(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
"You don't 'work' for CLiA -- you live and breathe the Berkshires with the Center for Learning in Action. Paula, Colin, Tracy, Sharif, Annie, and all the many other people who make this important part of the Williams campus happen, give their very best for the community and for us students. After a busy freshman year, this came as a wonderful refresher; I got the opportunity to work with some amazing individuals and feel even more confident in calling the Berkshires my home. This experience helped me feel prepared to do many things now -- from video editing, doing oral histories, different tasks related to designing, but also working in a group.
Aside from doing a group project to help the Louison House and it's rebuilding effort, I got the chance to work on a project together with another summer fellow, Maria Roman. We had an excellent time in Pittsfield during the semester, and now we learnt even more about the 'heart of the Berkshires' during the summer, so we decided to make a website which will bring Pittsfield closer to the broader Williams community. Hopefully, this will make Pittsfield seem more accessible and push students to explore the city as much as they can. I hope that the interviews and many resources we have on the website will serve the whole community and awaken the spirit of exploration in as many people as possible.
Finally, I have to say that being a part of the CLiA team was an amazing experience for so many reasons, and all of them have a very special place in my heart, but there is one thing that will always echo in my ears -- the first thing CLiA Director Paula Consolini told us: 'You are not in the middle of nowhere, but in the middle of everywhere!'"
"This summer I had the opportunity to be a CLiA Summer Fellow and I enjoyed learning about the amazing Berkshire community that I am now a part of. I applied for the summer internship because I had previously worked with CLiA as a part of the Berkshire Break Out Trip. During the trip I was exposed to a few of the many community organizations doing great work in the Berkshires and I hoped to get more involved through the Summer Fellowship.
The first part of the Fellowship involved meeting community members and campus leaders. We learned about the wide range of groups that CLiA partners with and the many ways students can get involved in the community. For my individual project I worked with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (nbCC). A forum on Inclusive Community Development took suggestions from local community members as to what improvements people would like to see in the area. With this information I was able to discover what things people wanted in the community and what sort of information gap existed in the community.
The internship allowed me to discover the truly great opportunities that exist through CLiA and it let me enjoy the Berkshires during a beautiful and restful summer."
"My past summer serving CLiA as part of their Community Outreach Summer Fellows was amazing. From getting to know more faculty on campus to meeting some of the people that make Berkshire County the vibrant region it is, every day was action-packed. We were able to get to know organizations behind the driving forces of the community, including the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC), Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC), and Lever, to name only a few. We were able to sit down and have conversations with our community's leaders and then relay that information to the incoming freshmen, who were on campus with the Summer Humanity and Social Sciences Program (SHSS). Being a part of the CLiA crew this summer as well as helping the incoming freshmen adjust made me realize that, in the words of Paula Consolini, 'we're not in the middle of nowhere, 'we’re in the middle of everywhere.'
Besides having a hand in many local Berkshire organizations, such as the winter study course offered in conjunction with BCAC, CLiA also helps fund and support Spring Break Out trips and Winter Study trips abroad. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend three weeks in January teaching at La Palma: Centro Educativo, an elementary school in the Dominican Republic. I served as an English and music instructor during my time there. I enjoyed it so much, that I longed to have a hand in the future of the Williams College-La Palma relationship. Without CLiA, my passion for teaching would have not been known to me. I am immensely grateful that I have been able to sustain and grow my relationship with the underserved children and educators of La Palma as well as learn new skills as my time as a CLiA Community Outreach Summer Fellow."
"Interning with CLiA this summer has been one of the best decisions I've made all year. Initially I applied for this internship because I wanted to be a more active volunteer within my new community here in the Berkshires, but I never realized just how much more this internship had to offer. In addition to learning more about the Berkshires and an abundance of ways to volunteer and get involved within the Berkshires, we also went to various local festivals and events, visited and led tours in North Adams and Pittsfield, and met with various community leaders and Williams administrators over lunch. We also attended various workshops and learned more regarding networking, career development, filming, video editing, website design, and so much more. Although I've enjoyed everything we've done this summer, my favorite aspect of this internship was how this experience allowed me to greatly broaden my perspective regarding the abundance of resources and opportunities that are available both inside and outside of Williams.
