Student Blogging


Compiled by Work-Study/CBL Student Leader Molly McKitrick

Looking for post-grad service opportunities can be an overwhelming and daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start looking! Here are some popular service programs with diverse opportunities to help you get started on your search! (more…)

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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

Just in time for the holidays, here is the next blog entry from Professor Paradise’s Mediated Communication Theory course.

Cyber-Safety through Media Literacy: Our Experiences and Observations

According to DoSomething.org, nearly 35% of kids have been threatened online and almost one in five have had it happen more than once.  Also noteworthy, cyber-bullying has increased in recent years. In a national survey of 10-17 year olds, twice as many children indicated they had been victims and perpetrators of online harassment in 2005 compared with 2000. With statistics like these, it is of great importance that we educate youth on this growing trend.  As a way to promote awareness about this issue, this week’s lesson plan at Davis Common’s highlighted cyber-bullying and its ramifications.  In order to preface our discussion about cyber-bullying, the first team of media literacy facilitators on Tuesday provided an introduction to the topic by discussing Internet usage and general tips on internet-safety.  On Wednesday, the second team led a workshop on Facebook, one of the most popular social networking sites, and discussed ways to protect one’s privacy by sharing limited personal information.  On Thursday, our team, which I am a member of, focused on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and the issue cyber-bullying, since AIM is one of the key mechanisms through which cyber-bullying often occurs.

This was a popular topic among the Davis Commons youth because they are avid users of AIM.  In fact, most of them talk to each other on AIM while they are in the same computer room at the after-school center!  The goals and objectives of our lesson plan consisted of: (a) encouraging a deeper understanding of what cyber-bullying is (i.e. providing a definition), (b) fostering an awareness of the prevalence of cyber-bullying among youth, and (c) providing a knowledge-base of appropriate actions for the Davis Commons youth to take if and when they encounter cyber-bullying in their own lives.

As noted above, the first order of business was to introduce the topic and define cyber-bullying.  Using a definition crafted by Internet scholars, we explained to the kids that cyber-bullying is when “an individual is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, and embarrassed by another individual using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, or mobile phones.”  Next, we handed out fictional scenarios and the kids had to decide whether or not cyber-bullying had taken place. For example, “Vanessa and Jessica were out at a party.  Vanessa sees Jessica talking to her boyfriend and becomes angry.  That night she goes home and spreads nasty rumors about Jessica on her blog.”  Once the kids evaluated and discussed  all of the prepared scenarios, we divided them into groups and had them come up with their own so that they could illustrate their understanding of cyber-bullying.  To finish the lesson, we passed out a list of tips to deal with cyber-bullying. The tips included: don’t respond, don’t retaliate, save the evidence, talk to a trusted adult, block the bully, be civil, don’t be a bully, and be a friend-not a bystander.

Overall, we felt our lesson plan was successful. At first, the kids had a difficult time defining cyber-bullying and determining whether cyber-bullying had occurred in the scenarios we presented to them. But by the end of the lesson, the Davis Commons students were able to understand and identify cyber-bullying, and more importantly, they were equipped with valuable information regarding how to handle cyber-bullying situations in which they or their friends are victims.

As for the Stonehill students (the “media literacy facilitators”), we love to watch the children make progress each week in becoming more media literate. Also, it’s fascinating to observe what we learn in the classroom unfold and present itself in real life.  In a way, a theory from our Mediated Communication Theory course that somewhat connects to this week’s lesson is “desensitization.”  Desensitization derives from the psychological construct of habituation, the process by which stimuli that are presented repeatedly lose their ability to startle or arouse.  Towards the beginning of our visit, when we asked the kids whether they had been a victim or perpetrator of cyber-bullying, the majority of the Davis Commons youth raised their hand and thought nothing of it.   In other words, since the kids were frequently exposed to this particular type of bullying, they saw it as no big deal and were less sensitive to cyber-bullying.  As such, it is our hope that our lesson plan and discussion “denaturalized” cyber-bullying, and we believe that we made progress toward achieving this goal.

