Author Archives: William DiGravio

Faculty Partner Profile: Shawna Shapiro

 

In the course of work done here at the CCE, students and staff members oftern partner with members of the greater Middlebury community and beyond. Below is an interview with one of one of our partners, Shawna Shapiro, associate professor of Writing & Rhetoric and the director of the college’s Writing and Rhetoric Program.

Which CCE student organizations/programs do you partner with in your work? What kind of work do you do together?

I’m the faculty sponsor for MiddROC, and have helped the group make connections to schools and other organizations in Chittenden County. I also talk through issues that come up in their work and advise on ways they can bring back to the campus in terms of knowledge and community-building. I’ve also done trainings with Juntos on English language pedagogy and other issues related to their work with migrant farmworkers. (I’ve also received AOE grants connected to my Intro to TESOL course- not sure if you want me to talk about that in this interview. Let me know, as that’s been where the community connections are a bit more involved). 

How have community connections impacted your teaching and research?

Community connections offer a number of benefits: First, they help students complicate their understanding of “community.” When students say “Vermont is all white,” I can say “Actually, it’s not—you might want to check out these organizations that serve minority populations.” It also helps students see that the issues we talk about in class (e.g., language prejudice, English language policies in schools, etc.) have real-world consequences not just “out there” (in other places) but right here. Having community connections as case studies also helps students understand the messiness of organizational/societal change: Sometimes complicate political dynamics within an organization, or differing narratives about goals and histories, can be a barrier to movement. In those cases, our goal has to be to understand what’s happening, even if we can’t do much about it.  For example, I’m currently working with teachers at Burlington High School to map out some curricular changes, but in our conversations, they’re starting to share more about all of the ways they’ve felt unheard and disrespected by school administration, which makes them leery to put a lot of effort into changes that once again might not be supported. It’s humbling for me to realize that my idealism comes from not having to deal with day-to-day struggles that teachers in this school are facing.

What is one important thing you have learned either about yourself or the world around you during the course of your community-connected work?

I’ve learned that impatience is one of my biggest weaknesses, and that I have to model for students the “long view,” helping them see that building relationships takes time, and there may not always be a tangible “outcome” that you can point to for years in the future. This is a good reminder for me, but it’s also great for students who see themselves as “activists” and are used to talking about change-making and problem-solving. I’ve also learned that in our desire to “help others,” we sometimes dehumanize those others, forgetting that they have agency, aspirations, and lived experiences that might actually teach us something.  So I think the b

How does collaboration contribute to your work? Do you have any advice for those who may seek to collaborate on a project?

Collaboration makes me aware of my privilege—not only as a straight, white, U.S.-born citizen, but also as a faculty member at Middlebury College. I didn’t realize until doing this sort of work that while Middlebury has a lot of prestige, many people in the community are skeptical of what scholars have to offer to real-world problems.  I see my community engagement work in some ways as “PR” for the college.  2 pieces of advice: 1) Spend a lot of time learning about the issues—this can take months or even years. When you find yourself thinking: “This isn’t that hard! Why can’t they just…[insert naïve solution here] assume that there’s something you are not understanding about the history and/or nature of the issue(s) at hand.  2) Ask genuine questions. Acknowledge the deep expertise that community partners have, and present yourself as learning from them, rather than “helping” them.

What is one of the fondest memories you have of collaborating with students in your work?

In 2016, we used funds from an AOE grant connected to my FYS “Language and Social Justice” to visit Nepali heritage classes at the Vermont Hindu Temple (I had consulted with the leaders to develop the program and curriculum and to get some startup funding).  When we got there, they had us all sit in a circle (Midd students, kids in the program, and teachers/helpers) and they taught us some letter in the alphabet. Then they asked me to remind students of why it is important for them to maintain a connection to their Nepali language and culture. At first I was taken aback, because I didn’t feel that it was my place to be making that argument, but one of the leaders said “You’re a professor. They’ll listen to you.” That was a moment where I realized that I could use my privilege to work WITH the teachers in reinforcing an important message to their young students.

My students also visited an Open House for the Nepali Program later in the semester, and they had some great conversations with students in the program about all sorts of things. And there was delicious food and fun music!

 

Know someone we should interview and/or spotlight? Email cceintern@middlebury.edu

Photo Story: Learn More About Privilege & Poverty National Internships

The Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster integrates rigorous academic study and focused direct service to disadvantaged communities and persons, enriching the education of undergraduate students in all majors and career paths. This summer internship program provides students with an opportunity to extend their learning about poverty and inequality in the classroom out into communities, both local and national, through funded summer internships.

Local summer internships are available at WomenSafe, John Graham Housing & Services, HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects), Mary Johnson Children Center rural food programs and the Charter House Coalition .