In addition to all the teamwork and group projects the other CLiA fellows and I worked on together, we all also had our own individual outreach projects. My project was focused on homelessness and housing insecurity, and I partnered with Louison House (the local homeless shelter in North Adams) in order to conduct an interview project that would help to combat the general stigmas regarding homelessness. People tend to assume that homeless individuals end up in that situation as a result of laziness, unwillingness to get a job, or a multitude of other misconceived notions. However, homelessness is not a choice for the majority of individuals who are homeless and many are homeless due to dire or unexpected circumstances regarding their families, jobs, health, etc. In order to help combat these stigmas, I've met and talked to individuals who are either currently homeless or have had past experiences with homelessness in order to hear their personal stories, and I also record interviews with these individuals who are comfortable and willing to share their stories with the public in order to help combat the stigmas behind homelessness and to spread more awareness regarding the truths behind homelessness and housing insecurity."
"Breathtaking views: green mountains, rivers, cascades and blue skies, nothing else -- this picture of the Berkshires is what a lot of us as students have in mind when we think about our surrounding area, especially coming in as first-years. Yet, if there is one thing that CLiA showed us is that the world around our "purple bubble" has so much more to offer than a magical scenery. It is a dynamic and diverse area, full of places to visit and volunteer, intriguing people and fascinating stories of globalization, change, industrialization, class, and culture (for the record, there's also a lot of good food past Spring Street).
As a group, we were connected to many different community leaders (both in Williams College and in the greater community) and learned about their work and how we as students can help in their initiatives. We were also given a great amount of tools and skills we could use to help the community, from video editing while creating a video for the Louison House, to learning how to take proper oral histories, and simply learning how to research and work in groups. We learned about the complex history of the area, and some of the issues that it faces today. Truly, being at CLiA for the summer did not feel like work as much as it felt like a daily inspiration to learn and to do more for this new place that we will call home for the rest of our undergraduate careers.
For my individual project, I worked alongside summer fellow Irfan Durmic on a project that aims to create awareness on one of the larger cities nearby: Pittsfield (or as some would call it, "the heart of the Berkshires"), and the many options it has to offer for students (as well as information on transportation and how to get there). The hope for the project is that it will spark a greater interest in exploration of the area, and hopefully more partnerships and relationships with the greater community, so that we start to feel less isolated and a little closer together to the rest of the Berkshires."
"Working with the Center for Learning in Action this summer, I was able to become involved in the Berkshire community and grow in ways I didn’t think possible. I served as the executive producer of a video for the Louison House, the only comprehensive housing agency in the Northern Berkshire area. Working with the other CLiA fellows, we focused on celebrating how far the Louison House has come as an organization, and the video was actually premiered at an event that they hosted a few weeks later. I also created a video for my individual project that addressed the idea and the misconceptions of the "Purple Bubble," and how it is possible to explore and become involved in Berkshire County as a Williams student. Check it out here (and click here to watch the bloopers)!
Overall, through this fellowship, I was able to learn the power of organizing to create change in my community. Also, after having conversations with staff at different organizations in North Adams and Pittsfield and having meetings with community leaders, I finally began to appreciate Berkshire County for what it is — a beautiful, thriving community."
"This summer internship with CLiA was a great vehicle to not only learn about the work of different community organizations in the Berkshires, but also to immerse myself into the local communities. I've had the opportunity to meet local community leaders and learn about the various causes that they champion while also attending community events such as Third Thursdays in Pittsfield. As an added bonus, I've also been able to explore some of the great restaurants in North Adams and Pittsfield. During the school year, it can be all too easy to buy into the phenomenon of the Purple Bubble. However, through this internship, I've learned so much about what the Berkshires (and CLiA, too!) have to offer and I’m excited to be more engaged with the local community in the future.
For my individual project, I worked on updating the website for Louison House, the only homeless shelter in Northern Berkshire. I was able to coordinate closely with the director of the Louison House to create a website that reflected her vision and Louison House’s brand while improving functionality and accessibility. This project allowed me insight into some of the inner workings of small nonprofits and the opportunity to engage in a creative and purposeful process."
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!"
(Click the students’ names to see a photo)
(Click the students’ names to see a photo and primary focus area)