Author Archives: Lydia Gordon

Ashley on MiddView

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“After the MiddView trips, community partners and community members say how glad they are that Middlebury College students choose to engage, help meet community based needs, and take the time to listen to their stories. I think that these community engagement trips provide a great opportunity for first years to interact with local community members.”

-Ashley Laux, Associate Director of Community Engagement

Livi on her Shepherd Internship

2014 Fall Family Weekend Saturday 10/25/2014

Before my summer as a Shepherd Intern, I knew almost nothing about refugees. I didn’t know there are currently 10.4 million people seeking what is called in state department jargon “third-country resettlement.” This number grows daily as conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East, go unresolved. An initial shock for me was to learn that less than one percent of these refugees reach third country resettlement, and those who do often have been living in squalid camps for ten to twenty years, having fled their homes due to political, social, or religious persecution. I recall picking up from the airport an 87 year-old Somali woman named Udbi who, according to her family had “a bum leg,” only to learn at a doctor’s visit a few days post-arrival that her right hip had been out of its socket for at least fifteen years. The family had been living in a camp in Ethiopia. 

My involvement with Community Engagement enabled me to go through this deep and invaluable learning process over the summer. I’m so grateful that Community Engagement allowed me, as a student immersed in the world of academia, to apply my interests to a practical matter, and to learn about individuals like Ubdi, and the pervasive problem of poverty in the United States. ​

 

-Livi Raggio ‘15.5

To learn more about Shepherd Poverty Internships go here or Contact Tiffany Sargent at tiffanys@middlebury.edu!

Learn about Americorps

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What: Join AmeriCorps members as they reflect on their experiences and share service opportunities for you to consider! AmeriCorps is a national service organization that employs some of today’s best and brightest individuals to serve in communities around the country.

When: Monday, March 9th, 2015: 12:15-1:15 PM *lunch will be provided

Where: CCI Library (Adirondack House)

For more information, contact Quanteshia Tennyson ’14 at qtennyson@middlebury.edu.

Student profile: Gabby Santos

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Name: Gabbie Santos
Year at Middlebury: Sophomore 
Hometown/location: Silang, Cavite, Philippines
 
Describe your volunteer service commitments that occur in the Middlebury area: I am currently the weekend build coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Middlebury College Chapter. As co-president of the International Students’ Organization, I also help ensure that community service is part of our organization’s agenda/programming. 
 
Length of time you have been volunteering there: I started with Habitat in September 2013, during my MiddView (Middlebury Orientation Week) trip, as a volunteer builder. My role as build coordinator began in September 2014.  
 
Describe your responsibilities: My main responsibility is to coordinate with Habitat for Humanity chapters near/around Middlebury for volunteer opportunities, and then to organize weekend builds for Middlebury students as an opportunity to work with the local community.
 
What do you most enjoy about volunteering?: For me, genuinely sharing myself through volunteering allows me to find a profound connection with humankind. It is this discovery that gives me hope in a world that is constantly inundated with negativity. Volunteering is, indeed, nourishment for the soul.

Addison County Shepherd Internships (apps due 3/1)

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There are 5 amazing paid Addison County Shepherd Internships for this summer!

  • Charter House CoalitionCoordinate the Farm-to-Tabland Community Meals programs, integrating community garden fresh produce into to meal programs, food shelves, and low-income neighborhoods (free room, most meals)
  • Boys and Girls Club of VergennesWork with low-income youth in trailer parks on meal programs, summer learning, drug/alcohol prevention, & arts/life skills activities, and research Addison County poverty via interviews
  • John Graham Homeless ShelterHelp to provide shelter and hope to Addison County’s homeless population and help launch community mentor system
  • Open Door ClinicSupport healthcare, public health, and access and provision of services to special populations, including Vermont migrant farm workers via Spanish fluency
  • WomenSafeProvide crisis intervention, info, and support to abused women and children via 24-hour hotline, especially low-income persons in need of emergency/transitional housing.

Students apply through MOJO; the application deadline is at 11:59 p.m. on Sun., Mar. 1, 2015. Search words include “poverty” and “Addison County.” Community Engagement is listed as the employer, though this individual sites will do their own selecting.

International students are encouraged to apply as Middlebury College pays their stipend. All returning undergraduate students may apply.

Questions? Contact Tiffany Sargent at tiffanys@middlebury.edu

Lizzy and her CCCS Grant

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This January Term I was fortunate to serve as an intern for With the Winds, an environmental conservation expedition, research project, and documentary in the making. With the Winds was founded by Henry Bell ’14 and Grant Bemis (Eckerd ’14). Their ambitions for With the Winds began their senior year of college. When deluged by questions about their post graduation plans, Henry and Grant decided to stop dreaming about making a difference in the world and take concrete action to achieve their dream. They created a Kickstater campaign to raise money for their four-month expedition and ended up surpassing their goal of $18,500 by more than $5,000.

Their work is deeply based in environmental conservation. They had numerous professional backers supporting their undertaking including SEA Semester, Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, The National Marine Fisheries Service’s Apex Predators Program, and the Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup. I assisted Henry and Grant in three areas, beach cleanups, collecting water samples, and the shark catch and release program during my duration of the trip.

As a non-science major, initially I was overwhelmed at the amount of quantitative data collection I would be partaking in. Henry and Grant were patient teachers, and made sure that I was doing more than just accruing data that I didn’t understand. Upon arrival to St. Thomas, I helped take a water sample. They explained how micro-plastics (like the tiny beads in your soap or toothpaste) end up in the ocean and travel up the food chain, negatively impacting all levels of organisms in the eco-system. The water samples were collected at various places throughout my trip, and will continue to be collected throughout the rest of their expedition.

