Tag Archives: Student Organizations

National Mentoring Month

What is National Mentoring Month? 

Each year in January, organizations and programs around the nation celebrate the meaningful relationships that mentorship provides. Throughout the month, there are workshops, conferences, training, and more dedicated to teaching mentors vital skills and strategies for improving their mentorship relationships. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with mentorship for the first time or connect with a local or national organization dedicated to fostering relationships.

A group of Middlebury college students gather on the green grass outside the Center for Community Engagement. They're standing in pairs, talking with each other.
Community Engagement Leaders gathered in the fall to brainstorm goals & ideas for their organizations.

Why is mentoring an important aspect of community connection/engagement?

Research has indicated that mentoring provides a plethora of educational, behavioral, and social-emotional benefits,  for both mentees and mentors of youth. On average, kids who are involved in meaningful mentoring relationships have better academic performance, better school attendance, and more positive attitudes about school and classroom participation. They’re also less likely to partake in illegal drug and alcohol use and show decreased rates of violent behavior. Likewise, mentoring relationships improve the lives of mentors as well! Studies show that individuals engaged in both informal and formal mentoring often have increased self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and pride, insight into youth experiences, increased patience and supervisory skills, and a network of volunteers. These benefits can be personally fulfilling and also contribute to career development and success, especially for college students who are developing vital interpersonal work skills. 

Through mentoring, each and every student at Middlebury college has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. By dedicating just about an hour a week to a mentoring program (less time than most of us spend scrolling through TikTok!), you can provide a sense of stability and connection to a kid or teen in the community.

What opportunities are there for students to get involved in a mentoring program at the CCE?

The Center for Community Engagement supports a variety of mentorship programs that can fit most student schedules and interest areas. If you are interested in joining one of the organizations described below, their contact information has been provided. In addition, you can reach out to either Shannon Lyford (slyford@middlebury.edu)  or Gabi Cuna (gcuna@middlebury.edu) who advise the Youth & Mentoring organizations. 

For individuals interested in volunteering with elementary aged youth, Community Friends, Page One Literacy Project, DREAM, and Nutrition Outreach & Mentoring (NOM) provide opportunities to work with kids aged kindergarten through fifth grade. Programs like Community Friends and DREAM match college students to kids directly and support 1:1 mentorship relationships, whereas Page One and NOM use group programs to support children’s literacy and access to nutritious foods respectively. 

If you’re looking for opportunities with middle school aged kids, Brother to Brother and Sister to Sister provide group mentorship opportunities. They host fun activities throughout the school year, accompanied by discussions about middle school issues like healthy masculinity, self-esteem, and bullying. NOM also hosts in-person cooking classes at Middlebury Union Middle School during the school year. 

For opportunities with high school students, check out Middlebury College Access Mentors (MiddCAM) who lead a 1:1 mentorship program that pairs middlebury college students with Addison County high school students so that they can learn more about their post-secondary options and the college application process. Mentors are paired with their mentees during the spring semester of their junior year in high school and stay paired for three semesters, until their mentee graduates high school. NOM also hosts group mentoring programs focused around nutrition and access to healthy foods in collaboration with Addison Central Teens. This program relies on a consistent group of volunteers who visit the teen center biweekly and host cooking classes and activities. 

As you can see from the variety of programs and activities offered, the Center for Community Engagement supports a multitude of ways for you to get involved in mentorship. These programs can fit a variety of schedules and time commitments, age ranges, and focus areas. For more information, click through and check out the Presence page for each of the organizations discussed, or contact Shannon or Gabi to discuss ways to get involved.

Semester Highlights!

As the year comes to a close and the winter break approaches, the Center for Community Engagement would like to As the year comes to a close and the winter break approaches, the Center for Community Engagement would like to take time to reflect upon and appreciate all the opportunities we had this semester to lead impactful initiatives, build lasting relationships between students and community partners, and connect with one another.

