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! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Knight Talk with Emma Hauser '13 from the Aca Bellas!

Knight Talk with Emma Hauser '13 from the SMC Aca Bellas :)

  1. What are the Aca Bellas?
The Aca Bellas are the first all women A Capella group on the Saint Michael’s Campus. The Bellas are made up of about 17 female Saint Mike’s students, who all enjoy and excel at vocal performance. We all come from different backgrounds, and range in experience, which allows each girl to bring a different and new influence into the group.

  1. What kind of events do you girls sing at?
We perform at a variety of different events including benefits, performances with other on campus A Capella groups, athletic events, and school events such as parent’s weekend in the spring, and Friday Knight Dry. Our most recent performances include the a concert at a MOVE “Best Buddies” event, the “Make a Joyful Noise” benefit concert, and our final concert “Lending a Voice to Women Empowerment” at which all the proceeds benefitted Women Helping Battered Women.

  1. What has been your favorite event to sing at?
Each performance with the Bellas is a great experience because of the enthusiasm each member of the group brings when they are singing. But I would have to say that one of my favorite things we have done, would be singing in the mornings while students walk to class. Last semester we met on Thursday mornings at about 9:30 and stood near the paths to the academic buildings from Alliot. It was just our way of trying to brighten everyone’s morning as they went to class. I also really enjoyed opening for Mike Check and Sleepless Knights, because of the unity it brings between all the A Capella groups on campus.

  1. How do the Aca Bellas differ from the other singing groups on campus?
Well, the Aca Bellas are an all female group, which sets us apart from the other A Capella groups on campus. The Aca Bellas are also committed to giving back to the community. All of the proceeds from our concerts last year went straight to charity, and we plan to continue supporting both local and general charities for all of our future performances.

  1. When and how did the Aca Bellas become a club?
We became a club at the very end of fall semester 2010. In order to obtain club status we set up a meeting in front of the Student Association, and presented our Constitution. The Aca Bella constitution states the rules and regulations of the group. It states that as a club of Saint Michael’s College, we wish to provide entertainment to the Saint Michael’s College Community, and hope to reach out to the surrounding community and use our talents to benefit organizations and charities in as many ways possible. We presented our constitution and ended our presentation with a little performance. After our performance the members of S.A. voted and we became an official club!

  1. Who can try out for the Aca Bellas?
Any female Saint Michael’s Student is eligible to audition for The Aca Bellas. We advertise for auditions at the beginning of each semester, and ask that each student bring a short piece to sing in front of the board.

  1. How has being a part of the Aca Bellas benefitted you as a student? As a person?
Being part of the Aca Bellas has not only helped my time management but has given me a much stronger work ethic. Our group spends a large amount of time working not only together, but working independently in order to learn our music and achieve the professional sound we are hoping to produce. As a person, I have grown to understand much more about the different backgrounds the students at our school come from. Each of us brings a different musical perspective to the table, and each idea is received with positivity. Not only are we a music group, but we quickly bond to become each other’s support group when in need. We learn to listen, we learn to take advice, and we learn to voice our opinions, because we each offer something different to the group.
Check out the Aca Bellas Facebook Page!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Knight Talk with Catie Watt '11 from Women's Swimming!

For this week's "Knight Talk", I interviewed my fellow teammate and friend Catie Watt. This weekend, the swim team competed in our last home meet of the season. For us senior swimmers, it was our "Senior Meet" and our last time racing at the St. Mike's pool. We've had a great season and we are looking forward to swimming fast at Championships in two weeks. :)

1. How long have you been swimming?
I have been swimming competitively since I was 8 years old, and I have been on the SMC swim team since freshman year!

2. What is the hardest thing about participating in a sport in college?
The hardest part about participating in a sport in college is definitely balancing both academics and the sport. Since we practice two hours a day every day with additional meets on the weekends, it can take up a lot of time so it's important to make sure you keep a good balance with both academics and athletics and make sure you manage your time really well.

3. What has been your favorite memory with the swim team?
My favorite memories with the swim team have been the training trips we have been on every year. My Freshman and Sophomore year, we went to Florida. My Junior year, we went to Puerto Rico and my Senior year, we went to Washington D.C. While the training trips are hard work, its so fun to be in a exotic location with your teammates working hard, exploring the sights and traveling somewhere outside of Vermont. The training trips are also a great time for the team to bond during the hardest part of our season.

4. What is your favorite race?
My favorite race is the 200 free. I love sprinting events and I especially love the 200 free because it's not a super short event but it's not considered a distance event either. It's the perfect amount of laps of sprinting!

5. Do you find it hard to balance academics and athletics?
Sometimes I do find it hard,especially when I have a lot of work, but swimming has taught me to manage my time really well. If I know I have a lot of work coming up, I get started on it early so I am still able to attend practices and get all of the work done. Our coach is very understanding though about making sure academics come first, so if you have to miss a practice or a meet because of class or school, it is not a problem.

6. How has being a senior differed from being a newbie on the team?
Being a senior, I have had four years of experience being on the swim team and I know the routine now. I also know what it takes and what needs to get done to swim better. Since this is my last year of swimming, I know I want to do my best and preform well in each meet, so I know I need to work hard in each practice to do my best.