The first beach cleanup I participated in was in St. Marteen at Maho Bay Beach. The beach is famous for being located right next to the island’s airport. Tourists are attracted to the adrenaline rush of planes approaching the runway and blowing sun hats, sand, and chairs everywhere. It was almost as fun watching the tourists as it was watching the planes. The boys measured out a manageable distance for us to clean, and we spent the afternoon collecting trash of all shapes and sizes. We then sorted the trash into categories, as what trash ends up where is strongly affected by currents. I learned that some beaches get more right foot flip-flops, where as others accumulate the left foot, all due to currents. We did a series of beach cleanups and some of the more interesting things I found included a cellphone, a computer desktop, a full ironing board, a rug, and a map of France from 1978!

I really enjoyed the shark fishing. We tried to catch sharks during the entire trip, but met with no success. We trolled, or left fishing lines off of the stern of the boat while we were sailing in hopes that we might catch something. We would sit patiently anticipating the click-click-click of the rod, only to get our bait stolen, or to catch some seaweed. Shark fishing definitely tested my patience. Our last night on the boat was my 22nd birthday, and I joked for the entire month that all I wanted for my birthday was a shark. That night we caught close to 5 small sharks. All were too small to actually tag (they must be at least three feet in length), but the experience was definitely exciting. Hopefully Grant and Henry will have more luck with that aspect of the project!

With another Middlebury student, Kerry Daigle ‘15, I worked on a project collecting oral histories from people on the islands. I hoped to better understand the relationship people had with their environment. At first it was difficult to approach a complete stranger and make the meaningful connection necessary to discover people’s (sometimes very personal!) stories. I found that there is definitely an art to starting and holding conversation with someone you don’t know. At school and in our day-to-day lives, it is easy to mask discomfort with an iPhone and allow the screen to disseminate any feelings of awkwardness. Pushing outside of my comfort zones meant being persistent through the unease, and I was definitely rewarded. I heard stories of shipwrecks, adopted dogs, love, unfortunate jobs, and boat troubles. I laughed over croissants and smoothies at not being able to understand thick Turkish accents. I kept watch with a security guard on duty. I sang karaoke in a local dive bar. I ate “the best Chinese in the Caribbean”. With their consent, I took portraits of my new acquaintances, which were an attempt to capture their personality and the stories they were telling. Kerry and I look forward to compiling our work to create a final product for With the Winds.

Some of my goals following my J-term include writing an article summing up my experience, with the goal of being published in MiddMagazine, MiddGeographic or one of the various sailing magazines I found on my trip. With my article I hope to inspire other students and recent graduates not to be afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zones, and not to let practicalities hinder progress. Middlebury has many resources available to students, from grants to advising, and I wish I had taken advantage of them earlier in my Middlebury career.

I am incredibly thankful to the CCS for the grant. As a two-season athlete who worked every summer, I was unable to study abroad. This J-term I finally got to have my own mini study-abroad experience. My comfort zone has been extended in ways I couldn’t have imagined before the trip. Being around Henry and Grant was inspiring. Their passion and dedication proved to me that it is possible to dream big and make things happen. I learned a lot about myself, especially on the days where we spent 12+ hours sailing offshore; on those days I had no choice but to engage in some serious self-reflection. While I definitely wish I could have stayed longer (who wouldn’t want to stay in paradise!?), I am excited to take what I have learned on my travels forward with me.

Thanks to the Middlebury CCS Grant I was able to partake in the adventure of a lifetime. Sailing with With the Winds provided experiential learning opportunity taught me invaluable life lessons that I would not have gained in the classroom setting.

-Lizzy Reid ’15

Learn more about CCS Grants here!  

Kerry and what she did with her CCCS grant!

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Hi Everybody!

With the help of a grant from Community Engagement at Middlebury, I spent J-term on board a 37-foot sailboat in the Caribbean, traveling and conducting environmental research. The expedition was founded by Henry Bell (Middlebury ’14) and his childhood friend, Grant Bemis (Eckerd ’14). I, along with fellow Middlebury student Lizzy Reed, joined Henry and Grant for four weeks out of their four-month voyage. On board we helped them carry out three separate environmental projects: taking water samples to track microplastics for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, beach cleanups as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, and shark catch and release as part of NOAA’s Cooperative Shark Tagging Program.

 

Through this incredible experience, I developed an appreciation for how much work goes into a conservation project like this. I learned that tagging a shark doesn’t just mean going out and getting one your first try, but spending night after night with rods in the water, patiently waiting to find a shark big enough to tag. Additionally, I saw firsthand just how much trash is overtaking the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, and understand the enormity of the problem. The majority of trash in the area has drifted ashore from countries to the east. Because it originated from external areas, there is no local organization in place to pick it up. Nicer beaches on the islands that are maintained by staff have relatively clear sandy areas, but if you step back into the woody areas you will find it too is covered in trash. Even worse, is that when trash is removed more will drift ashore in the coming days to replace it. Efforts to alleviate this problem must be massive, and our beach cleanup surveys contributed to a valuable initiate to gain insight into what types of trash end up where.

 

In addition to experiencing an eye opening exposure to the need for conservation and the invaluable lessons you learn through life confined to a sailboat, this trip taught me the importance of following through on your dreams. Henry and Grant worked endlessly for the year leading up to the expedition to get their plans arranged, and personally watching their trip fall into place was a huge inspiration. I’ve learned to be honest about the problems I want to tackle in the world, and ambitious in the way I go about contributing to a solution.

 -Kerry Daigle ’15

If you would like to learn more about With the Winds, I encourage you to check out our website (withthewinds.com), instagram (@with_the_winds), facebook page, and twitter (@with_the_winds).

You can also learn more about CCCS grants here!