 

Here is the next update on Professor Paradise’s Media Literacy course!

 

“Producing” Media Literate Youth: Reflecting on the Role of Video Production and Student-Created Content

This semester’s Community Based Learning project for my senior Communication capstone has been nothing if not enlightening. I have learned that being a facilitator of media literacy doesn’t mean that the children of Davis Commons are the only ones learning. Our lesson plans reflect college-aged perspectives on media-related topics, but the actual lessons organically change to focus on the issues that surround urban young people. Each week I learn something new about the media’s effect on children and teenagers that I didn’t know about. They have truly taught me as much, if not more, than I have tried to teach them.

Until last week, we had followed structured lesson plans on specific topics, led activities to enhance participation, and video taped our sessions in order to document our visits.  Our visit this week, however, was structured quite differently. We had no actual lesson plan to follow, but rather were instructed by our professor to assist the students in creating a media literacy-themed Public Service Announcement.  In other words, we wanted the students to draw on what they had learned already this semester to create an informative and educational PSA that would not only demonstrate their learning but also enhance their video production skills.  After all, one important aspect of media literacy, according to many media education scholars, is the ability to produce your own mediated messages.

Being the first group to facilitate this video production assignment to Davis Commons, our goal was work with the Davis Commons youth to create a PSA on a media-related topic.  On the car ride over from Stonehill, our group brainstormed possible PSA ideas and thought that addressing Facebook privacy settings might be a great topic. In previous weeks, we had talked with the Davis Commons youth about Facebook in general, and found out that the students could use more training with this website. For example, many of the girls we had talked to had lied about their age in order to get an account.

Therefore, when we arrived at the after-school program, we brought eight interested students into the computer lab to start the creation of the PSA.  The students were excited by the prospect of creating a PSA and were on-board with focusing on the topic of Facebook.  Even though the Stonehill media literacy facilitators had come up with the PSA topic, we really wanted the students at Davis Commons to lead the discussion of Facebook privacy and decide on how the video should be produced. After providing some initial information about the purpose of PSAs and posing some initial questions for the Davis Commons youth to consider, the students really got into the topic and started making a list on the dry erase board of information one shouldn’t share on Facebook.  Essentially, from this information, we created a script to guide the PSA.

Once the script was developed, we started videotaping footage of Davis Commons students asking and answering questions regarding habits surrounding safe Facebook use, especially in regards to privacy issues. The camera was operated by a Davis Commons student as well, so my group of Stonehill facilitators more or less just supervised the video production process. We helped when some of the students had questions or differing views on certain aspects of the production process, but for the most part, the students had a firm grasp of the PSA they sought to create.

After the question and answer portion of the PSA, the after-school students felt it would be a good idea to show the viewer exactly how to change the privacy settings on his/her Facebook account. Thus, the second part of the video was filmed as a Davis Commons student demonstrated on the computer exactly where to go to find the privacy settings, and how to change them.
This lesson in video production was very helpful to the bonding between the Stonehill and Davis Commons students, in part because of the creative, fun, and largely unstructured nature of this assignment.  We weren’t there to lecture, but rather wanted an interactive discussion in which the students had a very important role to play. We trusted them to make a video that really could help other people who weren’t as familiar with Facebook as themselves, and they acted admirably in the effort.  It was great to see the students realize how much they could contribute to media literacy and how their voice, through video production exercises such as these, could be heard; further, I believe it gave them a unique sense of purpose. Production is such an invaluable part of media education, and this lesson taught the students much more than a lecture ever could have. The hands-on, student-centered approach to creating the video was successful, and we look forward to showing the students their final edited PSA product at the end of the semester.

Read what Cassie White, work study student in the CBL office has to say about her experiences with Broadcast Brockton.

