionally think of banks as having the responsibility of being an educator, but I use my role within my organization to educate people whenever I have the opportunity. The knowledge and experience I gained through the P&P Academic Cluster has been essential in helping me positively impact the lives others through my career.

Taylor Banaszewski ’17 receiving her certificate of completion from James Calvin Davis, Academic Director of Privilege & Poverty

Volunteering at the Dandelion School (a NGO middle school that serves migrant children) in Beijing, China by Lulu Zhou ‘19

This blog post is a reflection from Lulu Zhou about her CCE Cross-Cultural Community Service Grant-funded project in China.

          The Dandelion School—one of the most successful, exceptional migrant schools with its strong educational resources and international connections—is a NGO middle school that specifically serves migrant children in southern Beijing’s urban-rural fringe. While studying in Beijing during the Fall 2017 semester, I volunteered at the Dandelion weekly to tutor a 9th grade English reading class to contribute to students’ improvements in English speaking, reading, and grammar. In addition, I translated for Dandelion educators and Finnish educators during a 3-day international education exchange seminar/training, in which Finnish educators shared Finnish education theories and practices with us.

          China’s rapid urbanization has led to large-scale migration from rural to urban areas, in which inequalities are expanding between rural and urban citizens. The deeply entrenched residential registration system (“hukou”) restricts one’s social benefits (e.g., public schools, healthcare, property rights, etc) to one’s birthplace, dividing citizenship into rural and urban. Thus many migrants and their children—who make up a large percentage of the urban population—are unable to enjoy many social welfares in their new homes.

          For example, migrant children face many institutional barriers that prevent them from attending public schools in cities.  Dealing with issues such as poverty, exclusion, and instability, migrant children are an underserved, underprivileged group that has little access to quality education and social mobility. Individuals founded “migrant schools” in migrant communities in response to the education needs of migrant children.  Many migrant schools operate in the grey area because they do not have governmental licensures, which are extremely difficult to obtain in the first place. Indeed, migrant schools have been increasingly facing more restrictions politically, legally, geographically, and socioeconomically especially in mega cities like Beijing.


“I gained experience in tutoring English to English-as-second-language middle school students and pretending that I couldn’t speak Chinese when I interacted with them in order to “force” them speak English with me.”

“I tried Chinese-English simultaneous translation for the first time when I was translating for the Dandelion educators and Finnish educators during an international education exchange.”


“Translation was challenging but rewarding and helped me improve my language skills.”


“I hope to raise more awareness through my sociology senior thesis on China’s migrant education issue.”


“Contributing to education resources of an underrepresented, underprivileged group and engaging in cross-cultural exchanges are tremendously rewarding. I would recommend everyone volunteering at migrant schools and NGOs; they need more resources serving an under-resourced population.”

          Studying sociology and education at Middlebury has reinforced my academic interests in education equity and access, migration, and family and instilled in me a stronger sense of social conscience and responsibility. My volunteering experience at migrant NGOs has not only shown me the educational and social inequalities in a different political, historical and social context, but also broadened my horizon about education generally and my own education specifically. Migrant children’s education is a huge social issue that impacts millions of families’ and their children’s life paths. This was a humbling and inspiring experience that motivated me to do my sociology senior thesis on this topic—I have returned to Beijing during summer 2018 to do my research, which focuses on alumni who graduated from migrant schools.