CCE Blog Archives 2013

2013 Archives

What’s Trending Today

Today is Tuesday, December 3, 2013. You may have noticed the #GivingTuesday showing up a few times as you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or tweets on Twitter.

I know that I have never heard of this phenomenon until checking my Facebook this morning and seeing it everywhere. So what is #GivingTuesday?

According to http://community.givingtuesday.org/Page/FAQ, this is the second annual #GivingTuesday event. It is a “movement to create a national day of giving to kick of the giving season.” The reason that it is called “Giving Tuesday” is because it was intended to be on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The mission of the #GivingTuesday campaign is to “create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.”

The website also lists some ideas for students of things they can do on #GivingTuesday, here are some of the ideas:

  • Use social media to highlight a cause that interests you and encourage other students to take action to support something that they care about
  • Organize a clothing or book drive or another on-campus giving activity on your campus
  • Engage professors and start a discussion about philanthropy and volunteerism, and what students would like to see more of campus related to giving.

You can also check out what people are doing around the world for #GivingTuesday on Facebook and Twitter.

This is definitely one trend worth checking out!

Day of Giving!

This month, ECSU volunteers have spent their weekends collecting cans and raising money for local soup kitchens and pantries. This has all led up to the Day of Giving! The Day of Giving is a community celebration where members from the Willimantic Community can come and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast together. It is a great time of laughter, joy and thankfulness as community members, who may not have ever interacted before, have the opportunity to share a meal.

This is the 7th Annual Day of Giving event and it is expected to accommodate more people than ever! If you’re in the Willimantic area, be sure to stop by!

Shack-A-Thon

Tuesday, November 19th-Wednesday, November 20th – The wind blew, sending a chill down the backs of ECSU college students as they made their way quickly to class. It was a high of 47 degrees during the day and a low of 31 degrees once the sun disappeared in the evening. Still, Habitat for Humanity Club members embraced the cold as they made their way to the center of Webb Lawn, carting large cardboard boxes behind them. There they started creating what would become their home for the next 30 straight hours, only going inside for class and to use the restroom.

The Shack-A-Thon is an event run by Habitat for Humanity in order to raise awareness for sub standardized housing. Members got to experience what it is like to live like a person who is unable to afford a place to call “home.” Club members had to raise $100 in order to participate.

Freshmen Habitat for Humanity members, Sam Walter, Kaley K. and Alex Hoffman and sophomore, Kevin Powel, participated in this event for the first time. They collected their boxes at noon on Tuesday and had already been outside for nearly seven hours. They mentioned how “blessed they were to have a dorm with heat.” They also said that this experience really made them appreciate all the little things that they had so often taken for granted in the past such as their backpacks, sleeping bags and even their name brand clothing. Despite everything they had with them for this event, they were still cold and this made them think about what it must be like for people who do not even have a warm coat or gloves.

Eastern students and staff were encouraged to donate money or they could also make a donation in food for the Shack-A-Thon participants to eat. For every donation that was made during those 30 hours, the contributor could nail a paper brick to a plywood cutout of a house.

In the end, the ECSU Habitat for Humanity club was able to collect a total of $1,750. The participants were able to persevere through freezing temperatures and wind capable of blowing their structures away in order to support a great cause.

Oxfam America

Posted By: Nicolle Hill

Some of you may have had the opportunity to attend the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet that took place yesterday, or maybe you have attended a Hunger Banquet in the past.

The Hunger Banquet is a powerful event that allows people to experience the inequality of food distribution that occurs around the world. I remember at my first Hunger Banquet, sitting on the floor with a handful of rice, being moved to tears by experiencing poverty at a level that millions of people are subjected to. They say that 1 out of every 7 people goes to bed hungry. This statistic really hit home for me because I have 7 people in my own family. I remember thinking: What if this was one of my own family members having that small amount of food to eat on a daily basis? And I knew right then that this issue was going to become very important to me.

Oxfam America is a “global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger and injustice.” Their vision: A just world without poverty. Their mission: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice.Instead of just providing charity to poor people, Oxfam works on empowering people and communities through creating sustainable solutions that will last.

One of their big campaigns is the GROW Campaign. The mission of this Campaign is to “build a better food system: one that sustainably feeds a growing population and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive.”

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Oxfam America, you can visit their website: www.oxfamamerica.org.