Broadcast Brockton

This semester I had the pleasure of working for the Community-Based Learning office as a work study student. I collaborated with a few other students: Michele St Pierre, Megan McCoy, and Molly McKitrick on a project called Broadcast Brockton. It began as an idea from a CBL student, Laura Sidla, which grew into an initiative. The initial thought was produced out of feedback from students who volunteered in Brockton; they didn’t receive much training on diversity issues and were confronted with stereotypes of our neighboring city.

As students, we have each observed different incidents of stereotyping Brockton at Stonehill. Offhand comments about the safety of the city are common. And in general there is a lack of respect among many students for what the city is really like. Yet, outside of volunteering and internships Brockton has a lot to offer. For example, it has a variety of ethnic restaurants, a neat Craft Museum, and even some nice green spaces!

This past semester’s phase of the project focused on compiling information and brainstorming the best ways for its implementation. We were able to meet with numerous people on campus and within the community that proposed some really great ideas.

Next semester we hope to formulate a focus group for interested students, faculty, and administrators to discuss diversity specifically related to Brockton. Another suggestion is to offer a historical tour of Brockton, run by Willy Wilson (a historian and active member of the community).  That way the community is educated about Brockton’s roots, fostering a sense of appreciation. The Bat Bus has been a resource available to students, but seems to rarely be used. (For only a dollar students can go from the edge of campus to downtown!) Advertising these kinds of resources will definitely be part of our project.

One of our main goals is to form inclusive dialogue within Stonehill’s volunteering programs, CBL courses, and student programming. That way the community will begin to recognize the value of Brockton. We look forward to when Brockton and Stonehill are intertwined communities that have a reciprocal relationship built on understanding.

Read the next installment from Professor Paradise’s Mediated Communication Theory course!

Reality Check?

This past week at Davis Commons our media literacy lesson plan focused on the genre of reality television.  As media literacy facilitators, every topic we discuss with the kids, ages 8 through 14, is relevant and important for them to understand.  Our first week of lessons revolved around violence in the media – something the kids had plenty of exposure to. This previous week we shifted gears to reality programming, something they knew a little less about.

Being the first group of the week to go on Tuesday, we got to introduce the topic of reality TV and were able to get a good idea of what the kids knew about it – and what knowledge we could impart on them. Our lesson went well overall. We first had the kids make a list of all the reality TV shows they could think of. I was a bit surprised when they had trouble naming more shows than just the “Jersey Shore.” Many of the kids were throwing out names of talk shows, cartoons, comedies, and hit dramas. We adjusted by asking them what the difference was between shows like the Jersey Shore and America’s Best Dance Crew versus Family Guy and The Tyra Show. Then we went over the four different subgenres of reality television: physical-based competition (ex: Survivor), performance-based competition (ex: American Idol), romantic competition (ex: The Bachelor/Bachelorette), non-fictional (ex: Jersey Shore), and inspirational (ex: Extreme Home Makeover). Using YouTube clips to illustrate each one of these, the kids were able to grasp the concept of reality TV and even generate a more extensive list of shows that they had seen that fall under each of these categories.  We also worked with the students to have them think of ways in which the genre of “reality” TV often fails to reflect reality at all due to scenes being staged, scripted, and over-dramatized.

The most rewarding and fun part of our visits to Davis Commons has definitely been watching the kids use the video camera. After we were done teaching them about reality TV – and how the word reality is truly a misnomer in many cases due to manipulative editing and producing – we asked them if they wanted to come up with their own version of a reality TV show. They quickly sprang into action, deciding who was going to direct each scene, who would get to film, who was starring, and what type of episode they wanted to film. Naturally, there were so many different ideas that we helped them decide on three scenes. The first involved a scripted fight between two boys after one stepped on the others’ sneaker. The second scene was similar, involving drama between three of the girls. After we filmed these scenes, we interviewed the “actors” and “actresses” to ask them just how real each scenario was. For the third scene, the kids tried to include an element of competition-based reality and made a valiant attempt to use the trees outside of Davis Commons as the setting for their version of Survivor.

