Tag Archives: News & Events

Student Reflection: MLK Day Jr. Legacy Dinner with the CCE

On January 13, 2023, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the Anderson Freeman Center, and the Scott Center collaborated to create Food and Fellowship: A Celebration of MLK Jr’s Legacy. The event was an interactive dinner that focused on MLK Jr’s legacy, open to both on-campus and community wide participants and hosted by Justice Elijah, AmeriCorps VISTA with the CCE, and keynote speaker Esther Charlestin.

As an Americorps member, we are responsible for organizing an event around MLK Jr and his legacy for MLK Jr. Day of Service. The celebration of MLK Jr. and his legacy is a prominent memory from my upbringing in southern Georgia. So, when I was tasked with curating a service related project– I wanted the event to feel like home. I wanted folx to be well fed, feel heard, and to learn something. Thus structuring an interactive dinner, a social media campaign and centering the black experience. Highlighting the atrocities and the fight black/brown people still having to face with an attitude described by Esther (the keynote speaker) as “YET, WE DID IT ANYWAY”. 

To help with planning this event, the CCE hired two student interns to help promote the event and provide day-of logistical support: Gabby Chalker ‘25 and Samimah Naiemi ‘26. We asked them to provide their reflections helping to support the event while also participating in discussion with other campus and community members.

-Justice Elijah, CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member 22-23

What were your first impressions and/or your experience attending the event as a participant after helping to plan it? 


As a J-term community service intern for Middlebury’s Center for Community Engagement, I had the opportunity to take part in Food and Fellowship: A Celebration of MLK Jr’s Legacy. I worked with Justice and Shannon at the CCE to assist them with any logistics in the planning of this event, which served to remind us of all of the work that has been done and that still needs to be done regarding racial justice in this country.

In preparation for this event, I researched civil rights leaders less popular than MLK Jr and posted them on CCE’s social media to educate students/community members about important historical figures. I also gathered marketing materials about the CCE to share with guests at the event and curated a donation list of Black-owned businesses in Vermont to put in our program, including food, hair stylists, nonprofits, retail stores, farms/agriculture, and civil rights/BIPOC affinity groups. Further, I helped develop reflection questions for after the keynote speaker’s address, gathered children’s books and games centered around diversity and racial justice for the children’s room, and developed the event program to be put at each attendee’s seat. Helping in this planning definitely helped me to appreciate the small details, like the time that went into the creation of the program, the coordination of catering such incredible food, all of the decorations, and the seating/name cards. If I hadn’t been involved in the planning process I probably would not have taken so much time to really appreciate these small additions and reflect on the effort (and usually collaboration) required for each.


As a J-term Community Service intern, I worked with the Middlebury`s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) that provided me with an opportunity to be part of Food and Fellowship: A Celebration of MLK Jr’s Legacy. I worked with Shannon and Justice in helping them with planning this event. 

Attending the MLK event was my first experience [with this holiday]. As an international student from Afghanistan, I learned about the importance of celebrating this day for the first time. The MLK dinner event played an important role in fighting social and racial injustice by bringing people in the community together to remind them about the existing social and racial injustice. Speakers in this event talked about how they fought for their rights against social and racial injustice and they reminded us that we can all fight it by coming together and discussing it. The MLK dinner provided an opportunity to discuss ways on how to reduce social and racial injustice.

I had not worked on planning a lot of events, so I did not know how much work and effort 

making an event requires. In helping plan the MLK dinner event, I learned how to get different tasks done such as making invitations, drafting emails, and making RSVP forms. I learned that a lot of planning, communications and work needs to be done in order to make an event happen. I would not realize this by only attending the event. I felt very accomplished to see the event that I was working on with my team brought  so many people together. I was inspired by a lot of people at the event, and I felt honored to be part of the planning of such an event.

What was your favorite part of the event planning process?


I feel like I learned most from creating the social media posts about other civil leaders aside from MLK throughout the week. Even if I was familiar with some figures already, doing a deeper dive into their upbringing, education, personal lives, etc. revealed a lot to me and provided me with more context about their work. This really shaped my understanding of civil rights leadership– what motivates/cultivates it, the different paths each took to leadership, the barriers that persisted even after success, how much community and teamwork was required to successfully create change.