If you want to get more involved in Oxfam America, you can check out their CHANGE program at http://www.oxfamamerica.org/whatyoucando/take-action/student-action/change.
The CHANGE Program is a student leadership program that “develops capable leaders, who are informed voices for positive social change, and who inspire greater global awareness in others.” As a CHANGE Leader, you become more informed about issues surrounding poverty, hunger and injustice and learn how to spread awareness and activism about these issues on your campus.

As a CHANGE Leader Alumni, I can say that this was an amazing experience that taught me a lot. Not only that, but you get to meet college students from all over the U.S. who are just as passionate as you about creating change.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the CHANGE Program, feel free to contact me at hilln@my.easternct.edu and I would love to tell you about my own experience!

Puentes Al Futuro

Check out the awesome things that the Puentes Al Futuro community program has been up to!

What is Puentes Al Futuro?

  • Puentes Al Futuro, also known as Bridges to the Future, is an afterschool program for middle and high school students.
  • The goal of the program is to provide a fun and enriching atmosphere for English Language Leaners while giving college students an opportunity to work with learners and gain a lifetime experience.
  • It also provides a mutual understanding of cultural competence, learning new skills and patience for both students and the volunteers.

Lily Egan, a CCE student leader for the middle school Puentes Al Futuro program, shares some of her experience with the kids. “Part of my job title is to teach them hip-hop on Wednesdays which includes fun filled games, stretching and other choreographing a hip hop dance that they will be performing in front of family and friends.” These students will have the opportunity to share their new dance skills with their family and friends on Wednesday, December 4.

The middle school Puentes Al Futuro program focuses on activates such as art, homework help, science, percussion and hip-hop dance. The high school Puentes Al Futuro program focuses on activities such as hip-hop poetry, hip-hop dance, computer skills, art and life skills, math and language arts.

The program offers young students an opportunity to work in a positive, fun environment while getting to know both students their own age and Eastern students that serve as great mentors.

Homelessness in CT

This is the second part of a two part series leading up to the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week that is taking place November 18-23. Last week was on hunger in Connecticut; this week will be featuring the issue of homelessness.

As the days get colder and darker, the issue of homelessness becomes an urgent matter.

According to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’ article titled “Portraits of Homelessness in Connecticut,” the state’s emergency shelters served 11,700 people, 1,500 of them being children (Portraits, 1).

The factors that they list as contributing factors to homelessness include (Portraits, 1):

  • Inadequate Income: “homeless families typically have extremely low incomes under 50% of the poverty level” (p. 1).
  • High Costs of Housing: In 2010, CT had the 5th highest cost of living in the U.S. and about 80% of poor households in CT are weighed down by housing costs with 50% of their paycheck or more going towards rent.
  • Interpersonal Violence: 40% of CT adults in families said that domestic violence contributed to their homelessness.
  • Disability Health Conditions: this factor is on the rise as more and more adults are diagnosed with medical and psychological conditions
  • Re-entry and Criminal Justice Involvement

In 2010, CT had 24 emergency shelters for homeless individuals, 10 for homeless families and 18 that serve a mixed population of both families and individuals (p. 3).

If you would like to read more about Homelessness in CT from this article, you can find it at: http://www.cfgnh.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Public/giveANDlearn-reports/HOMELESSNESS-portraits_full.pdf

Habitat for Humanity

Posted By: Nicolle Hill

Last week I had the opportunity to talk to Jessica Wagner, the Public Relations officer of the ECSU Habitat for Humanity club. Jessica is only a freshman at Eastern this year, but she believes so much in the mission of Habitat for Humanity, that she was made the PR officer earlier in the semester and has become really involved in the activities that the club participates in.

The mission statement of the ECSU Habitat for Humanity Club is as followed: “To increase awareness of sub-standard housing on campus and in the community. We also help to eradicate this issue with Windham and New London affiliate. Members can benefit from Gaining Community Service Hours, Learning Construction Skills, Traveling Around the Country, Enhancing Their Resume, Meeting New Friends, Getting More Involved In The University’s Community and Helping Families Get Out of Poverty Housing” (http://www.easternct.edu/studentactivities/clubs_orgs/habitat.htm).

