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
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
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
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!