Thursday, April 21, 2011

Knight Talk: Joel Smus '11 with the MOVE Extended Service Trip to India

1. Why did you apply for a service trip? Why did you choose India?
I applied for a service trip because it is a passion of mine to serve others. I have always had a desire to travel to other parts of the country/world and if I can do that by helping out other people, then that is awesome in my eyes. I chose India because it is a country that I have always wanted to go to and finally I had the opportunity to go. I did apply the last two years but I feel like it is good that I am going now then had I gone either of the two previous years. India is a county of so many contrasting concepts that I am extremely excited for this oppurtunity.

2. How many other service trips have you been on?
I have been on 2 other service trips. I went to Hope House out on Long Island my freshman year and then to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary out in Utah my sophomore year.

3. How do you prepare for a service trip to India?
I have prepared to go to India by going to all the meetings that we have had each week since November. We have learned about the culture, the people, the politics, religion, geography, weather.etc etc. Their is a tremendous amout of information that we could learn about before entering into the country. One of the greatest ways that I have begun to truly get myself ready, now that we are officially only 1 month away, is by trying to remember how I first felt when I arrived in country in Uganda, where I studied abroad. Things were difficult those first two weeks. I want to remember what I did and either change it or do the same when I arrive in India. I have been trying to read up on a little Bengali and cultural custums. I know that when I arrive home I will pour over any last minute information on what I can do to learn about India.

4. How many other students are you going with?
I am going with nine other students. Seven of us are seniors, 2 juniors and one sophomore. Then there is our adult group leader and the other non-student who is an ACA on north campus.

5. What do you hope to learn from this trip?
The greatest thing I hope to learn from this trip is something that I started to learn while I studied abroad in Rwanda. While in Rwanda, I saw some of the worst events, worst things a person could ever see...I saw dead bodies. Nothing prepared me for that. What I want to be able to learn from India is how to continue to see tough images but know how to cope, deal and not move on but learn from it and then give back. I want to be able to handle these situations with understanding and gratitude for what I have in life.

It will have been a year and half since returning from Africa, but I can still remember so many events, stories, people and places so vividly that this is what I hope to gain from India. I want to be able to remember India, what I saw, smelt, felt, heard, and tasted...but above all I want to remember India as if I'm still living there. I hope to be able to learn that when I come back I won't ever forget what I saw, I want to learn that India is a part of me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Knight Talk: Kimmy Thevenet '11 about The Clothesline Project

April is sexual violence awareness month and on April 6th, Saint Michael's participated in an event called "The Clothesline Project". Kimmy, an SMC senior and intern with Women Helping Battered Women, talks more about the event...

How did you become involved with the Clothesline Project?
My internship through the Psychology Practicum class this year with Dave Landers is at Women Helping Battered Women. My supervisor and I both got involved in Sexual Violence Awareness Month Committee in which we, along with Women’s Rape Crisis Center and other volunteers, have been planning events to take place in April that will bring awareness to the fact that sexual and domestic violence does exist. One of those projects was the Clothesline Project.

What was the purpose of The Clothesline Project and the Red Flag Display?
The Clothesline Project was a collection of t-shirts that Women Helping Battered Women service users, Women’s Rape Crisis Center service users, and others who have experienced any kind of sexual or domestic violence had made. Each t-shirt told a different story and each color t-shirt represented a different topic. The white t-shirts were for all
who had experienced or knows someone who has experienced sexual violence, red t-shirts were for all who had experienced or knows someone who has experienced child sexual abuse, grey t-shirts were for those who have experienced or know someone who has experienced domestic violence, and green t-shirts were for hate crimes against lesbians. Making a t-shirt was a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions.

The purpose of the project was to “air the dirty laundry” and show that sexual and domestic violence really does exist and is more prevalent than one may think. It happens everywhere throughout the nation, and even throughout the world, and the goal of the clothesline project was to show that. Another goal of the project was to portray the pain that the women have gone through, and also the strength they have for speaking up about it and asking for help. Overall, the main goal of the project was to spread the word about the existence of sexual and domestic abuse, and break the silence of the survivors with such traumatic experiences,
The Red Flag Display was to represent the number of service users that Women’s Rape Crisis Center in Burlington, V
T has helped in the past year. The exact number was 527. It is great that they helped so many people, but sad that the number of people that needed to be helped is so high.