Jessica told me a lot about the two big events that Habitat is putting on during Eastern’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 18-23).
The first event, an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, is going to be on Monday, November 18. People Helping People (PHP) is also helping out with the event. If you have never been to a Hunger Banquet, then I would definitely encourage you to attend this event. The premise of the Hunger Banquet is better left a surprise, but what I can tell you is to go to Niejadlik Hall at 7pm and come hungry.

The second event, the annual Shack-A-Thon, is going to be from November 19th-20th on Webb Lawn. At this event you can “see your fellow ECSU students live and sleep in boxes for 30 hours straight to help raise awareness for substandard housing.” Habitat club members raise $100 to sleep in boxes for a night on campus. The money goes to the Windham Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Curious about how you can become a Habitat for Humanity Club Member? You can attend their meetings on Mondays at 7:30pm in Room 219 in the Student Center. If you want to find out more about their club you can e-mail them at habitatforhumanity@my.easternct.edu. You can also like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter @ECSUHabitat.

I asked Jessica why she thought Eastern Students should get involved in Habitat. She said that is was a “good way to meet new people, you get to go to different places and it is a great way to help in the community.”

Impact…

Ever wonder if you are actually making an impact? Or if what you’re doing is really making a difference?

Dillon Melady, a CCE student leader, shares a story about the Recess Program that started last week.

Dillon and a group of student volunteers met 3rd grade students outside during their Recess time. Instead of being shy and avoiding these older, bigger college students, these 3rd graders let their curiosity get the best of them as they introduced themselves and got right to the point that they wanted to play. It ended up being a great time of playing kickball and jumping rope!

The second time that they went, all the kids remembered the volunteers and were so excited to see that they had come back! The 3rd graders were not the only ones happy to see the Eastern volunteers; the teachers also told Dillon “how grateful they were for the volunteers to be there as positive role models.” One student told Dillon about his plans about going to Eastern one day.

Student volunteers…what you are doing DOES matter! It is making a difference! No matter how small and even if you do not see it right away, you are making an impact.

Social Work Club and the Adopt a Family Project

Eastern Connecticut State University has some pretty amazing clubs who do some awesome things for the community. For example, the Social Work Club has been working on the Adopt a Family Project for the second year in a row. Chaneil Beckford, President of the Social Work Club, gives a description of what the Adopt a Family Project is.

Last Year the former Social Work club President Judy-Ann McDuffus thought it would be helpful to offer our services and time by giving back to the community by adopting a family. Last year was the first time our club got involved with Windham Area Inter Faith Ministries Adopt a family project, intended to help low income families experience and enjoy a Christmas.

We had over ten fundraisers and did over 121 hours of fundraising and we were able to make over $800 in which used to help five local families. We asked for donations and held several bakes sales to allocate the money, we were able to purchase thirty gifts for the five families including; toys, blankets, infant clothing, scarf and Wal-Mart gift cards for food.

This year we would like to continue to extend our assistance to other families and work towards helping them to also enjoy Christmas with our dedication and effort. It was truly a rewarding experience the first time we helped families that we felt pleased to help again this year.

We have already begun the bake sale fundraisers and we have been requesting other forms of donations, we intend to deliver the gift to the families on December 6th 2013.

This year we hope to not only provide these families with gifts we would like to provide them with hope, that there still are people willing and motivated to make a difference in their lives.

Grow Windham

Kyrstin Marien, a student at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been working hard this semester with a community organization called Grow Windham. Grow Windham is “a collaboration of community partners dedicated to promoting healthy food in the Windham region through support of community gardens, food projects, and food- and garden-based youth programming and engagement” (www.growwindham.org).

For Kyrstin, her involvement in Grow Windham started with an assignment for her Geography of Food class where she has to do a total of 15 hours of community service throughout the semester. This led her to Max Goto, the Center for Community Engagement’s AmeriCorps VISTA and event coordinator. Max was able to match Kyrstin’s interests in the topics of health and nutrition, with a community organization and it has turned out to be a perfect fit!

Kyrstin believes that GROW Windham is a “fantastic program.” She describes it as an organization that is serving Windham by working on the food issues that the town is facing. She says that they are “very active in the community and the community gardens”, and what makes them such a great program is the fact that they “engage the community in whatever project they are working on”. They are involved with the Food Coop and have programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels. “Everyone I have worked with is so passionate which makes me passionate about it!”