Student Activities Fair

First-year students visited CCE student-led Community Engagement Organizations and local community partners at the Student Involvement Fair to learn how they can get involved in the community! The Center for Community Engagement prepares students for lives of meaning and impact through local, national, and global community connections. By strengthening students’ civic identities, knowledge, and skills, our programs work to strengthen communities and contribute to the public good. Students at this year’s fair had the unique opportunity to meet community partners from local organizations and learn more about how to make connections with the Middlebury community both on- and off-campus. 


The Involvement Fair was just one of the ways the CCE connected with new students this fall. The CCE also hosted over twenty programs during Orientation that reached over 200 students in the incoming class to connect them with the broader Middlebury community and ways to get involved in community-connected programs. For more information visit the CCE website or follow us on IG @MiddCommunityEngagement.

Three students sitting outside the CCE enjoying pizza at sunset at the Privilege & Poverty pizza social.
Privilege & Poverty pizza social.

Students in the Privilege & Poverty (P&P) academic cluster gathered over pizza to discuss what they’re learning in class about systems of oppression and how power and privilege impact social change. The Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster integrates coursework with experiential learning to critically examine the causes and consequences of economic inequality. 

This fall, students had the opportunity to take a variety of classes like American Consumer Culture, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene, and more. P&P students apply theory to practice by pairing their classroom experiences with a hands-on internship which can take place either locally or away. Local internship opportunities include working with organizations within Addison County including Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE), WomenSafe, Open Door Clinic, and more. For more information on the P&P Academic Cluster, visit the P&P Website!

Five students participating in Language in Motions mini-MAlt trip.
Language in Motion (LiM) Mini-MAlt Trip!

Aniketan (AK) Pelletier ’25 enjoys a break at the West Rutland Art Park with Rutland High School (RHS) students during the fall Language in Motion (LiM) Mini-MAlt trip. The trip was a culmination of a pilot LiM/RHS collaboration, bringing global perspectives to the study of local history. 


Language in Motion (LiM) is an educational collaboration that connects Middlebury’s international, study abroad, and upper-level language students with Addison County elementary, middle, and high school teachers, students, and classrooms. With support and training, Middlebury College students prepare and deliver lessons that promote global awareness, intercultural competence, and world language acquisition. This semester, 24 new and returning undergraduates and teaching assistants (and two alum) participated in the Language in Motion program. They collaborated with 11 teachers at five different Vermont schools to develop and deliver 17 classroom presentations. For more information about LiM and how to get involved, visit the LiM website!

Middlebury student and their mentee posing with their name necklace at Community Friends match day.
Community Friends Match Day.

New Community Friends mentors met their mentees for the first time as part of Match Day, an annual event that has been held virtually since the start of the pandemic. Community Friends, a one-on-one mentoring program that has been around since 1960, matched 20 new students with youth in mentoring relationships this semester. The program got special permission to hold Match Day in person with COVID precautions. Mentors, mentees, and families spent time talking, making crafts, and playing games with each other. 

Community Friends is a one-on-one mentoring program that matches Middlebury College students with children ages 6-12 in Addison County. The pairs meet regularly, often on campus, to play games, make arts & crafts, visit fun areas around campus, and sometimes attend group events. Throughout this experience, students make long-lasting meaningful relationships with kids in the community.  For more information about how to get involved in Community Friends, go to the Community Friends page.

Three Juntos board members in a meeting at the CCE with a CCE advisor's dog, Flash.
Juntos Board’s Compass Sub-Committe Meeting!

The Compas sub-committee of the Juntos Board met to set goals for their remote and in-person English language tutoring for the semester, with the support of their CCE advisor’s dog, Flash. The mission of Juntos is to build a strong, safe, respectful, and socially just community with the long-term vision of equal social, economic, and human rights. Juntos seeks to uproot discrimination, exploitation, violence, and human rights abuses on Vermont farms. Through education, advocacy, and action for policy, Juntos works to support and be in solidarity with the migrant community. 

This semester, Juntos met weekly with Compas participants, collaborated with Allianza to host a Dia de los Muertos dinner, brought on new Board members, and connected members with advocacy opportunities. For more information, go to Juntos Presence Page!

