Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knight Talk with Rachel Stone '12 with the Dear Hillary Campaign for the Congo

On Tuesday, I attended an extremely moving and powerful event. The Dear Hillary Campaign, is a campaign designed and initiated by St. Michael's College students to end the violence in East Congo. Student Global Aids Campaign along with the Peace and Justice Club and with many other students/faculty involved inspired this amazing campaign. Rachel Stone, a junior was involved in the planning of the event.

1. First of all, What is the “Dear Hillary” Campaign for the Congo?

The Dear Hillary Campaign for the Congo is a demand for action. There is a law in place, Public Law 109-456, that is being ignored by government officials and we are asking Hillary to enforce it. The law has several parts but the underlying idea of it is that the United States will no longer contribute to or support the violence in the Congo that is caused by Ugandan and Rwandan forces. Through the Dear Hillary Campaign, 56 chapters across the US and in the Philippines, UK, England and Canada, joined the movement. Each chapter participated in the campaign by watching Lisa Jackson’s documentary, “The Greatest Silence,” which exposed the issue of sexual violence in the Congo, and signing a postcard to be sent to Hillary. The postcard combined a birthday greeting, because we are contacting Hillary on her birthday, with a demand for enforcement of Public Law 109-456. Secretary Hillary Clinton will be receiving a total of 17,000 postcards signed by individuals around the world, all in support of this demand for justice for the women in the Congo.

2. What was the purpose of last night’s flagship event? How did it go?

The flagship event was the second part of the campaign, besides the postcard signing, and meant to spread awareness of the crisis in the Congo. Last night, all of the chapters of the Dear Hillary Campaign around the world held a similar event. Each chapter received a copy of the DVD, The Greatest Silence, along with their postcards, and they showed the documentary to their chapter last night. The documentary has shocking footage from Lisa Jackson’s trip to the Congo and her interactions and interviews with raped women as well as the soldiers committing the brutal crimes.

The event went very well, starting with Hillary’s “birthday party,” we sang happy birthday to her, lead by the Aca Bellas, and then watched the documentary. At the conclusion of the documentary, the audience was encouraged to ask Lisa Jackson questions about the film and her experience, and it was clear through the discussion afterwards that people were moved and upset because of what they just saw, but also inspired to help. That is all we could hope for.

3. Why is the St. Michael’s Chapter so important to this campaign?

The St. Michael’s chapter is important because this is where the whole campaign started. Leah Zieglar and Kate Bailey, two seniors at SMC worked with Professor Laurie Gagne over the summer to start the campaign. Through connections, word of mouth, and a strong presence in the media, the St. Michael’s chapter extended the campaign across the country and the world, creating a total of 56 chapters.

4. What made you decide to become involved in the Dear Hillary Campaign?

I heard about this campaign through a friend who became a part of the committee when we returned to school in the fall. I have been a member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign since freshman year, so I’ve worked on issues regarding the crisis in the Congo in the past, and this was just another effort I wanted to be a part of. The worst part about the genocide in the Congo is that very few people around the world know it is even happening. It is such a horrifying crime against humanity, and I feel it is my job to do what I can as a fortunate, privileged human being, to speak up for those who can’t. This campaign required a simple task that can cause a serious impact; it was easy to commit to it.

5. What do you think is the biggest thing we can do as students to stop the violence in the Congo?
The easiest thing for students to do is to spread awareness on the issue and speak up for the women in the Congo who cannot. The most effective thing, though, would be to go right to the top, contact the people who have authority in our country and are contributing to the violence, and relentlessly demand change. We have power as US citizens living under a democratic rule to contact and communicate with our leaders with extreme global power, and we must embrace that opportunity for control and use it to demand justice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Knight Talk with Cassandra Burns '11 from International Outreach!