National internships are coordinated through our participation in the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty summer internship program. Since 2005, Middlebury College has participated in the SHECP program to support students in summer internships with agencies that seek to work alongside vulnerable populations. Internships are available to non-graduating Middlebury students and are located in urban and rural settings throughout the United States with agencies that serve in educational, healthcare, immigration, legal, housing, social and economic capacities for the needs of individuals and their communities.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 15th. 

To apply and learn more, check out the listing on Handshake. To get a glimpse into life as an intern, check out our photo story below.

National P&P interns attend an opening and closing conference during the course of their internship through the college’s partnership with SHECP. Here, Elizabeth Zhou ’18 presents at the closing conference in 2017.

Interns at the 2017 SHECP Opening Conference with CCE Director Tiffany Sargent ’79 and Professor and P&P Academic Director James Calvin Davis.

The 2018 class of Local P&P interns gather for a group discussion during the summer.

The 2018 class of local P&P interns goes through a workshop as they prepare to begin their internships.

Photo Story: Japan Summer Service-Learning Program 2018

This post is the first in a series highlighting some of the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement’s international programs.

Below you will find a handful of photographs from the 2018 Japan Summer Service-Learning program. Since the program began in 2016, the CCE has sent college students to Japan, partnering with the Middlebury School in Japan and the Service Learning Center at International Christian University (ICU) in Mitaka, Japan.

To learn more about the program, click here.

To learn more about a student’s experience with the program, read Diana Lam’s ’21 reflection on the CCE Blog, here.

If you’re interested in participating in the program yourself, applications for summer 2019 will available in February 2019. Questions can be directed to Kristen Mullins at kmullins@middlebury.edu.

Participants assist in community cleaning, including a garden and pool. 

Part of the service experience includes visiting schools in the area, including the junior middle school below.

Program participants stay with a host family. 

TODAY IS ELECTION DAY: How We Can Help Get You to the Polls

 

TODAY is Election Day and MiddVOTE is committed to helping you get to the polls!

Here’s what they’re doing to help you get there:

Get a Ride to The Polls
Come to ADK Circle to catch a shuttle to the polls every hour, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. The shuttle will drive you to and from the Town Clerk’s office! More information can found on Facebook here.

Party at The Polls
Students, faculty, staff, and local community members are invited to MiddVOTE’s #VoteTogether Party at the Polls! Stop by the tent at College Park (across from Shafer’s Market and Deli) to enjoy hot chocolate, pizza, face painting for children, and more on your way to the polls at the Town Clerk’s office and celebrate Election Day. More info can be found on Facebook here.

Register AND Vote in Middlebury
As a Middlebury College student, you are a resident of Vermont! This means you can register AND vote in Middlebury on Election Day. Check out this article by The Middlebury Campus on how to do just that.

And check out the paper’s coverage on elections here in the state of Vermont so you can be an informed voter!

Attend the Election Night Watch Party
Come join us tonight from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for a bipartisan midterm elections viewing party at Crossroads Cafe! Help yourself to pizza, cookies, chips, salsa, and soda as election results come in. Professors Matt Dickinson and Bert Johnson will provide commentary. The even is cosponsored by the Middlebury College Democrats, Middlebury College Republicans, and MiddVote. More information can be found on Facebook here.

Follow MiddVOTE on Facebook for updates throughout the day!

Community Partner Profile: Zoe Kaslow ’15 of Addison Central Teens

Last year, we at the Center for Community Engagement profiled leaders of a student-service organization here on our blog. This year, we are getting to know our community partners, leaders in Addison County and beyond with whom we partner in our work.

Our first profile is Zoe Kaslow ’15, the current executive director of Addison Central Teens, located in Middlebury.
 
What is the purpose of your organization and what does it look like on a day-to-day basis to meet that purpose in your role?
Addison Central Teens provides a Teen Center and after-school alternatives that are welcoming, safe and fun for all teenagers in the community. Teens have a place to hang out as well as opportunities to plan and participate in activities, special events and community service at the Teen Center and throughout the community. We are open every day after school from 3-6pm, and we have snacks, games, and programming!
 
Please share a brief story/moment/memory from your work that captures some of your favorite aspects of your job.
Serving students this summer from Middlebury Union Middle School, Middlebury Union High School, and other surrounding schools in the area, we offered five one-week sessions of summer camp this year with themes ranging from Outdoor Sports to Farm-to-Teen. Driving nearly 900 miles, stopping 7 times for creemees, and competing in 2 cooking challenges, ACT summer camp provided teens with an invaluable summer experience: tech-free hours, time outside, and new adventures. While the camp enjoyed old favorites such as paddle boating at Branbury State Park, hiking Snake Mountain, and milking cows at Shelburne Farms, they also participated in unfamiliar activities too. A highlight of our trip was a survivalist skills workshop in the Green Mountains with Josh Hardt of the Moosalamoo Center at Otter Valley Union High School. We built fires, ate cattails, and created shelters. Seeing teens take supported risks and learn about themselves through this activity was my favorite moment of summer camp!
 