How did St. Michael’s students react?
I was sitting at the WHBW table from 6:30 am- 2:30 pm along with other work study students from the Women’s and Gender Center and other students from my Practicum class. From what we saw, a lot of students seemed more confused than anything else. It is not every day that we see clothes hanging up
on a clothesline in between our academic buildings, so I think people did not know what to think at first. A
decent amount of the students though came up to the table we were sitting to ask what was going on and what the t-shirts were for. A few of them even took brochures from the Women’s Rape Crisis Table an
d the Women Helping Battered Women table which was great! I loved seeing even the international students walking around to check out the t-shirts and telling me that I was doing a great thing! I felt like majority of the students appreciated the display.

This month is Sexual Violence Awareness month, what other events are planned for the coming weeks at SMC?
! Unfortunately though, there are no other events planned for SMC, but there are definitely a lot more in the coming weeks in the Burlington area! Champlain College is hosting another Clothesline Project on April 19-21 from 11-2pm, and Take Back the Night Rally, March, and Speak Out is at the UVM Bailey Howe Library on April 20th at 5:30.

How can students become more involved or more informed?
If you or someone you know is experiencing either domestic or sexual abuse, speak up! It is a subject that should never be silenced and WHBW and WRCC are always here to help. There is a 24 hr hotline for both servi
ces and you can explore further options for help after the first call. WHBW has legal advocates, economic justice advocates, a shelter or safe home that one can stay at if in immediate danger, and plenty of staff to talk to for emotional support.

Another way to get involved is to keep your eye out for volunteer opportunities. WHBW and WRCC have plenty of phone-a-thons, runs and walks to raise money and/or awareness, and donation opportunities throughout the year. They are always looking for more help! We are also interested in creative ways to get our message out, like how the Clothesline Project did, and would be open to new suggestions from our community and St. Mikes. We are always looking for ways to connect with the community and raise awareness.

In order to get more informed, I would suggest either attending events where brochures and pamphlets are handed out. Both WHBW and WRCC have a facebook page where they post events or training opportunities. WHBW’s Education and Public Relations Specialist, Darrel Morris, or Development Specialist, Tara Perkins are also available speak at Saint Mike’s. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so that would be a perfect time for them to come talk!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Future of Democracy?

Last Tuesday, St. Michael's students filed into the McCarthy Arts Center to hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak about "The Future of Democracy in America".

Bernie Sanders spoke about issues such as social security, employment, and preserving our environment. When the time came for questions, a student voiced his support of the proposed budget cuts that would eliminate funding to hundreds of Head Start preschool and early education programs around the country. If passed, Head Start programs would close their doors and leave 336 Vermont children without early education and support from these programs. I volunteer at Champlain Valley Head Start where these proposed eliminations hit far too close to home.

At the Franklin Square Head Start Preschool, four year old Olivia sings her favorite Justin Bieber song while practicing writing her name. Grace, from the Ivory Coast, makes play-do spaghetti on a kitchen set while another group of giggling children take turns stirring a bowl of blueberry muffin mix to have at snack. Play based learning excites and engages these intelligent, happy, and creative preschoolers in our classroom. Each week, my roommate, who also volunteers at the preschool, and I laugh about how each student is uniquely funny and ridiculously cute in their own way.

Some of the children and their families are refugees from war torn countries such as Sudan and Somalia. Other children come from low-income households in the Burlington, Franklin Square area. Their families have made a conscious decision to provide their children with the opportunities and education they know will help them succeed. But Head Start does even more. Teachers educate and provide dental hygiene, help make medical appointments, and provide endless support for families. Children are also able eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast and lunch each day at school. The learning continues at home where teachers provide home visits to each child and provide extra care and attention when classroom time ends. Head Start does not just prepare each child for Kindergarten, but plants the seeds for a bright future.

I hope our country, including our students, realize the importance of programs such as Head Start and the positive impact they have on families and communities across the nation. By gaining support for these programs and opposing these devastating budget cuts, we can have a hand in changing the direction of our country. We have a duty to preserve the future and give back to those who may not have the same opportunities that we had. Head Start believes each child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. After all, how can democracy have a future, if our children do not?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Knight Talk: Leah Ziegler'11 with Fix It With Five!

1.What is Fix It With Five?
Fix It With Five is a student-led and student funded grant
organization founded at Saint Michael's College in 2009. The mission of Fix It With Five is to promote systemic change through its annual donation to a local, national, or international community based organization with the goal of permanent sustainable change. Following the Saint Michael's College mission of social justice this student led and student funded organization will provide education and awareness to the college and surrounding community. In partnership with the chosen organization, the Fix It With Five committee will aim to alleviate a condition leading to the degradation of human dignity.