Four students cooking in the CCE kitchen for the community supper.
Charter House Coalition Student Organization cooking community supper. 

The Charter House Coalition Student Organization works closely with Charter House Coalition, a local social service agency that provides emergency shelter, meals, and essential items for individuals experiencing homelessness. The Charter House team provides many supportive services to help people reach their goals of finding and keeping permanent housing. 

Throughout the semester, student volunteers meet in the Center for Community Engagement’s kitchen to prepare hot meals to take to Charter House. For more information about Charter House Coalition, you can view the Charter House Coalition’s Meal Schedule, or learn more about how to get involved with the Charter House Coalition Student Organization, you can visit their Presence Page!

Middlebury NOM participants posing for a picture while working in the community garden located Mary Hogan Elementary School.
Nutrition Outreach and Mentoring (NOM) working in the community garden at Mary Hogan Elementary School.

Nutrition Outreach and Mentoring (NOM) partners with local schools and organizations to provide education and mentoring focused on access to nutritious foods and building healthy habits. NOM is a student organization at Middlebury College that aims to create community and connect people through food and food education. Our student-run group organizes volunteering events and classes with the purpose of both exposing young people to healthy local foods and food practices, and to acquire the independence and knowledge that comes with this life skill. The aims of our initiatives are to establish healthy eating and cooking habits and to raise awareness about nutrition and current food issues among the youth population. 

This semester, NOM hosted over 20 meal kit prepping events, in-person and virtual cooking classes, and community garden events with Mary Hogan Elementary School, Middlebury Union Middle School, and Addison Central Teens. For more information go to NOM’s Website!

Three Page One students pose for a picture as they work on making craft kits for the Ilsley Public Library.
Page One Literacy Project making craft kits for Ilsley Public Library. 

This semester, Page One Literacy Project made over 50 craft kits that Ilsley Public Library will give out to local youth to encourage a love of literacy.  Page One Literacy Project aims to foster a love of learning in local elementary school students through weekly programming and community events like read-a-thons with Mary Hogan Elementary School and the Halloween Spooktacular. As mentors, organizers, and program leaders, Page One volunteers take an active role in promoting literacy in all of its forms. For more information about how to get involved, visit the Page One Presence page!

Ashley Laux (L) meets with, from L to R,  Lisa Viau and Phil Geier of DUWCSP, and Betsy Vegso and Antonio Baker-Médard the incoming staff for Projects for Peace, now based at CCE.

Projects for Peace, a global program which encourages young adults to develop innovative, community-centered responses to the world’s most pressing issues, is now headquartered at Middlebury’s Center for Community Engagement. Each year, Projects for Peace provides funding for around 100 projects. The program was formerly administered by the Davis United World College Scholars Program. 

Middlebury students who are interested in getting involved with Projects for Peace can reach out to the Projects for Peace Campus Liaison within the Innovation Hub. For more information on Projects for Peace, you can visit their new website

Student Leader Spotlight: Eliza Marks, Page One Literacy Project


The following reflection was written by Eliza Marks ’23, the Programming Coordinator for Page One Literacy Project. Page One is a Community Engagement Organization which aims to foster a love for reading and an enthusiasm for learning among elementary school students. Page One was founded in 2000 as part of Middlebury’s bicentennial celebration. Page One has hosted weekly reading programs after school and read-a-thons, created craft kits for the Ilsley Library and Mary Hogan Elementary School, and participated in large one-time events like celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Here, Eliza shares the excitement of returning to some in-person programming and some of the upcoming opportunities that Page One is hosting. For more information about Page One, you can check out their instagram @MiddPageOne or sign up for their upcoming events at go/pageonesignups.

