Tag Archives: CCCS grant

Celebrating International Education Week at the CCE

Every year, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education celebrate international exchanges and education through their join initiative called International Education Week (IEW). This program is meant to “prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences” (iew.state.gov).

Here at Middlebury, we are committed to bringing global perspectives into one space as well as developing intercultural experiences through many ventures. Some larger educational opportunities include study abroad, language schools, and language classes. The Center for Community Engagement also supports ventures that allow students to explore new cultures and share their own cultures within the Middlebury community and beyond. Some of these are the Language in Motion (LiM), domestic and abroad MAlt trips (Middlebury Alternative Break Program), the Cross Cultural Community Service (CCCS) fund, Japan Summer Service Learning Program, and Academic Outreach Endowment grants.

We’ll take this International Student Organization’s (ISO) International Week as an opportunity to highlight three of these internationally focused programs!

Language in Motion (LiM) connects students who have a cross cultural experience through Middlebury’s international, study abroad, and upper level language programs with Addison County high school and middle school teachers, students, and classrooms. After training and with guidance from CCE staff, students provide lessons that promote global awareness, cultural competence, and world language acquisition. 

I love Language in Motion because it makes me think about my experiences as a bi-cultural person who grew up in both Thailand and the US, and how that impacts how I see my two cultures, the world, and also a new language and culture (Spanish/Hispanic culture) that I was introduced to when I was 15. It is always an exciting challenge to think about how to relate my experiences (and make them accessible) to different age groups, whether it be 3rd graders, 6th graders, or high schoolers, and the opportunity to go off campus to present is always a welcome break from the Middlebury College bubble.

Pim Singhatiraj ‘21.5, a Language in Motion participant teaching Spanish and Spanish/Hispanic culture
Pim Singhatiraj ’21 conducting a reflection session about global perspectives for students from the Addison County area

The MAlt Program allows Middlebury students to design and plan six trips during February Break in both national and international destinations. The goal of these trips is to allow students to engage with outside communities by providing service when and where it is needed and learn from these engagements.

Being from the Caribbean, I didn’t quite know what to expect from my MAlt trip. I had only been to Trinidad & Tobago, an island that I related to and knew as a second home. The Dominican Republic showed me a completely different side of the Caribbean, where people spoke Spanish, ate Mangú and listened to Bachata. My MAlt trip taught me that there are never-ending perspectives no matter what your expectations might be.

 Melynda Payne ‘21, a participant in the Dominican Republic Alternative Break Trip
Melynda Payne ’21 at the Dominican Republic MAlt trip with a view of the natural landscape of the country
MAlt participants in the Dominican Republic spend time with Dominican students, doing crafts and participating in student-led lessons

The CCCS Fund (CCCS) supports international service-learning and community-building internships and/or related volunteer service opportunities for undergraduate students. These internships and service initiatives may be student designed while preference is given to those opportunities in a culture distinctly different from the applicant’s background, usually outside of the U.S. Since 2009, the CCCS fund has supported 315 student-led projects, in 70 different countries!

My time in Nosara provided me essential context for my studies at Middlebury, as well as real-world experience in what can often be a stale research-based field. I was encouraged more than ever to pursue my goals of teaching English abroad after I graduate, in the many forms that this might take.

Spencer Royston ’21, supported by CCE’s Cross Cultural Community Service Fund last winter to work with a library in Nosara, Costa Rica 
Spencer Royston ’21 engaging in the Nosara community

Besides LiM, MAlt, and the CCCS fund the CCE has other programs that are also focused on global engagement and perspectives, and you can explore them via their websites linked here: Academic Outreach Endowment, Japan Summer Service Learning Program, and Jiran

We encourage students to engage in communities beyond of our Vermont Middlebury experience, through the many connections offered here. As we can learn from students’ experiences described above, global experiences can expand our perspectives within our increasingly interconnected society. The numerous opportunities that the CCE offers are meant to do just that!

Lizzy and her CCCS Grant


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!


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!