February 2011


Over the past year, OCBL has been providing Diversity Trainings for CBL courses based on an exercise from Intercultural Affairs. We would love your feedback about your experience in the activity. Please comment and tell us what you thought of the exercise and what you gained from it.

We look forward to hearing about your experiences!

 

Community-Based Learning…Internationally!

I’ll introduce myself since I’m new to the CBL blog. My name is Tracy Denholm and I’m a sophomore from Akron, Ohio. I’m an International Studies and Political Science double major and I’m a HOPE student leader, I’m on the rugby team, I am a co-founder of African Service Project, I’m a member of the Mindful Living Community, and I’m the winner of “Best Formal Wear” at the Mr. Stonehill competition (Hello ladies, how are you? Fantastic). I came to college because I love learning and my goal in life is to save the world and you’ve got to start somewhere! Corey and Kate were also kind enough to hire me to work here, so thank you both dearly (shoutout to Pat and Stacy too).

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunities to travel to Ghana and Nicaragua in the past two years and have incredible experiences involving different communities in each location. These journeys have had a profound effect on my life and have called me to become involved with an organization called Friends of Students for 60,000 in order to aid in the construction of a unique domestic and international community. Currently, there exists a community in Nicaragua called Chacraseca that has began to pull itself from poverty through charitably funded projects such as home construction for homeless families (one of which I helped build myself), a clean water project that was completed in 2009, a professional style baseball field (their national sport), and a library and community center just to name a few.

The goal of this organization is to help the people in Chacraseca help themselves so they will no longer need outside aid; this being the ultimate goal of any development project. However, Friends of Students for 60,000 takes a more unique approach to development by expanding this sort of project into a village near Cuzco, Peru (I’ll be heading there this summer), Moree, Ghana (I’m working on this one heavily as we speak), and there are whispers about potentially Haiti. The eventual and crucial goal of the organization is not only to help all of these communities out of their current impoverished situations, but to empower them to help each other at an international level. The plan is to gain funding to send community leaders from each site to visit one another in person to brainstorm, network, and physically aid one another in breaking the cycle of poverty; thus a sort of horizontal development.

This horizontal development goal fosters not only a domestic community where empowered communities can branch out to aid their own neighbors, but also, a globalized community. This globalized community seeks to create understanding and communication between impoverished communities around the world who previously would have had little to no access to one another. Think about it, how many Americans who are privileged enough to travel actually have experienced the sort of poverty in 3rd world nations; while they more than likely exist, the majority of us haven’t. By having members of these 3rd world communities travel to aid one another, the project creates a community based learning environment that is rarely seen at any level. So, if you’re interested in being involved, let us know!

Tracy Denholm ’13
International Studies/Political Science
CBL Work Study Student
jdenholm@students.stonehill.edu

I had always volunteered during high school and that was something I knew I wanted to continue when I arrived at college.  Stonehill seemed like a place where altruistic students devote a lot of their time to help out with the surrounding community.  During fall orientation, Stonehill dedicates one day to program known as Into the Streets Day. The first year students go perform community service with their Orientation Group. Into the Streets Day was my first experience where Stonehill showed its attachment to the local community. The college makes a point to expose us to volunteer opportunities early on and transported students to a variety of sites.  On my ITS Day we went to a organization known as Career Works in Brockton that educates people on various job opportunities in the area and prepares them with skills that will help them upon entrance into the workforce.  They informed us of their mission and we got to tour the office to see the inner workings of the NGO.   It was a great opportunity to see the how this Non-Profit functions.

A few weeks in to school, I had seen a Listserv asking for student interest in the Big Brother/ Big Sister Teen program.  I had never worked with this age range before so I was a little hesitant at first, but decided it would be a good experience regardless.  Most of the program was just familiarizing us with the teen males.    Another student and I would go weekly to The Boys & Girls Club Teen Center to play different games with the young men. They were all unique and talented individuals that really warmed up to us after a few visits. Despite having family in the area, I was not particularly acquainted with the city of Brockton. I think, generally speaking, there is a sense of disconnect between Stonehill students and the city. There are some negative associations surrounding the area and they are often dispelled once students spend time exploring. I never felt unsafe on my weekly trips to the Teen Center and I think that most people assume that traveling into the area puts them in a vulnerable situation. The more involved students become, the quicker these assumptions will be dispelled. I enjoyed my time in Brockton and the toughest challenge we faced was the inconsistency with the adolescents participating in the program (through no fault of their own). Since they were living in temporary housing, we did not get to bond with them quite as much as I would have hoped. Overall, I am very glad I participated in the program.

I am also quite involved in the community here at Stonehill. I am somewhat of an “unofficial member” of the Mindful Living community and I participate in several clubs around campus. I have been involved in a few of the Campus Clean-Up days, which have been quite successful and Facilities has been a good resource for our endeavors. Overall, my experience over this last semester has been full of options for volunteering. I feel like it was a natural progression for me to end up in the office of CBL. After exploring some of the opportunities in the area, I feel like I am ready to start some of the community-organizing efforts. I am unfamiliar with this aspect of service work, but I look forward to seeing exactly how to coordinate different programs.

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Gregory Szczesuil is a freshman work study student looking to declare an Interdisciplinary major that will be focused on Sociology and Political Science. In addition to working in the CBL office, he works at the MacPhaidin library at the Circulation Desk.