I also loved discussions with the team (Justice, Shannon, Samimah) because I learned a lot about event planning logistics, as well as navigating discussions about race in Vermont – from a reflective and an administrative standpoint. The team really cultivated a community so quickly (in a matter of 1 week) and in that short time I felt I already had a support system that was extremely helpful in navigating the process of event planning, especially an event on a complex and important topic. This was important to me because I had others to look up to in this process of event planning I was unfamiliar with. Instead of just checking tasks off a to-do list, I was given genuine feedback on each assignment and was able to have honest conversations about pros/cons of different approaches to what was and wasn’t included in the event and about solutions as problems arose.


During planning the event, I learned even more than just attending it. It helped me learn how to plan an event, how to work with a team, and how to get tasks done on time. My favorite part of the planning process was working with the team. The team was supportive and they helped me find ways to [accomplish my work]. Working with them closely rather than just checking the task off from the list helped me feel more engaged with the work and the team. It was a feeling of community and collaboration.  

Where did you see community building at the MLK Day event? 


I was surprised to see so many Middlebury students there and excited to see several community members’ faces who I did not recognize. It made me feel more connected to the wider community, reminding me that it is not just students or our generation that is passionate about these issues. This made me feel more connected to Vermont as a place where justice and civil rights is a shared goal/virtue. The number of people there made me excited at the various stakeholders who were there to learn about, participate in, and celebrate MLK’s legacy. I also think that the different colored seating tags [to vary campus and community members at each table] and the reflection questions really facilitated dialogue and new connections amongst participants. 

The speaker, Esther Charlestin, was also very impactful in the energy that she created which everyone in the room felt. Her vulnerability in sharing her experience as a Black woman in Vermont set the tone for others to share in this open space. It was clear that each person in the room could resonate with at least one of her messages/statements. I feel this really built a community of people willing to listen, learn, and act from/with each other.


During the event I met so many people from different races, different ages and backgrounds- students, faculty, community partners, and so on. I made a good network with a lot of good people from Middlebury and outside of Middlebury’s circle. I found it very valuable that this event really brought so many people together to share about their experiences and hear about others. I felt very connected to the community outside the Middlebury College for the first time because many of us could relate to social and racial  injustice existing in society. When the speaker as a Black woman shared her story of facing racial injustice, many of us in the event could relate to her story. This really brought people in the community together which reminded them that we all relate to painful experiences of each other that were caused by racial injustice. 

What was your biggest learning moment being part of this event (either through the planning process or during the event itself)?


Collaboration is crucial to the facilitation of an event which truly fosters community engagement and collective learning, reflection, and action. This collaboration was fostered through experiential learning about community engagement and event planning via my work with more experienced staff members to learn about the community stakeholders and diverse perspectives that must be represented in justice-oriented events.


Everyone in the team had a role and a voice. Every task was done with good communication and collaboration among the team. I learned that we learn more when we work together. The good result of the team work was what made this event happen and seeing this was the biggest learning experience. 

Throughout the planning, Shannon and Justice were very nice and supportive. This made me feel more comfortable with them. When I had a moment where I did not know what to do, I had the courage to ask them instead of panicking. This helped me feel more motivated to get the task done as well as I felt more confident. 

The EU, Universal Basic Income, and COVID-19: an Interview with Maeve Moynihan ’17

CCE VISTA Member Ellie Dickerson ’19 interviews Maeve Moynihan ’17 about her work with Europe’s Stories, a University of Oxford project researching European opinions on critical social, political, and cultural issues.

Maeve Moynihan ’17 is a writer, researcher, and advocate of social change primarily interested in issues of migration and mobility. While at Middlebury, she engaged deeply with community-connected learning though CCE programming and majored in History and minored in Spanish & Art History. After graduating, Maeve received a master’s in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford. She is currently working with the Europe’s Studies research team, a project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at the European Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, to research European opinions on critical social, political, and cultural issues. 

Maeve Moynihan ’17 is writer, researcher, and advocate of social change interested in issues of migration and mobility and is currently working with the Europe’s Studies research team at the University of Oxford.

Europe’s Stories’ March 2020 survey, designed in consultation with the Bertelsmann Foundation’s eupinions survey project, provides insight into the current and future state of the EU, including, perhaps, the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the region. In one of the more striking survey results, 70% of the 12,000 EU & UK respondents supported a Universal Basic Income (UBI), while 84% backed a mandatory minimum wage.

I was thrilled when CCE Director Ashley Laux asked me to reach out to Maeve to learn more about the project because of my interest in the topic, but also because Maeve is awesome. I first met Maeve during a Middlebury club frisbee practice in fall of 2015, my first semester at Middlebury. Standing on the sidelines waiting for our turn to get into the scrimmage, we bonded over our shared Nebraska roots (Maeve lived 6 months in Omaha, I grew up in a small town in the north central part of the state) and discussed all things Midd. When I described my intense anxiety with writing essays, Maeve assured me that it would be okay and offered to help me with any assignments, or simply sit next to me while I wrote. “Writing buddies,” she said. 