1. What is International Outreach?
International Outreach is a mentoring program that operates through MOVE. Once a week, kids from the
Winooski school district come to Saint Mike's to play, hang out, and get help with their homework if they need it.
We have 17 awesome kids that range in ages from around 6 or 7 to 16. Their families are from Thailand, Vietnam,
Somalia and Nepal. English is not any of the kids' first language, and they are all somewhat new to
America. We see them each week to provide whatever they might n
eed- someone to play soccer with, to help with math homework or to talk about whatever they want or need to talk about. The kids don't have too many constants in their lives, so one of our main focuses is to become one for them.

2. What kind of activities do you do with the kids?
We each have one kid that we spend most of our time with, but we will eat dinner as a group and every other week we do group activities. The kids are read with at the beginning and end of every session together to help with reading ability. So far this year we have played a lot of kickball, gotten Henna tattoos, made friendship bracelets, gone apple picking and a lot of other fun activities. In the future we are planning a trip to Pizza Putt, learning dances from the kids' original countries, and a swimming day. There is a lot of freedom as to what types of things can be done week to week. Sometimes the kids know specifically what they want to do, sometimes they are happy to play musical chairs or freeze tag with everyone else.

3. What made you want to be involved in international outreach?
In a fiction class I was assigned the book What is the What by Dave Eggers and it made me much more aware of how hard it is in certain cases to live in an politically unstable country. After reading it I really wanted to do something to help with the refugee population that lives right down the hill from us. I got an email from MOVE describing the program and I decided to join!

4. How do you think the children benefit from having a mentor?
The kids are still working on their English and living in America is a new thing for them, so we help them to adjust in a good environment. School can be a tough place to have to do that, so we offer them a safe space and a place to just have fun. The program is a 4 year commitment, so in theory a child will have the same mentor for 4 years- which will give them one more constant and influence in their life.

5. How do you become a mentor? Do you have any advice for people wanting to become more involved with international outreach?
If it is something that you want to do, come hang out on a Thursday afternoon with us and see what it's all about! If you end up liking it (who doesn't like playing with kids?) you can sign up and become a mentor! It is a 4 year commitment, but don't be discouraged if you aren't a freshman- I joined my junior year. If you are looking to help but can't commit to every week, Homework Club is also a great way to interact and help with international kids within the Winooski school district. International Outreach is a great program that I think really does a lot of good, and is also a blast!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Maine, Columbus Day Break, FALL!

Hi everyone!

So lots has happened since my last few posts. Fall is in full force at SMC, the leaves look absolutely amazing and it's such a pretty time to be on campus! I've been super busy with all of my classes, Student Association and my internship. I'm loving my classes this semester, especially my photography class and I feel like I'm learning a ton this semester. Graduation is only 7 months away and its certainly still scaring me but I'm trying to enjoy the time I have and not think about it too much.
About two weekends ago a few of my friends on the Student Association E-Board got together and took a fun trip to Maine to relax and spend some quality time together. It was so much fun to get away for a little and not too mention being on a lake was amazing. We ended the weekend by having lunch at one of our SA faculty advisor's house. Here's a picture of us all in front of Lake Champlain!

I had a busy week of meetings, classes and of course swim practice! Swimming is now in full force with our new coach Eileen Hall. Although I was very sad that our old coach, Jim Donoghue had retired, Eileen has been doing amazing things with our team. We've been doing dryland work every day, running, lifting, and a ton of squats...eek. I'm not going to lie...I couldn't walk down the stairs for about a week. But we have been working really hard and I'm excited to see what the upcoming season has in store for us!

