Author Archives: Lydia Gordon

CCI Career Conversation with Wayne Meisel (2/24)

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What: “How to be an Activist: Finding the Link Between Service, Faith, and Self,” a talk with Wayne Meisel, national leader in civic engagement initiatives and currently director of the Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

*lunch will be provided 

When: Tuesday, February. 24, 2015: 12:15-1:30 PM

Where: Adirondack House, Library

Hannah on MAlt

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     When I first applied for the 2013 MAlt trip to New York City, titled “Examining a Broken Justice System,” I didn’t really know what I was applying for. I thought it would be something different, something far more meaningful than my usual Feb break pastime of sitting on the couch at home (not that that would be hard to beat on the “meaningful” scale). The topic really stuck out to me, too. I’d lived my whole life just miles from the oldest running prison in the state of Massachusetts, yet I would drive past it twice a day without a second thought, my only knowledge of what stood behind the concrete walls and glass-enclosed watch towers stemming from one curious Google Maps exploration.
 
     Turns out, I wasn’t wrong about the trip – our activities and discussions were eye opening, thought provoking, and educational. However, the most long-lasting memories from that week came not from the planned component but rather from the interactions and conversations we had as a group. In all honesty, I cannot imagine any other time when this unlikely group of people would have interacted, especially on campus at Middlebury. We hadn’t before, and we haven’t since, really. It was hard, too – we faced many challenges at times, particularly in regards to group agreement on certain issues. For the most part, however, we also became incredibly close during that week – sharing hours of extremely personal and emotional details through “My Life” stories, laughing until our stomachs hurt (or someone peed…not naming names, though), getting in heated debates, and shoveling snow so that we could actually make it back to school after a surprise blizzard hit. Most things didn’t really go as planned during the week, and in many ways it was a disaster – but on other levels, that brought us even closer together.  While we’re not all suddenly best friends, and most of us don’t interact besides the passing “hey,” that week will always remain an often-unacknowledged but ever-present connection that we both share.
-Hannah Reeve ’15
 
Learn more about MAlt here!

Cook dinner for the Charter House!

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Are you looking for a fun new activity to do with your friends? Why not try something that isn’t only fun, but also a great way to give back to your community? Cooking dinner for guests staying in the warming shelter at the Charter House is a wonderful way to spend time with friends while also benefitting others. Although you are welcome to simply cook the meal, you are encouraged to drop it off yourselves and enjoy dinner with the guests of the shelter. 

Go to go/charterhousedinner to sign up and for more information! 

Questions? Contact Lydia Gordon ’15 lgordon@middlebury.edu

Maggie and her Mini-Grant!

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On the 7th of October thanks to the Community Engagement Mini Grant I received I attended the World Bank 2014 Youth Summit in Washington D.C. The topic of the event was “Open and responsive governments”. Bringing together youth leaders from around the World, the summit created space for and facilitated conversation and skill-building to promote government openness and fight the lack of trust towards government institutions brought by corruption, bad management and inefficiencies. The event featured a number of keynote speakers among who were prominent world leaders and politicians. Additionally, there was a variety of workshops to choose from which offered space for discussion practical ideas how to improve the involvement of young people in government processes, transparency and accountability building.

Starting with the preparation for the event, I was allowed to grow professionally and exercise skills that will be of importance to my future career such as perfecting my resume, learning strategies about effective networking and choosing appropriate attire. Attending a World Bank event was surely a unique opportunity for a second year student, yet I learned that being genuine is the best policy. Giving my resume to a junior professional working in international development and confessing it was the first resume I have given to someone, got the person very touched and motivated to provide me with mentorship. I also met a lot of mind-like peers, UN staff and even several youth activists I had met at previous global summits I have attended such as the Global Youth Forum in Bali in 2012. Thus, the experience provided me with an opportunity to network outside of my typical college setting, as well as to learn more about the networking and internship seeking processes which I am now better prepared for.

Moreover, the event inspired me to transition from my interest in non-profit work towards more advanced policy and social movement building. The topic of government accountability made me realize that the ways to youth empowerment which I am strongly dedicated to are various. Because of this event, today I am richer with ideas about empowering youth that no longer are limited to informal education and volunteering. Realizing the growing in importance role of youth participation in society further inspire me to work with youth and for youth. Last but not least, because of attending the event and staying for the following IMF and WB annual meetings which gathered political and business leaders gave me a chance to get to know some of the biggest and most influential institutions from as close as it gets which gives me more perspective on the career options I have in front of me.

-Maggie Nazer ’17

Learn about mini-grants here!

Julia on Language in Motion

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My year abroad in Bordeaux, France, was one of the most profound experiences I’ve had in college. I learned something new every day, and I was able to challenge myself to put my Middlebury education to good use. However, upon returning to the US, I could see my friends’ eyes glaze over every time I’d go off on another tangent about “When I was in France”—and I’d feel badly about it.