The interest and commitment Maeve showed to me, an anxious first year whom she had just met, meant a lot to me at the time, and serves as a great example of her character. When I say Maeve is awesome, I mean that she is one of those rare people who makes time for others while also engaging deeply, and impressively, with community and academic research. While at Midd, Maeve was a solid Prankster (I, on the other hand, only “played” on the frisbee team for one semester and never in any tournaments), a Juntos Compañeros volunteer, a MiddView Transfer and Exchange Leader, a Service Cluster Board Coordinator, a Kellogg fellow, and a Fulbright award winner among other activities and accomplishments.

Keep reading to learn more from Maeve about Europe’s Stories, her role on the research team, and her take on survey results, with particular emphasis on UBI and (im)migration issues.

Maeve, could you tell us a little more about Europe’s Stories and your role on the research team, as well as what led you to the position?

Europe’s Stories is a multi-year research project that seeks to illuminate the many narratives of Europeans in the 21st century. Dramatic changes in the past few years, including Brexit and the growth of populist movements, suggest that a new story of Europe is emerging. Oxford Professor Timothy Garton Ash leads our team in exploring the diverse strands of these narratives.

I joined the team as a Dahrendorf Scholar in early 2019 during my Masters at Oxford and focus primarily on analysis and evaluation of our interviews. Our research is currently based on two main pillars: interviews with individuals across Europe and public opinion surveys in collaboration with eupinions. Interviewees are invited to share their formative, best, and worst European moments, allowing us to see trends among political, cultural, and social events. Our public opinion surveys allow us to get a broad perspective on what young Europeans think about topics like climate change, populism, migration, and more. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, our team launched a self-interviewing feature which has allowed us to broaden our audience considerably.

What aspects of working with Europe’s Stories have you most enjoyed? What has been surprising or challenging?

We have an incredible international team of researchers from a variety of academic backgrounds who regularly challenge me intellectually. Our discussions push me to consider not only the current state of Europe, but what the future could look like and how we can play a role in shaping it. Unfortunately, as in any research project, it’s difficult to reach every voice and hear every story. I’ve found it challenging to know that our results so far do not represent the full spectrum of experiences of Europe. In particular, our results represent very few marginalized groups, such as irregular migrants and refugees, people of color, and those that are already silenced in many aspects of the EU. In the coming months, I am hoping to develop this aspect of our project and enrich our pool of respondents.

70% of the 12,000 EU and UK individuals surveyed support a universal basic income (UBI), while 84% back a mandatory minimum wage. Did these statistics surprise you–or not in light of the financial crises and uncertainties brought on by COVID-19?

Europe has a very robust public welfare system, so the widespread support of UBI and a mandatory minimum wage did not surprise me as it would have in the U.S. These results came from a survey completed during March 2020, when many Europeans began to confront the economic threat of COVID-19. Whether or not that threat is directly related to the support for UBI and minimum wage is hard to tell, as the pandemic was just starting to take hold in Europe at that point.

UBI & mandatory minimum wage are two progressive economic reforms that could benefit society’s most vulnerable. On the other hand, COVID is exacerbating border tensions and nationalistic sentiments within the EU, leading governments and individuals to feel an even greater need to protect their borders, their medical supplies, and their food. In your interview for the European Moments project, you discuss how you see restricted policies around movement as the EU’s most defining issue. What factors do you think will be most important in harnessing the more positive results of COVID while reining in the negatives, especially around issues of movement and mobility?

As we have already seen, COVID-19 is a liminal moment when our societies can carefully construct a more thoughtful future. From my perspective, the most important factor with regards to COVID and migration is clear, data-driven research, policy, and communications.

In the context of mobility in our research, the story is particularly interesting. The majority of our respondents, most of whom are EU citizens, have indicated the freedom of movement as the most important thing the EU has done for them personally. However, very few mention the inherent lack of movement for non-citizens. The recent border closures due to COVID-19 have given Europeans a lens into the lives of people on the move, for whom borders are almost always closed, whether bureaucratically or physically. Many governments have used the pandemic to further develop already hostile practices in Croatia, Malta, and the Mediterranean, for example. In order to facilitate a sustainable and just recovery with regard to immigration, Europeans need to understand precisely how (im)migrants contribute to European society economically, culturally, and socially. When you actually look at the numbers, scholars have shown that the 2015/2016 refugee crisis, rife with xenophobic tendencies, was not in fact a crisis of refugee arrival, but rather a crisis of the failure of EU governance. Similarly, the anti-immigrant Rhetoric that defined the Brexit Leave campaign was rooted in xenophobic rhetoric. Just four years later, Europe and Britain are witnessing the literally life-saving impact of immigrant essential health workers during the pandemic. Clear, unbiased, data-driven research can drive appropriate policy that would finally establish mobility as an asset to Europeans, rather than a liability.