Overall, the excitement and enthusiasm of the kids (especially when in front of the video camera) is what makes the weekly trips worth it. Knowing that we’re potentially (and hopefully!) affecting their media use in a positive way, well, that’s just one of the benefits that goes along with the process of community-based learning.

This is an article that was written for The Summit, the Stonehill College student newspaper. Carolyn is taking a service-;earning course on leadership and is working to organize Stonehill students to come to the Federal Reserve Meeting in Brockton

Federal Reserve Coming to Brockton

Stonehill Students Help Organize One of Nine National Town Hall Meetings

By Carolyn Powers

cpowers@students.stonehill.edu

On November 1st, 2009 members from the Obama Administration, the Federal Reserve, and Congressman Barney Frank will be hosting one of nine national town hall meetings in Brockton.  Focusing on the current foreclosure crisis sweeping across our nation, this meeting is the only one of its kind being held in the North East.

Thousands of people will be coming from all corners of our northern states to voice their opinions on this matter.  These people have lost their homes, their lives have been turned upside down, and they are finally getting the chance to have our federal government hear them out.

How aware are you about this crisis? Do you know this is going on?

Imagine you have 30 days to get out of your dorm room.  No chance to fight it, you’re out. Reslife won’t listen to your cries, your parents can’t help you, you’re evicted.  What would you do? Where would you go?

For over 3 million families in America, this has become their reality.  A foreclosure epidemic is in full effect.  When Katrina blew through New Orleans, 133,000 families were left homeless.  Hundreds of thousands of people were left to find other places to live across the country.  Now, 30 times that number have been displaced. 

The cause of these evictions stems back to around 2003. Around this time, low-income families began being fed faulty subprime loans.  These loans were distributed by privately owned, non-regulated mortgage companies.  With no necessary background information, or income statement, families were given the opportunity to finally live up to the American dream; they could own their own home.  But there was a catch; hidden in the mountain of paperwork associated with mortgages were hidden fees and plans to increase interest rates. 

This is when the house of cards fell.  Families who had been able to make their payments suddenly were unable to.  It soon became a struggle to pay off their loans and they ultimately couldn’t do it anymore.  To make matters worse, their banks wouldn’t meet with them.  They were simply evicted.

As a result of this our economy has suffered tremendously, millions of jobs have been lost, homelessness has increased, violence is on the rise, the amount of abandoned buildings is overwhelming, health risks have risen, and the list goes on.

The other problem is that this is not just affecting the low-income families; it is affecting you.  As college students here at Stonehill, it is often easy to feel protected by our bubble.  These foreclosures aren’t kicking us out of our dorms; they aren’t making us feel unsafe or unprotected.  But the reality is we are not going to be protected forever.  Someday soon we are all going to graduate, apply for jobs, purchase homes, and do all the things that grownups are supposed to do.  But right now, at the state our economy is in, this is not going to be the easiest task.

We have all heard our parents and older peers tell us how brutal the workforce is right now.  Hearing that it is impossible to get a job these days is not new news.  But what are we doing about this problem?

Here at Stonehill, students have organized with Brockton Interfaith Council to help coordinate one of nine National Town Hall Meetings about the foreclosure crisis.  On November 1st at 6:00pm, members of the Obama Administration, the Federal Reserve, and Congressman Barney Frank will be hosting a meeting open to the public.  Stonehill will be providing transportation for all students who are interested in attending.

By attending this meeting we are showing the Federal Government that we care about these foreclosures and about our future. If we show up in large numbers from this campus we are showing that Stonehill cares.  We want our national leaders to recognize the fact that we care about the decisions they make because these decisions affect us.  It is vital that we make our mark. These foreclosures have evicted over 3 million families and it is time they stop.

If you are interested in attending the meeting on Nov. 1st please contact me at cpowers@students.stonehill.edu or Nicole Carbone at ncarbone@students.stonehill.edu

Carolyn Powers- Class of 2010

Communication Major/ Spanish Minor