7. Do you have any advice for students wondering if they should try out for a sport?
If you currently play a sport in high school and are interested or thinking about playing in college, I would definitely e-mail the coach of the sport that you want to play. Even if you aren't entirely sure if you want to play, the coach can let you know how the sport runs, what you need to do and give you more advice. Also, when you come to visit, if you can catch a game/ meet and watch the current team, you can also some insight on what the team is like.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knight Talk with Katherine Hackett '11 from MOVE's Penguin Plunge Team

Think jumping into Lake Champlain in the middle of February sounds fun? Didn't think so. But Katherine Hackett '11 has been doing the Penguin Plunge for four years and loves getting freezing cold for a good cause.

1. First of all, What is the Penguin Plunge?

A fundraiser where all the proceeds go to the Special Olympics of Vermont. People come from all over Vermont to raise money and then jump into Lake Champlain in the freezing cold Vermont weather every February. The proceeds help support amazing Special Olympics athlete all over the state fulfill their dreams.

2. How did you get involved?

It sounded fun, and since a lot of people we meet from our Best Buddies program are also VTSO (Vermont Special Olympics) athletes, I thought why not?! So my friends and I made a team. We had so much fun I decided to spear head it through the MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) office the following year to get a bigger presence at the plunge from our St. Mike's community.
3.How many students are usually involved?

Well, since I've been participating for the past four years it has gone from about 10 to close to 50 students! Right now, the SMC MOVE team is in 4th place for our amazing fundraising amount. That's AWESOME!
4.What is your favorite part of the event?

Being in the water is wild. It is ridiculously cold. I get so nervous right before we plunge but the feeling after is amazing. You feel so warm and so much adrenaline is pumping through your body and its all for a great cause.
5.What is most fun about the Plunge? Most rewarding?

Most rewarding for me would have to be that people who do Best Buddies through the MOVE program are also athletes. It's great to see the familiar faces that we're supporting. The first time I saw a few of them handing out towels, I really felt like I was doing something good. It was then that doing the plunge was more than putting on silly clothes and running into a lake in February. I was helping these people live their dreams through their various activities with Special Olympics.
6. How do you sign up? When is it?

You sign up online with firstgiving, and the Penguin Plunge is February 5th, next Saturday! and then contact me, for more directions and information!

7. What would you say to encourage other students to participate?

You will never do anything like this, it is SO. MUCH. FUN. Plus, it's an easy way to not only raise money for an inspiring group but also awareness. College is a time where you have a huge pool of friends and are in contact with a lot of people. When you do something crazy like the Penguin Plunge, people hear about it-and when more people hear about their friends supporting a good cause, they just might be inspired to join in too.

For more information about the Penguin Plunge please check out their website or contact Katherine :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Beginning of the End...

Welcome back everyone!

I'm happy to say after an extremely busy finals week, holiday season and break I'm so happy to be back to start my final semester here at St. Mike's!

Finals week went by so quickly and before I knew it I was helping my family plan for our Christmas eve party. I loved spending the holidays at home and it was so nice to see all of my family. Here's a picture of all the cousins at my house Christmas Eve :)

After Christmas, I packed up and headed to Washington DC for the swim team training trip. We usually have the luxury of training somewhere warmer than VT but this year we decided to train at the Georgetown University pool in Washington DC. The area of Georgetown was so cute, and although we did have to walk quite a ways to the pool, it was a nice change of scenery. AND I was able to visit the famous, most amazing place on EARTH... Georgetown Cupcakes, home of the TLC show, DC Cupcakes. Let me tell you that waiting in line for 30 minutes with a group of grumpy, hungry swimmers after practice was totally worth it for these cupcakes. Yes, they were that good.

I really enjoyed spending time with my 5 other senior swimmers. We've stuck it out for four years and it will be sad to see the season end in February. Here's a picture of the 5 of us senior girls and our lovable freshman friend, Maddie, in front of the Washington Monument. As a team, we also took a special tour of the capital and an extra special tour of VT Senator Leahy's office, an SMC Grad. We were so thankful for his office coordinating a tour for our team and it was such a cool experience. After D.C, I had a few days at home and then headed up to Vermont to train at school for about two weeks. We have a lot of swim meets coming up in the next few weeks and the team has been working so hard. I'm excited for the end of the season to come and see how every one's hard work has paid off at Championships. Coming back to the snow banks and trekking across the tundra that is the 300's field has been a lot to get used to. This weekend it was so nice to see familiar faces around campus and to reunite with my roommates and friends again.

Today marks the first day of classes for my 8th and final semester at Saint Michael's. Last semester was ridiculously busy, but I'm hoping to balance my activities a little more this semester and find some time for some last semester fun :). I'm taking my senior seminar for my English major, Global Communication, Digital Literacy (an awesome English class I'm really looking forward to), and I'm continuing my Social Media internship with the Marketing and Communication Department. I'll also hopefully be volunteering once a week at the Chittenden Valley Head Start pre-school program. This time last year, I'd be living the dream studying abroad in Galway. I miss Ireland so much and I'm counting down the days I can travel back there!

I'll be updating lots this semester with my upcoming job search (EEEK!), and all of my adventures. I'll also have some weekly interviews and event posts as well, so be sure to check back. Talk to you all soon!