2018 Fellow Zachary Baird ’21 developed a Chinese language curriculum for a local pre-school. His colleague Konnor Herbst ’20 conducted outreach work for the Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention and Recovery Initiative, and Germanie Louis ’21 helped staff “Justice League”, a pilot summer enrichment program for at-risk youth in nearby Pittsfield.
(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
“I applied to work with CLiA over the summer because I wanted to get to know the Berkshires that had become my home at Williams. During the school year, it can be hard to get out of the “purple bubble” and into the surrounding areas because of the harsh winters or the burden of classes. However, working with CLiA over the summer was perfect because you are completely unshackled from classes and the cold. The local towns of Pittsfield, North Adams and the little treasures in between have a lot to offer - from hikes, to local culture, to awesome street festivals. During the summer, we really got a sense of what we were missing out on and got a chance to change that. My main project for the summer was multifaceted; I worked a bit for the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, helping to raise awareness about the Opioid epidemic in the area, while spending most afternoons with the Berkshire Food Project, a local soup kitchen. Overall, the experience as an intern with CLiA can vary wildly, and you will find yourself having to think on your feet, all at the same time getting paid to do some good and getting to know the community that you share as a Williams student.”
“This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with CLiA, and it was the best experience I have had on this campus yet. I was able to be acquainted with multiple community leaders and service groups throughout the county over the course of 8 weeks. My peers and I received training in areas that I never even imagined I would have approached: photo editing, web page creating, video filming and editing, and much more. It was amazing to work so closely with Paula and get to know how CLiA runs behind the scenes, and the energy around the work we were doing was infectious. We also were able to meet many college administrators and other amazing people who are important resources on campus. Most importantly, I was able to get to know the community in Pittsfield which is one of the most diverse in the county. While in this position, I was able to meet the lead organizers at Berkshire Interfaith Organizing with whom I recently did a Winter Study Internship.
During the second part of my summer here at Williams, I worked as a mentor at the Justice League Summer Camp. This position allowed me to become familiar with two Williams Alumni who founded the Justice League during their time here at the college. I was able to see how student groups are created, maintained, and expanded. Most importantly, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of amazing middle schoolers who were very passionate about learning about social justice. I learned much more about myself from them than I ever thought I would, so, saying that this experience was life-changing is not an overstatement. My time with CLiA was so fulfilling that it confirmed my thoughts of wanting to go into work serving the community. I now work as the Student Outreach Associate at CLiA in hopes that I can share this sense of fulfillment with other students.”
This video showcasing the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) is the handiwork of 2017 Fellows Chanel Palmer ’19 and Matt Chicoye ’20. Other 2017 Community Outreach Fellows include Rachel Levin ’19, Kellen Hatheway ’19, Jack Melnick ’19 and Shahzad Mumtaz ’19. Rachel, Jack, and Shahzad comment on their experiences, below. For more information on this opportunity, contact any of these Fellows or email CLiA Director Consolini ([email protected]).
(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
“I applied to work with CLiA over the summer because I sought a chance to interact with the Berkshire community that had become my home. Throughout the school year, I tried to get involved in the community, but this summer internship gave me the perfect opportunity. I was able to meet adults and students from around the area and learn more about the region. From hikes to food to street fairs, CLiA showed us everything we were missing out on.
My project for the summer was working with Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College, along with Chanel. We were fortunate to learn about the process of setting up, recording, and actually interviewing a person about their life. The project we were learning about was focused on the NAACP in the Berkshire region, and it was inspiring and moving to hear the stories of those who worked so hard for equality. Chanel and I also got the chance to interview the archivist of Simon’s Rock College, and we discussed methods of archiving, the importance of institutional history, and how to hold onto the past while moving forward. Using this interview, I was able to create a podcast about the process of archiving! I am so thankful for the time I spent with CLiA this summer, and I know I will use the skills I learned in the future.”
"The summer I got to spend with the Center for Learning in Action was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. Paula, Colin, and the rest of the staff have such an electric passion for Berkshire County that you cannot help but get caught up in it. CLiA gave the interns an impressive range of training and exploratory opportunities, ranging from practical video training to traveling around the region sampling food and culture. Getting to spend time on the Williams Campus outside of the rigors of academics and athletics is incredible, and I feel that for the first time I was really able to appreciate every aspect of our beautiful location.
For my main summer project, I worked with Kellen Hatheway on the production of a new application designed to drive tourism and help locals find opportunities to get out of their comfort within Berkshire County. Midway through, the Berkshire Eagle released a similar product called GoBerkshire, so we decided to reach out to them and became advisors on their project. Working closely with the Eagle was a lot of fun, and getting to reach out to people in the community and get opinions on why they love the Berkshires further connected with me with the multitude of passionate people in the region."
"This summer, I was an intern at the Bennington Oral Health Coalition, a small community-led initiative that is focused on improving oral health outcomes in Bennington, VT. Bennington is notorious for poor oral health outcomes. It frequently has the highest number of elementary students with cavities in the state, adults struggle to pay extraction bills, and the professional oral health community is struggling to keep it's people in good health. It was the perfect fit for me, as I am on the pre-dental track and am doing a concentration in Public Health!
During my time with the BOHC, I, alongside the other intern from UVM, engaged in a lot of local outreach. Our audiences included adolescents at the YMCA and community centers, teenagers in summer school, and even parents with recent newborn babies. We led a lot of presentations and discussions regarding the basics of oral health, the negative effects of substance abuse, and proper newborn oral hygiene. We also did a fair amount of brainstorming and research into the benefits of community water fluoridation, something that the town has been voting against since 1963 despite its proven benefits. I also did a lot of typical intern work- developing rack cards, editing Facebook and website content, writing blog posts, and more. It was a really fun experience, and something that I look to continue doing over the next couple of years, as Bennington is only a short drive away!"
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(Click the students’ names to see a photo and primary focus area)