Through this organization, Kyrstin has helped out at the Lauter Park community garden on Fridays with other student volunteers from both Eastern and UCONN. She has also helped out with the Windham Farmer’s Market with a group of students from Windham High School. For the Farmer’s Market, she has to be there at 7am! Although this is early, Kyrstin says that the high school kids still have fun and they really enjoy what they are doing. All the food they sell at the market comes from the community gardens and everything that does not sell goes directly to the soup kitchen.

The high school program started off as a summer program and is now an after school type program. With the time Kyrstin has spent with these students, she has noticed huge, positive changes in them. Kyrstin likes the fact that GROW Windham is “targeting students and creating a positive healthy lifestyle at a young age.” This program not only encourages kids to choose healthier food options, but it gives them the reasons as to why this is important.

If you are interested in reading more about GROW Windham and their programs, you can visit www.growwindham.org.

Make a Difference Day

What are you up to this weekend? Well, if you don’t have any plans yet, you should know that on Saturday, October 26th, it is Make a Difference Day.

What is Make a Difference Day?

“The stories told around Make a Difference Day show that anyone – regardless of age, location or resources – can accomplish amazing things when they take on the problems they see in their community” (http://makeadifferenceday.com/about-make-difference-day)

As a stressed, always busy, stay-up-all-night-sleep-all-day college student, it can be really hard to find time to volunteer! However, it is ten times easier when volunteering becomes a time to work with friends, make new connections in the community and about finding those opportunities that provide the skills needed for your career.

That is why this weekend, on Make a Difference Day, the largest national community service day in the U.S., I am encouraging you to get a group of your friends together and do something positive for the community. If you cannot find a community project for this weekend, don’t let that stop you or discourage you. Do some research with your friends on possible ideas of service projects you could do. Talk to your R.As, your club e-board members, the staff at the Center for Community Engagement. There is an unlimited number of resources you can use to get connected with the community.

Sometimes making a difference is as simple as inviting someone on your floor who has been feeling homesick out with you and your friends, taking a trip to the grocery store and buying groceries to donate to the soup kitchen, or even taking the time to check out some of the local businesses and supporting them by purchasing something.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, send your photos and stories to the CCE, we want to know about what you are doing to make a positive difference and share what you are doing with the Eastern Community!

Goals Goals Goals!

Monday, September 30, 2013

We want to know: what are YOUR goals for this fall semester? What is it that you want to get out of your time serving the community either through a community program, special event or service club?

Goals are important to set for us. They can help up look beyond community service as just a way to fulfill a class assignment, a club obligation or even just serving for the fun of it (not that these are bad things!). Instead, goals help us look at what we are hoping to accomplish and the skills we hope to gain.

Are you hoping to gain teaching skills, learn more about nutrition, learn how to bond with high school students, obtain better public speaking abilities? There are an endless number of goal possibilities! Take a minute to really think about it.

Now that you have taken a moment to really think about your goals for this semester, you can start to make a plan. What community service events, clubs, or services are available to help you achieve those goals? If you already have an event or program that you are involved in, how can your goals become a part of your time serving there? Is there a way that the CCE can better help you achieve those goals? If so, let us know! Comment below, visit our Facebook page (Eastern CT-Community Engagement) or e-mail us!

Sometimes we go out in the community with the intent of helping others, when what happens is the community ends up helping us figure out who we are and what we want to be.

“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others”

Posted by CCE Student Leader

What’s the difference between a community program and a special event?

A community program is a long term program that usually meets once a week throughout the semester. Volunteers have a greater opportunity to develop and utilize professional skills, make sustainable impact in our society, and create long-lasting relationships.

A special event are larger volunteer opportunities dealing with larger populations or community issues at one-time. These events require a higher presence of Eastern volunteers on the day of the event.

What type of community programs are available this semester? Is it too late to sign up?

It is not too late to sign up for a community program but you should contact the CCE at cce@easternct.edu as soon as possible if this is something that interests you!

Here are the community programs available:

Tutoring and Mentoring with: Natchaug, North Windham, Sweeney and Windham Center Elementary Schools, Windham Middle School, Windham High School, Natchaug Elementary School Recess Program, Sister to Sister, Brother to Brother, Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future, Journey House, Junior Achievement, Project K.B.A. (Kids, Books and Athletics), Project Academic Advancement, Collegiate Health Service Corps

Elderly and Special Populations: St. Joseph’s Living Center, Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center, Food Justice Committee/Eastern Community Education Garden

Be on the look out for the special events that are happening throughout the semester!