This weekend I was able to take a trip home to the Cape to see my family and some of my friends. I met up with some of the girls from study abroad in Boston and we stayed at my friends apartment right next to Fenway, went out and had an amazing time. I've missed them so much and I truly miss Ireland a lot. I miss the country, my friends, garlic chips and cheese, and seeing sheep on a daily basis. :)
I have been working on my internship with the Marketing and Communications department and trying to get my head together for plans next year. I know I definitely want to go into the field of media communications, especially social media. I've been learning awesome things about YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and how businesses, organizations etc. use them to enhance their marketing and connect with people all over. I'm really interested in communications and marketing in general! I'm attending the Career Symposium tonight and tomorrow, and I've been able to talk with The Board of Trustees for the college, and have been making connections here and there! I have my fingers crossed that every thing will come together and my work will pay off someday :)
In the next few weeks, we have HALLOWEEN coming up...which means the Halloween dance. I honestly could not be more excited! And my first swim meet will also be coming up November. I can't believe how fast this semester is going by and its already time to pick classes for second semester. I'm loving fall though and trying my best to enjoy every single second I have here.

So that's just a quick little update. As always, any questions, comments, or suggestions are always welcome!! Talk to you all soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What is your favorite thing about SMC and why?

My favorite thing about SMC would have to be the opportunities I've had to get involved in so many different activties and pursue so many of my interests. Academically, I've been able start as a Biology major, switch to English major and then add my Journalism minor. I've been able to take literature classes, marketing classes, science classes and art classes all in the same semester. Socially, I can be part of an atheltic team, involved in Student Government, and volunteer all at the same time! You don't have to limit yourself to one major, one activity or one specific role at St. Mike's you can do anything and everything that interests you :)

Why did you choose to go into journalism and what has been your experience with that major at SMC?

I'm actually a Journalism and Mass Communication minor but I spend a lot of time with the Journalism department! The Journalism and Mass Communications department at St. Mike's is an amazing program with a lot of different options and opportunity to develop your own interests. I chose journalism because I love to write but I also wanted to pursue different areas of journalism like feature writing, public relations, and creative design. Journalism is changing within our society and the program also allows you to not just pursue writing and newspaper skills but also new media skills. As a Journalism major you will write and manage our school's print publication The Defender, but also learn to create a website, use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, create digital film and so much more. You can also take amazing classes like Photjournalism, New Media, Nature Writing, and Global Communication. Although it's a lot of hard work, I know I'll be prepared in so many different areas when I graduate! :)

Ask me anything!

Wednesday Knight Talk with Sam Hooper '12 from The Defender/Naked Opinion

How does the Defender, our school newspaper reach out to students?
According to the mission statement, as the editorial staff of The Defender, we strive to accurately professionally and ethnically report the news affecting the lives of students and our community.

What is your job on the Defender? What do you do?
I am a Naked Opinion Online Editor. I design the pages for the Naked Opinion section of the Defender Online. I hand drew each button and scanned them onto the website. I and the other Naked Opinion Editors, Erik and Kalin choose a theme of the week and notify students and faculty on campus so that they can share their thoughts and submit written pieces on the theme. We encourage anyone on campus to submit poetry, art, or columns about anything they wish top write about. I also post photos that are submitted by students and Jerry Swope’s photojournalism class.

What are some of the other sections of the Defender?
News, Features, Columns, Naked Opinion and Sports

How does the Naked Opinion differ from the News? Which do you like better?
The Naked Opinion gives students a chance to speak out about anything they desire to. Each week there is a theme that students can write about. Students are free to express themselves through the Naked Opinion which makes it interesting for others to read. The News section of The Defender is much more structured. Students write about a certain news topic and interview sources for their article while submissions to the Naked Opinion are much less structured and more up to the writer.

How do you encourage other non-journalism students to submit to the Naked Opinion?
We encourage anyone on campus to show off their work in the Naked Opinion.

What are some of the topics? What has been your favorite topic so far?The themes for the Naked Opinion have been time, visions, want, and connections. My favorite is connections because I am currently writing a piece about it.

Does the Naked Opinion just accept writing or are you able to submit other pieces of work?
You can submit writing, poetry, art, photography or anything thing else that you feel passionate about artistically.

Visit the Naked Opinion Online and Look for a new issue of The Defender every Tuesday!