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!