As I was preparing to come back to Middlebury for my senior year, I wondered how I might be able to share my experiences further, since I constantly thought about them. Thankfully, I heard about Language in Motion (LiM), one of Community Engagement’s newest initiatives. Founded by Juniata College in 2000, Language in Motion trains college students to present to local schools about their cross-cultural experiences.

I was excited to hear that LiM was coming to Midd this year because so many of us here have had international experience or study at least one language. The program seemed the perfect way to tap into our resources in order to support world language classrooms in Addison County. And, of course, it would be a great way for students like me—someone with international experience and/or high language skills—to give back in a meaningful way.

Working as one of two Program Outreach and Support Assistants for LiM this academic year has been another highlight of my college experience, only second to going abroad. I’ve been able to use my creativity and organizational skills to help jumpstart a new program on campus. Doubling as a presenter, I’ve gotten to reflect on the most memorable parts of being abroad with others who have similar experiences. Additionally, I’ve had the chance to practice my presentation skills (how to move beyond just giving a PowerPoint), and I’ve met some great kids and teachers by coming in to present in their classrooms.

Finally, I’ve gotten to work with Community Engagement, which, even as a senior, I knew little about. Coming into the office (just behind the library), I walk up the stairs and greet our wonderful adult and student staff. Everyone here is passionate about making a difference; it’s inspiring! It just goes to show you that it’s never too late to be involved and that you can leave your impact and meet new people even as an upperclassman.

-Julia Angeles ’15

Learn  more about Language in Motion here!

Bree’s Four Universal Lessons and Virtues

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The following is an excerpt from Bree Baccaglini 15.5’s keynote speech during International Education Day 2014, when 120 Mt. Abe Global Studies students came to Middlebury to attend workshops focusing on global citizenship. Baccaglini was a part of Language in Motion’s inaugural cohort of presenters last fall.

I’m a senior here at Middlebury College, and I study Political Science and Arabic. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with all of you on the topic at hand, as I believe deeply that international education can both shape your lives and impact our world. What I want to do today is to give you a snapshot of my most important international learning experience, and then to share with you what that experience has taught me about the virtues of study and growth abroad.

My own story. Inspired by curiosity, I began studying Arabic my sophomore year, and found myself falling rapidly down the glorious rabbit hole of foreign language study. Perhaps you’re familiar. My study took me to Mills College in California for a Middlebury summer immersion course, and then to Amman, Jordan (a country in the Middle East), where I spent last fall living with a host family and studying with my peers at the local university. Though there were sad days and mad days and frustrated days, I grew to love Jordan, I grew to love Jordanians, and I grew to love Arabic – obsessively, even. This love led me to withdraw from Middlebury in the Spring, and stay in Amman – I didn’t feel that my abroad experience was yet complete. So, I moved into an apartment, and began volunteering with an international non governmental organization called Save the Children at a school in mkaym alza3tari – a refugee camp for Syrians in northern Jordan. Here, I met girls and boys who witnessed the painful and violent unraveling of their country, Syria, but who still showed up to school smiling and hugging their friends close. I learned a lot everywhere I went in Jordan, but perhaps nowhere more than here.

[…] Though, as I’ve suggested, international experience can take an infinity of forms, I believe there are a few universal lessons and virtues. In fact, I’ve identified four of them, and would like to share them with you.

1. When living and learning internationally, you realize there is more than one way to live. Growing up in the United States, it’s easy for us to think that people everywhere have the same priorities, values, and perspectives as us. We become so comfortable in our world view. A routine, however, cannot be mistaken for a singular truth. […] Our impulse, faced with differences […] is to judge – is to decide which is “better.” This is folly. So long as these differences do not undermine human rights and liberties, there is no hierarchy. Life is diverse in its forms – appreciate it.

2. Studying and living abroad affords you the ability to reject stereotypes and recognize the humanity of others – particularly if you are living among misrepresented or marginalized people. It also gives others the opportunity to reevaluate their assumptions about you as an American by appointing you as an informal cultural ambassador – believe me, this happens – so use your power well. […] Once we replace inaccurate and injurious assumptions with observations from lived experience, we permit a human depth to form that enriches our understanding of the host culture. In these moments, meaningful intercultural linkages are made because shared humanity is acknowledged.

3. International study, in my opinion, should encourage humility and gratitude. When we go abroad, we cannot make our journey about ourselves. We must make our journey about understanding our small, modest place in the world. Abroad, in a foreign language, we are always learning, and learning is perhaps one of the most humbling human processes in which we have the privilege to participate. Furthermore, while abroad, we should begin understanding how we can better serve this world – in the face of civil wars, famines, violent government crackdowns, terrorism – there is no shortage of tasks. In fact, there is no rest for the weary.

4. International study, as much as it is an academic experience, should begin to inspire action towards improving our world. It is not just about identifying the words ills, it is about getting your hands dirty tackling them.

[…] That said, my opinions on international education by no means represent the gold standard. The list I shared with you is not comprehensive – it is cursory. Ask your friends, teachers, and role models what they have to say. Better yet, get out there and find your own answers.