I also heard about this thing called an Alternative Break, what’s that?

An Alternative Break trip provides Eastern students the opportunity to serve communities outside of our own while learning about other social groups and community systems.

If you are interested in leading or participating in an Alternative Break trip, contact the CCE!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

“The ones who are crazy enough think they can change the world are the ones that do.” ~Gandhi

We are half way through September! I am sure by now you have come across your first paper to write, your first quiz to take, maybe even your first exam to study for.

Before you start making a to-do list of everything you have to catch up on, take a moment to think about what you are passionate about. Why are you majoring in that particular field of study? What is it that you love to do?

The Center for Community Engagement is here to provide ways for you to use your passions to help others. You can find some amazing community programs and special events happening this semester by visiting the CCE website www.easternct.edu/cce or visiting the CCE at its new location, 333 Prospect Street.

This week, there will also be an opportunity for you to talk to CCE staff and community members in person. Where you ask? At the…

Keep Calm and Volunteer On

Jacqui De Cormier, AmeriCorps*VISTA
Thursday, September 5, 2013

We have had a hectic beginning of September. With our Warrior Welcome Service Project, move to a new location (333 Prospect St., the beautiful big yellow Victorian house right by Nutmeg), and our Service Fair (Sept. 10) coming up, and beginning to plan for all of Community Programs, Special Events, and Alternative Break Trips, we have been going non-stop.

Many of you who are reading this are Eastern students and are probably feeling overwhelmed with your classes, work load, and the many opportunities that Eastern has to offer through internships, jobs, and leadership opportunities on and off campus.

The last thing you may want to think about right now is that someone may be depending on you to tutor them, provide guidance and mentorship, or need your help to make sure a homeless shelter can operate for someone to have shelter. These responsibilities may seem like an extra burden rather than something fun and you may think you have absolutely positively no time in your schedule to take them on.

Take a step back now from all of the chaos and work that comes with being a college student. Think about what it is like to tutor a child or play a sport with a high school student and show them that its cool to play by the rules. Think about how that one moment can impact that person for the rest of their life.

Walking into the CCE, you may feel uncertain about what you want to do or how you will ever fit volunteering into your schedule. But that’s why we’re here! Our jobs revolve around finding opportunities that match your passion or helping you explore careers or general volunteer opportunities that you’re curious to learn more about. We offer Community Programs, Alternative Break Trips, and Special Events so that there is enough variety for anyone to get involved.

You can find us at 333 Prospect St. (a.k.a. the aforementioned big beautiful yellow Victorian house right by Nutmeg Hall) or contact us at cce@easternct.edu. You can also give us a call at 860-465-0090.

We look forward to meeting you this year!

What is “Meaningful Service”?

Jacqui De Cormier, AmeriCorps*VISTA
Thursday, August 29, 2013

We all know that volunteering is a lot of fun. But when you start getting into the deeper meaning of why you volunteer, and what it means to you to be a volunteer, the awareness of your impact on the life of someone else can be astounding.

Everyone wants to feel good about themselves. When you go to a soup kitchen to dish out lunch for an afternoon or tutor a kid for an evening you can expect to walk away feeling pretty happy about how you just spent your time.

Yet, if you continued to do go back to the soup kitchen or tutor on a regular basis, would your level of happiness change from what it would have been if you only went once? Would you see a more profound change for the better if you invested more time?

These are questions we grapple with as volunteer coordinators and volunteer project planners. How can we help you connect with an organization, issue, or project that you find meaningful and worth your time?

We can’t answer that question without defining what meaningful service is. Now, there really is no wrong answer. In the end it boils down to you feeling the work you do is significant and has a positive and important impact on the person, populations, or cause you are working with. It is sharing a part of yourself, either through a skill or passion, with another person for a mutual good.

As a volunteer coordinator, I strive to connect people who want to volunteer with opportunities that will have a lasting impression; opportunities that may not have been possible without the volunteer’s help.

The beautiful thing about meaningful volunteering is that it benefits both the volunteer and the person/cause/organization that the volunteer is supporting. Both parties learn and grow from the experience. A bond is formed and a sense of camaraderie or trust is established that develops into caring. It is the fact that we care for one another that gives us our support system. As humans, we are social creatures who generally thrive with support structures helping to motivate and look out for us. When someone volunteers, and continues to volunteer, they unlock the potential for strengthening their support system and being invited into that of another person.