Over a year since the Page One Literacy Project’s last in-person event in the community, last Tuesday five volunteers went to Mary Hogan Elementary School. Page One Volunteers, including myself, wrapped over a hundred books that will be given to Mary Hogan students in all grades. November 1st marks the beginning of Mary Hogan’s annual read-a-thon, and each kid will get at least one wrapped book! Having newly joined Page One last year, I had never experienced a Page One volunteer event at a school. Although the programming was excellently adjusted to virtual events due to COVID, being able to physically go into the local community and see some of the people we were helping felt extremely rewarding. 

Page One followed up the Mary Hogan book wrapping event with a booth at the Middlebury Spooktacular. This is an annual event, hosted by The Better Middlebury Partnership, where local kids walk around town to different locations and trick or treat! Page One received a large donation from Bonnie’s Books of over 250 books to participate in this event. Volunteers, dressed in their best Halloween costumes, handed out a book (and candy!) to each kid that came by. Although it rained all day, around 250 kids engaged in the Spooktacular. The Spooktacular was an awesome way to be able to directly interact with local kids and their families. It was so exciting to see local kids and parents dressed up in fun costumes. The Spooktacular was a gratifying way to take a break from homework and spend time in the community.

Looking forward, the Page One Board has planned three events for Mary Hogan’s read-a-thon. Primarily, we are hosting a Strega Nona-themed virtual read-aloud. Page One has purchased 15 books for Mary Hogan families and fun Strega Nona-themed craft supplies. Volunteers will read Strega Nona to a group of students and lead craft activities. We are also hosting a virtual If You Give A Mouse A Cookie-themed read-aloud, where volunteers will read the story and then make paper bag mouses, paper plate cookies, and mouse ears with the kids! Our final read-a-thon event is a book club-style discussion about the Series of Unfortunate Events. Page One is donating 15 books and will host a conversation and activities related to the book. These events are virtual, but all have an in-person activity and aspect incorporated. This is a super exciting way to combine both in-person and online aspects so that volunteers can participate in whichever modality they are comfortable with, and kids can be more engaged. 

One of Page One’s goals is to maximize connections within the community. This fall marks the transition from exclusively virtual to hybrid programming. I am extremely excited to see how volunteers can work with the community to facilitate fun, safe, and rewarding events with local kids.

Moving Forward

7 people sit around a table on a the screened-in porch of the Center for Community Engagement. They are sitting so that they can view a large TV which shows a Zoom screen where other members have joined them for a meeting.
Privilege & Poverty interns gather in person and via Zoom on the Center for Community Engagement porch.

The last year and a half has been a time of innovation and creativity for our student-led Community Engagement Organizations and staff-led programs. Traditional models of engagement typically include in-person volunteerism, community building, and face to face interactions that were not possible during the last three semesters. In order to maintain long-lasting relationships with community partners and continue to engage with the Middlebury community when it was needed most, many student organizations shifted to virtual or socially-distanced outdoor programming. As we move forward in the 2021-2022 academic year, COVID-19 protocols have shifted to reflect a highly vaccinated population while still accounting for community spread of COVID-19 variants. With these policy changes, student organizations have continued to innovate and grow.

For some organizations, virtual & socially-distanced programming opened up a world of new possibilities and projects. Nutrition Outreach & Mentoring (NOM) traditionally hosted in-person taste-tests and cooking demonstrations with local elementary schools to educate youth about healthy eating and cooking habits. During COVID, they developed cooking classes via Zoom and provided schools with ingredients to send home with students so that they could cook along at home. NOM also created a community garden at Mary Hogan Elementary where Middlebury students could engage with each other in person, without interacting in-person with children who aren’t eligible for vaccinations yet. Another Community Engagement Organization, The Special Olympics Club, moved programming outside and enjoyed the lovely weather by hosting outdoor walks and basketball games with Special Olympics Vermont athletes. Many of the 1:1 and group mentorship programs like Community Friends and Sister to Sister moved their mentor/mentee meetings and activities to Zoom so they could continue to connect with youth while maintaining physical distance. Other organizations opted for outdoor, socially-distanced, & masked gatherings when possible. Page One Literacy Project, an organization focused on encouraging a love of reading and learning among elementary students, participated in the Drive-Thru Spooktacular event hosted by the Better Middlebury Partnership and provided books & craft kits for more than 600 families during the pandemic. 