Thank you, Maeve!

MiddView Trips Engage in Vermont Communities

As a culminating orientation week experience, Middlebury College sends its first year students off campus with various MiddView trips. These three day excursions allow students explore Vermont, wilderness, and/or community engagement. The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) advises the eight community engagement trips, supporting new students to learn more about pressing social issues in the Vermont community. This year, based on student interest, the CCE addressed six central themes across the trips: Access to Affordable Housing, Animal Advocacy and Rehabilitation, Bridging the Health Gap, Exploring Education in Rural Communities, Immigration and Vermont’s Diverse Communities, Working Together to Effect Change. Sixteen student leaders with experience in these areas led the trips, after two weeks of hard work in training and preparation.

One of the Animal Advocacy and Rehabilitation trips, led by Tyler DeStrong ’22 and Noelle Ruschil ’22, learned and served at Homeward Bound, Addison County’s Humane Society.

By the end of the weekend, students worked with forty six Vermont organizations. Each group partnered with Vermont community organizations that embodied the theme of their trip. The Access to Affordable Housing group worked with organizations like the Charter House Coalition and Addison County Habitat for Humanity, while the Immigration and Vermont’s Diverse Communities trip worked with Migrant Justice and the Open Door Clinic. Some other partnering organizations included Homeward Bound, North Branch Nature Center, Adison Central Teens, and Bixby Memorial Free Library.

Middlebury first year students had a chance to not only get to foster new connections with their peers, they also got to start engaging with new communities. Alex Dobin ’22, a Juntos Board member who supported an information panel with the Immigration and Vermont’s Diverse communities trip, shared, “It was awesome to meet first years who dedicated their first few days at Middlebury to thinking about immigration and social justice, and to engaging with the Addison County community.” In my experience as a student (Alondra Carmona, ’21), I value MiddView trips because as the academic year progresses and things get busy, it becomes harder to initiate engagement with the community outside of Middlebury College. As participants return to campus and classes get started, students take with them a fun and meaningful introductory experience that is shared among their new classmates.

Middlebury’s community partners, College, and CCE welcomes the class of 2023 and hopes to hear amazing stories from our future leaders!

Three Students Join United Way’s Community Impact Funding Team

A meeting of the United Way of Addison County’s Community Impact Funding team. Hira Zeeshan ’22 is second from the left.

In January, the CCE advertised in our weekly newsletter an opportunity for students to join the United Way of Addison County’s Community Impact Funding Team. Since then, three college students, Lulu Zhou ’19, Hee Yeong Son ‘20.5, Hira Zeeshan ’22, have worked as part of the 27-member team.

The students have helped allocate thousands of grant dollars, which will ultimately be distributed to 17 local nonprofit organizations. The grant dollars aim to support programs that improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of Addison County residents, such as hospice services, domestic abuse support, support for elderly, summer recreation, meal programs for local students, and more.

According to the United Way of Addison County, in April, the team will convene to make funding recommendations to the UWAC Board of Directors, with the goal of focusing philanthropic dollars where they will make the largest impact. In the past three years, CIF grant reviewers helped UWAC invest over $990,000 in 33 programs covering 28 different agencies across the region. 

“We were fortunate to have three Middlebury College students on our CIF grant review team this year. Their thoughtful questions and comments have been top notch and their status as non-Addison County residents has brought a fresh perspective to the process,” said WAC Executive Director Helena Van Voost. “Their participation has truly been invaluable and we are very grateful.”

Student Lulu Zhou, who has been a member of the team for two years, called the experience one of the highlights of her community engagement and college experiences.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to concretely understand social issues facing local communities, learn about the diverse programs local organizations offer to promote equity, gain insights into grant applications and NGO programming, and work with a group of individuals dedicated to social justice,” Zhou said. “This experience certainly reinforces my passion for doing community engagement related work after Middlebury.”

If you have questions about being involved next year or other local volunteer opportunities, please contact UWAC’s volunteer coordinator, Linnea Oosterman at linnea@unitedwayaddisoncounty.org

March Elections: A Guide to Voting in Middlebury

On March 4th and 5th, Middlebury will be having a town election! If you are registered to vote in Middlebury, you are eligible to vote in this election. Learn more below!