Loosely, that is how I define meaningful service. It is where I see the true power of volunteering lies.

Easy Ways to Volunteer When You Aren’t at Eastern

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One of the most challenging parts about becoming a volunteer is finding an organization you want volunteer for with a position you want to volunteer in. At Eastern, and many other colleges and universities, there is an office set up to serve as a bridge and connect students directly to volunteer opportunities in the community.

But what happens when you leave for winter or Summer Break and move away from your collegiate community back to your hometown and you don’t have a volunteer connection in place? Or what do you do when you graduate, move somewhere new, and want to find a way to get involved with your new town?

It can be overwhelming. Nonprofit staff are unfortunately known for being so busy that they sometimes neglect an inquiry from a potential volunteer. Many nonprofits websites
Here’s our cheat sheet of how to find the right volunteer opportunity for you!

  • Sit down with yourself and figure out what you really want to get from volunteering. Do you want to help in a specific position or is there are specific cause you are passionate about and you don’t care what you are doing as long as you supporting it?
  • Contact organizations that can suggest local nonprofits who are in need of volunteers. Examples include a university or college equivalent of the CCE, a religious institution such as a church or synagogue, or United Way
  • Follow up on the organizations and opportunities that are suggested to you. Talk with the volunteer coordinator of the site and ask for questions and details about what you’ll be doing.
  • Go for what excites you!

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Nicolle, CCE Intern

I have found that the best way to make the most of my college years is through getting involved in volunteer opportunities, clubs and internships. Sure, going to class is important, that paper really should be written and that group project should be worked on before the last minute, but these things should not consume your entire time in college.

Although it can be tempting to spend all your time on these things, especially as the homework assignments pile up and there is a test in every class this week, sometimes it best to look above that pile of work and see what else there is out there. In fact, taking part in extracurricular opportunities allows you to build on what you are learning in the classroom making it so the information becomes alive and tangible instead of just words on a page.

Throughout this blog, one can see the various different kinds of experiences that the Center for Community Engagement at Eastern offers. There are education volunteer opportunities for those who are majoring in education. There are tutoring positions for math, science, reading and many others. Working in community gardens is a great chance for environmental earth science majors to apply what they are learning in class to help improve the effectiveness of the garden.

Don’t think, however, that you have to choose only opportunities that are close to your major. You may find yourself discovering something you did not know you enjoyed or maybe you find that the experience was not the best. The important thing is that you are finding out what you enjoy, what you dislike, what you are terrible at and what you are really good at before you have to step out into the “real world.”

Building relationships is another important aspect of getting involved in activities outside of schoolwork. Some find that they find friendships that last a lifetime through shared volunteer, internship and club experiences. I met one of my closest friends through my involvement with People Helping People (PHP) freshman year. You just never know who you will meet and where that relationship will lead you.

One last piece of advice: do not be afraid to step out of the crowd and do something different than what everyone else is doing. Doing something outside of the box is what makes your experience unique from everyone else’s and if anything, it will give you an interesting story to tell.

The Best Teacher in America?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rafe Esquith has been deemed to be one of, if not the best teacher in America. No one can doubt that his work with 5th graders at a California inner city school is amazing. Just search him on Google, NPR, Ted Talks, and the Washington Post to see his full list of credentials and accomplishments.

For certain, he is not the only teacher with a mindset of teaching with trust rather than fear, with creating a safe space rather than a classroom full of stress and unattainable demands.

But what he does have, unlike many other teachers, is a voice. With award winning books and national news doing written pieces or interviewing him on segments of their shows, he is able to share his tips and thoughts about why his classroom works so well.

He is honest that it takes a lot of hard work, time, and dedication. He emphasizes consistency and has honed an envious ability to meet his students where they are at, and challenge them so they grow.

For any aspiring teacher, he is a professional worth listening to and learning from.

What I Look Forward To When I Volunteer

Friday, July 26, 2013
Guest Post: Jeannine, ’15

The first night that I went to Lyon Manor, I expected to have a much different experience than I did. When I heard the words ‘independent living center’, I expected the residents to need much more assistance. I did not think that it would be so laid back and I did not realize that the residents would be able to go and come as they please. I did not expect to terribly lose a game of chess against one resident. I did not expect to laugh so hard that I cried. And I certainly did not expect to form a friendship that I hold that close to my heart.