Middlebury College Access Mentors (MiddCAM), shared that they were able to successfully transition to completely remote programming during the pandemic and provide weekly mentor/mentee meetings online, as well as drop-in sessions for local high school students via Zoom. Though MiddCAM is excited for their mentorship pairs to have the option to meet in person again and host fun (and delicious) mentor meet-up events, all mentor pairs are given the choice of how they’d like to meet and some mentor pairs are still meeting virtually to accommodate busy schedules. These changes allow programming to be more accessible to the communities students are working with.

For some students, COVID-19 illuminated new opportunities for community engagement. Middlebury Volunteer Tutors (Midd VT) was founded during COVID to address the lack of educational support opportunities for youth in Addison County and to express “solidarity and gratitude for the deep care staff and faculty members have always given to students”. They created a network of Middlebury College students ready to support Middlebury employees’ K-12 children with tutoring services and were an important resource for the Middlebury College community during the pandemic. 

As the CCE returns to in-person programming with vaccinated populations, our Community Engagement Organizations are ready to take the lessons learned, grappling with what worked and what didn’t, from COVID-19 and build upon their traditional models to create new, exciting, and more accessible programming that encompasses the best of both worlds.

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership, and as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 her that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member a clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty-seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member and clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

ASIA Students Attend the annual ECAASU Conference

Queenie Li ’22 writes about her and three other students’ experience in attending the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring.

Asian Students in Action (ASIA) took four undergraduate students to the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring. The annual ECAASU conference brings together various colleges to participate in workshops about the Asian and Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) identity and diaspora, form connections between students, and to celebrate the AAPI identity. This conference is the largest and oldest conference for Asian Americans in the United States. Due to the support in part by funding from Community Engagement at Middlebury College, we were able to attend, gain knowledge, and make connections with other AAPI college students.

Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, and Queenie Li ‘22 pose for a photo during their free time.

Being surrounded by other AAPI students, we were empowered, reaffirmed, and felt deep sense of belonging. The conference was comprised of a diverse selection of workshops and caucuses. One workshop of note that two of us attended was entitled “Why Are We Here? The Role of Collegiate Asian Organizations,” inspiring us to reexamine ASIA’s mission and the community we serve. We left that workshop inspired and are now working to put on an inaugural AAPI conference here at Middlebury to serve colleges and folks in the northeast who were unable to attend ECAASU.

Lia Yeh ’20 with workshop facilitator and Midd alum Krysty Shen ‘17.

Of the caucuses, we were able to attend closed affinity caucuses or open caucuses about broader issues that we wanted to discuss. In light of recent news, there was a caucus dedicated to examining the coronavirus and the subsequent rise of xenophobia towards the AAPI community. The topics of discussion at ECAASU were reflective of current events as well as of continual issues that impact the AAPI community. Workshops and caucuses tackling recurrent issues offered deeper and niched perspectives that allowed for a new approach and understanding of the issues.

[The caucus focusing on coronavirus and the rise of xenophobia] was personally very powerful for me to be able share my emotions with many people and see that people share the same concern and frustration as me

Shuyi Lin ’23. an ASIA member at the ECAASU Conference

Apart from the workshops and caucuses, we found the conference valuable as it introduced us to other AAPI students from other schools. Due to our location in rural Vermont, being an AAPI student is often very isolating and we have little to no relationships with other collegiate AAPI organizations and AAPI students. The conference fostered those connections and we have left with new friends and collaborators. We are excited to have found companions and support on our journey as AAPI students. More importantly, we are thrilled to also be able to provide support to our new friends and to begin to provide support to AAPI members of the Middlebury community.

Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, Queenie Li ‘ 22, Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Rachel Jeong ’22 with members of Tufts Asian Student Coalition eat dinner together at the Conference.

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More information about ECAASU can be found here: https://www.ecaasu.org/