Town Meeting:

March 4th is Town Meeting Day. Town meeting is a New England tradition in which people come together to discuss and vote on local issues. This year, town meeting is on March 4th at 7:00 p.m. at Middlebury Union High School. You are a resident of Middlebury and a Middlebury voter, so you are eligible to attend town meeting, listen and voice your thoughts about town issues, and vote!

How to get there:

You can walk or drive to Middlebury Union High School (73 Charles Avenue), or take a MiddVote shuttle! The MiddVote shuttle will leave from Adirondack Circle at 6:45 pm and return at 9:00pm.

March 5th Town Election:

March 5th will be a town election, and Middlebury residents will vote on more local issues. Some initiatives you will see on this year’s ballot include:

  • Two resolutions sponsored by climate justice organization 350VT, which would encourage Vermont legislators to transition towards more renewable energy and ban the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. If you want more information on these two resolutions or want to discuss them with peers and community members, Middlebury College Sunday Night Environmental Group (SNEG) is hosting a panel tonight in the Ilsley Public Library.
  • A resolution that would appropriate funding to Habitat For Humanity Addison County to support affordable housing.
  • A resolution that would ban single-use plastic bags in the Town of Middlebury– check out this Campus article for more info! To learn more about this or voice your thoughts, attend a community meeting at Ilsley Public library on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 7:00pm.
  • Voting for local officials (listed on ballots below)

If you vote on March 5th, you will be given three ballots: the Addison Central School District Ballot, the Hannaford Regional Technical School District Ballot, and the Middlebury Town Meeting Ballot. You can learn even more about candidates and ballot measure at the Addison County Independent and Front Porch Forum (sign up with your college mailing address).

When/Where to Vote on March 5th:

Polls will be open on March 5th from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm at the Middlebury Town Offices (77 Main St). You can walk or drive down anytime! If you want a ride, MiddVote will be running shuttles to the polls on March 5th from 3pm-6pm, leaving from ADK every hour.

If you have friends who want to vote in this election but are not yet registered to vote in Middlebury, let them know that they can still register to vote any day up until and including election day! All you need to register on election day is to bring your Middlebury College ID and remember the last four digits of your social security number.

If you have any questions about voting in this election, don’t hesitate to reach out to middvote@middlebury.edu.

Abby Dennis ’21 is the president of MiddVote, Middlebury’s non-partisan student organization working to increase voter participation.

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!

Rural Fun Delivery: My Local Privilege & Poverty Internship, by Claiborne Beary ’20

Claiborne Beary ‘20 reflects on her experiences as an Addison County Privilege & Poverty Intern with Mary Johnson Children’s Center as their Rural Fun Delivery Program Manager

Rural Fun Delivery (RFD), a Mary Johnson Children’s Center program, provides free, healthy lunches and engaging summer programming to kids 18 and under in mobile home parks in Starksboro, Vermont. Last summer, RFD expanded to offer afternoon activities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and provided each site with a Little Free Library full of books donated by local non-profits. Eight weeks into my internship, I am thrilled to be a part of RFD’s fifth summer delivering food and fun to the kiddos in Starksboro.

I began my internship with RFD by planning activities for the summer and preparing promotional materials with my co-lead intern Lily Barter ’19.5, in addition to helping out with the Mary Johnson Children’s Center’s after-school program at Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School. Having served with Middlebury College’s Page One Literacy Project, I was especially excited to build on the existing Little Free Libraries and offer a new summer reading challenge to help foster a love of reading.

We began delivering lunches – prepared by the Mt. Abraham Union School District – three weeks into my internship and centered that week’s activities around community. That included playing blob tag and creating a collaborative poster! We have since traveled through space, explored nature, and transformed into superheroes. This is currently our fifth week and we are going under the sea by learning the classic game Captain’s Coming, creating slime, and perfecting our water balloon toss. I have greatly enjoyed building relationships with the kids so far – getting insider knowledge about all the animatronics in the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s, meeting a fantastic group of stuffed animals, and discussing our favorite superhero movies.

I look forward to drawing from my experience with RFD in my work with Middlebury’s Page One Literacy program and in future non-profit work with kids. I am so grateful to Anne Gleason, Director of School Age Programs at Mary Johnson, for this opportunity and to Lily for her creativity and enthusiasm.

“These interactions have really helped me understand the power of providing a safe space for kids to be kids.”