Every Tuesday I look forward to going to Lyon Manor. I have a friend who lives there named Joanne. She has a hard exterior and is not usually very happy. But this past year, she and I have become so close. Every week I bring a craft for the residents and Eastern students to do together, whenever I ask Joanne to work with me on one, she refuses because of her arthritis. At Christmas time, I brought supplies so that the residents could make cards for their families. This was one of the few times that Joanne agreed to do the craft; she made me a card, with a long poem about how much she loves me. Joanne makes such an impact on my life; I cannot imagine my life without her or any of the other residents at Lyon Manor.

Recently, I went to the Impact conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is an annual conference about community engagement and social justice. There I was inspired to find more ways to make our time at Lyon Manor more engaging for the residents as well as the volunteers. I plan to pair up similar students and residents to create a one-on-one friendship. We will spend the first part of our time there one-on-one with our friends and the second part as a whole group. I am hoping that this will make volunteers want to return every week to spend time with their friends! During the fall 2013, we will be visiting Lyon Manor on Wednesday evenings. If you are interested e-mail: gemmaj@my.easternct.edu.

Eastern’s Community Education Garden Grows!

Guest post: Bryan, ’15

Over the past three months students, faculty, and community members have been growing fruits and vegetables for the local soup kitchen at Eastern’s Community Education Garden. Inside its white picket fence on High Street, one can find waist-high potato plants, a variety of heirloom tomatoes, sugar peas, pole beans, and strawberries. Carrot and corn shoots are beginning to peep up out of the soil. Beets, onions, and garlic are nearing a foot in height.

Recently interns from the Institute of Sustainable Energy planted watermelon. Jalapeno peppers were put in the soil with the help of Windham High School students. Sweet herbs from the Willimantic Farmer’s Market, stevia, and chocolate mint mark off the tea corner. A multifarious band of volunteers from the Eastern community come to help out: biology professors, athletic trainers, resident assistants, and librarians. This week a Visitor’s Welcome sign is being installed to invite anyone who wishes to come in and have a look around.

More Than A Dress

By: Lauren, Intern

The day every girl dreams of (second to their wedding) is their prom. They wonder how they will be asked, who they will go with and of course, what they will wear. I truly believe the confidence a girl has will either make or break her night. An outfit a girl feels proud to wear can add to her confidence. The unfortunate truth, though, is that some girls can’t afford the dress of their dreams, and some cannot afford a dress at all.

This is an issue I am extremely passionate about. In high school each senior was required to choose a mentor and complete a project of their choice. The goal of the project was to do something you have never done before, and for me, organizing a volunteer project was a completely new experience. With the help of my Principle who was my mentor for the project and a fashionista herself, I had girls from the entire school drop dresses off to the front desk in the office and slowly started to create a “Prom Closet”.

Once the closet was nearly full I put reminders on the morning announcements that I would be sitting at the closet during my lunch and after school so girls could come in “just to look” or to find a dress. It was a great feeling to see girls try on that perfect dress that just happened to fit like a glove with no needed alterations. I know my small act of kindness impacted these girls’ lives and everytime they see those dresses hanging in their closet they will remember the time they danced the night away at prom and had the time of their lives.

The most rewarding part of this project was when, my mother and I, years later, were eating dinner at a local restaurant when one of my high school teachers approached our table and informed us that she and another teacher kept the closet going after I graduated. It felt great to know I left this legacy at my high school and created a project that girls will continue to benefit from for years on end.

If you’d like to donate your old dress and you’re in the CT area contact http://waimct.org/ to find out how. If you are not in the CT there are dozens of organizations such as http://donatemydress.org and http://fairygodmothers.org among many others.

And think about how you can create a legacy here at Eastern. If you are passionate about supporting your community, contact the CCE at cce@easternct.edu to see how you can get involved.

Does Advertising Promote Inequality?

By: Lauren, Intern

Everywhere you look advertising is telling us how we should look, dress, and act. Driving down the highway you see billboards, checking your Facebook you see side ads, and watching your favorite sitcom you encounter dozens of commercials. Although the products they are advertising are different, the message behind them seems to be the same.