When was a time you learned something surprising, either about yourself or the world around you, in your role?
As a graduate of Middlebury College, I have been surprised by how much I have learned about a community I lived in for four years. After graduating, I did two years of AmeriCorps service in Portland, OR before returning back to Middlebury. Since moving back I have learned so much about the nuances, challenges, and triumphs of Addison County, and I encourage students to get off campus and dive deeper into the larger community around them.
 
When was a time you felt challenged? How did you overcome that challenge?
I feel challenged everyday! I continue to learn about the teens, the community, and the work that we do. It’s never boring!
 
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in doing a job like yours?
Plan well, be flexible. Let your most shameless, silly side shine through, and the teens will love you for it!

MiddVote Wants YOU! to Register to Vote and Volunteer at Registration Drives

MiddVote is a non-partisan organization that works to get out the vote in Middlebury.

This fall, MiddVote will be having voter registration drives all over campus to help people register to vote and request absentee ballots for the upcoming midterm elections!

If you would like to start volunteering with MiddVote, they will be having a training/review session for new and old volunteers on Tuesday, September 18th at 6:30 p.m. in Davis Library room 145. The training/review session will be followed by a registration drive in the entrance of Davis from 7-9:00 p.m.

Please email middvote@middlebury.edu if you are able to come to the training and/or the registration drive on Tuesday, September 18th.

If you can’t make it on Tuesday but would still like to be a volunteer, no worries! MiddVote will be having several drives throughout the semester and its totally ok to just show up—they will show you what to do!

Also—be sure to like MiddVote on Facebook so you know when events are happening and can share them with your friends!

Here is the list of upcoming voter registration drives:

Date Location Time
9/18 Davis Library 7-9 pm
9/20 Proctor Terrace 5-7pm
9/23 Ross Terrace 6-8 pm
9/25 (National Voter Registration Day!) McCullough Patio 330-5pm
10/1 BiHall 3-5pm

Student Leader Spotlight: Maddie Maloney, Nutrition Outreach and Mentoring (NOM)

Nutrition Outreach and Mentoring (NOM) is a student service organization with the goal of creating community and connecting people through food and food education. The student-run group organizes volunteer events and classes with the purpose of teaching people how to cook healthy food for themselves on a budget and to acquire the independence and knowledge that comes with this life skill. The aims of these initiatives are to establish healthy eating and cooking habits and to raise awareness about nutrition and current food issues.

This week’s student leader spotlight is Maddie Maloney ’19, the president of NOM.

 

Why should folks join NOM? What will they take away from the experience?

Folks should join NOM because it is a fantastic opportunity to create meaningful connections with some very adorable kids while teaching and facilitating healthy eating habits. Volunteers will walk away from taste tests and other NOM programming having served healthy fruits and vegetables according to the Vermont Harvest of the Month calendar , or having provided educational nutrition lessons that will positively affect members of the Middlebury community in the long-term.

Why did you first join NOM?

I joined NOM because I believe that constructing positive relationships with food is essential to long-term health, well-being, and happiness. I found my own path to a positive relationship with food during the transition from high school to college, and I joined NOM because I wanted to both share this experience with others and assist the youngest members in our community in enacting lifelong healthy eating habits. I firmly believe in the power of preventive medicine and the role that nutritious food plays in protecting and maintaining health. Finally, I so appreciate the opportunity to connect with members of the Middlebury community and create meaningful relationships.

What has been your most memorable experience as a member of NOM?

My most memorable experience as a member of NOM was this past March when we had a maple syrup taste test at Mary Hogan. The fabulous team at Mary Hogan found a way to make this month healthy by cooking maple-roasted turnips, which were a HIT! As in, so much of a hit that we had children swarming our volunteers for sixth, seventh, and eighth servings of the turnips. Not only was it hilarious to watch the elementary schoolers chase our volunteers around with their trays of samples, but it was incredibly rewarding to hear that many of the kids really liked a food that is not typically kid-friendly, and wanted their families to make them at home.

What have you learned, either about yourself or the world around you, as a member of NOM?

As a member of NOM, I have learned the value in creating and maintaining relationships with members of the greater community. It can be easy to get caught up in everything that happens on campus (especially when we are all so busy!), but I have learned that it is incredibly beneficial for both Middlebury students and the kids we work with alike when college students are really involved in the community.

Where are you from and what’s your major? What other activities are you involved with on campus?

I am a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry major with a Global Health minor from Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to being the president of NOM, I am a research assistant in a biology lab on campus, a YouPower spin instructor, and an organic chemistry peer tutor.