2. How do you feel this grant benefits the Saint Michael’s Community?
70% of students participate in MOVE during their four years at Saint Michael's which is an amazing opportunity to give to the community. Fix It With Five provides an additional opportunity to give to the community that after fours years at Saint Michael's we call home. It is part of the mission of Fix It With Five to educate the SMC community about issues facing the larger Burlington community. The panel presentation is an opportunity to educate the SMC population about issues our community faces. For the students who apply to be on the committee are able to gain multiple skills that look great on a resume. For me personally I want to work in non-profits when I graduate and Fix It With Five has been a great networking and learning experience about the development of Fix IT With Five organization and the organizations which apply for the grant. Fix It With Five also works to create longterm relationships with the annual grant recipient as well as the organizations which apply. This year we matched organizations with clubs at Saint Mikes, organizations are always looking for volunteers and as the presenters stated at the panel, we provide fantastic volunteers.

3. How do you narrow down the finalists for the Fix It With Five Grant?
We have an evaluation sheet that lists criteria that we are looking for based on our mission statement and questions we asked on the application and rank the organizations accordingly. It is a very difficult process, if we could we would support each organization, and we try to either with funding or with volunteer support. This year it came down to five organizations which different committee members advocated for.

4. Why do you believe in Fix It With Five and why do you feel it’s important for SMC to give back to our community?
I believe in Fix IT With Five because I recognize the importance of service, funding, and advocacy. During my time at Saint Michael's College I have worked to support the community in all of these ways. Saint Michael's College students all have their own passions and interests, what I think is great about Fix It With Five is that the entire campus can come together and make a difference. I believe in Fix It With Five and think that Fix It With Five has already made a difference. The idea of Fix It With Five could be applied on other campuses, it is my dream to expand Fix It With Five, knowing that Fix It With Five is working to create systemic change in our community.

5. When can students vote, and how important is their opinion?
Voting is going on NOW we are tabling in Alliot at lunch and dinner Thursday and lunch on Friday. Every student's opinion counts, so many students already work to address the issues of poverty, refugee resettlement, education, homelessness etc which the three finalists are working to address. students should educate themselves on the organizations and their part in making a difference. It is your decide where it goes!

For more info check out their website: Fix It With Five !

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Global Eyes...

Here are my submissions for the annual Global Eyes Photography Contest. Let me know what you think!

  • In the City Life category, "Daily Catch"

  • In the Humor category, "When Irish Cows Are Smiling"

  • In the Landscape category, "Under the Rainbow"


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do people stay on campus on the weekends?

Yes! Weekends are amazing on campus. Our student activities office plans awesome activities on campus that everyone sticks around for. Our student activities director sends out an e-mail each Thursday with activities happening at St. Mike's and around Burlington. From dances, ice skating, bowling and even fun socials on each residence hall floor, there's always something to do!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Knight Talk: Meg Flynn '12 with Common Ground!

Christine just recently had a Formspring question asking about an awesome group on campus, Common Ground. Megan Flynn, a junior, is a member of this inspiring group...

What is Common Ground?
Our mission statement reads, Common Ground’s goal is to promote social awareness, especially regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally issues. By embracing a gay-straight alliance, we can create a safe space for people of all sexualities, gender identities, and individualities within ourselves and the Saint Michael’s Community.

How can Common Ground benefit an SMC student?

Common ground can really open up the minds of students at SMC. Any stigmas any person has can be changed very quickly. At the weekly meetings CG likes to update on current events/issues which keeps us all up to date. Any LBGT or straight ally that is looking to share their ideas, feats, or thoughts can truly benefit by having the opportunity to share them.

What inspired you to be a part of this group?

I am friends with a lot of LGBT people as well as having a gay brother. I felt as a straight ally, I could help and learn a lot. I'm very glad I did!

What are some events Common Ground has sponsored?

This past November, we sponsored a Gregory Douglass Concert. We also sponsored a student- teacher meet and greet, President Neuhauser was there! There will tons more to come, keep an eye out for emails or check out the website !

What have you learnt from being a part of Common Ground?

I have really learned how deep words can cut, whether it be a gay slur that college students, especially, use in everyday speech can truly hurt a person. I have learned a lot about being able to open up and share my thoughts as a straight ally. But that doesn't mean I have similar fears as that of an LGBT person. This is a gay-straight alliance which I think a lot of students don't realize you don't have to be an LGBT person to join!
If you’d like to join, who would you contact? When does the club meet?

Just show up to the meetings Tuesdays at 6 in Eddies! :)