After viewing a short film called ‘Killing Us Softly’ in a Social Inequality course here at Eastern Connecticut State University, I became much more aware, and offended, by the fact that women in advertising are used as sexual objects and second class citizens. In the film, Jean Kilbourne shares her passion and analytical view on advertisements specifically those featuring women. Jean’s funny and witty nature captivates the audience so she can truly get her point across. Jean says although most of us think we are immune to advertisings effects, we aren’t. She states “The fact is that much of advertising’s power comes from this belief that advertising does not affect us. The most effective kind of propaganda is that which is not recognized as propaganda. Because we think advertising is silly and trivial, we are less on guard, less critical, than we might otherwise be. It’s all in fun, it’s ridiculous. While we’re laughing, sometimes sneering, the commercial does its work.”

Subconsciously these advertisements are telling us that women are unintelligent sexualized objects that are good for pleasing men, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children; ideas that are extremely dated but still shown to us on a daily basis in a way where most people won’t realize or be offended. Think of the last Windex or Swiffer advertisement you saw…who was the main character? My guess is that it was a woman who was cleaning up after her family; correct me if I’m wrong. Then there are the cologne ads which are so sexualized we hardly even know what they are selling. To prove this I Goggled “cologne” and on the first page of results this is what I found…

If I saw this ad in passing I would have absolutely no idea what it was selling. By taking a closer look, yes, technically it does say the cologne is called “Obsession for men” by Calvin Klein, but still how does the photo in this ad correlate to cologne? Maybe if you wear it a gorgeous supermodel will show up naked at your doorstep? This is just one of many examples of how advertising uses and degrades women to nothing more than sexual objects.

It is important for all women and those who support gender equality to make a change. By consuming these ads we are saying that women are less than men, less than human, and not worthy of the same respect of their opposing gender. For ways to make a difference visit http://www.jeankilbourne.com/ for ideas and organizations that challenge destructive media images.

Persuasive Panel

By: Lauren, Intern

On Thursday March 7th, 2013 students filed into the Student Center Theater at Eastern Connecticut State University to listen to the experiences of Post Graduates who joined the Peace Corp, Food Corp, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America. The purpose of this event was to educate students on different full-time service opportunities they can join upon graduating from Eastern in which they will not only bring their skills to meaningful work but will build their resumes. Everyone had their own stories and experiences to share with the audience but one story in particular stood out to me and the majority of the audience. Brianna London served with the Peace Corp abroad. She decided to join the Peace Corp after she graduated college because she wanted to take a break before thinking about going to graduate school but wasn’t ready to enter a full-time office job. After her orientation and training period, Brianna was sent to a remote village in Burkina Faso, Africa where she spent the next two years as the only American in the area. She primarily worked with groups of subsistence farmers and craftspeople to develop new business opportunities. She quickly became a role model for women in the village as she worked with them on confidence building techniques and helped them learn a new trade, soap making. She worked with them to design a quicker more efficient way to prepare food which saved the villagers time and money. Brianna served in every aspect they needed her; some days she was a nurse, a chef, a financial advisor, or sometimes just a friend. Over the two years she was there Brianna learned the native language and made a huge impact in the economy of the village. As much as the villagers learned from her, she learned as much from them. She had to embrace a culture entirely different than her own and the people of the village tried to help her make that transition as smoothly as possible. Brianna now hopes to return to the village and is studying new ways to help them develop their economy. After the Panel, Brianna was surrounded by students who wanted to know more about her story. The bravery it took to move to another country with no knowledge of the area or language and have that big of an impact is something we can all admire and hope to achieve one day. I, like many of the audience, came to learn how to further our careers, but what we took away from it is that we can all do something as brave as Brianna and have amazing experience as well.

26 Acts of Kindness

By: Lauren, Intern
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

26 ACTS OF KINDNESS:
We are excited to be participating in 26 Acts of Kindness for the Month of February. We already have students sharing their kind acts with us via Facebook and Twitter. Sherry, an ECSU student shared her kind act of returning a lost student ID (view photo left). This is among many kind acts that have already been shared with us including sending cards to sick relatives, bringing in food for coworkers and helping out a sick roommate. We look forward to hopefully many more kind acts to come!

We offer opportunities for kind acts around campus and in our community such as blood drives, tutoring and mentoring children, and benefit events, among many others.

To share your 26 Acts of Kindness visit our Facebook page “ECSU Center for Community Engagement” or Tweet to us @EasternCCE

More postings being added as the archive project is completed.