(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
As a first-year student at Williams, I had barely ventured out of "Billsville" to other cities in Berkshire County; perhaps the occasional trip to North Adams, or a one-time drive down to Pittsfield (to return home to New York). I had always admired the beauty of the county: the rolling hills, dashing rivers, and sprawling forests were certainly a change from the urban environment of New York. But I can't say I had ever involved myself in the county’s affairs during my first year, much less actually ventured out into it. And so, this summer, through the wonderful opportunity that the Summer Outreach Fellowship presented, I made it a great mission to escape the "Purple Bubble".
During the summer, I worked primarily as an Economic Development intern at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) -- the county's "public-option" consulting/planning firm. I had worked as a municipal employee, assisting in revamping the City of North Adams' business permitting guide, while also working to redesign the process in which a potential business owner might go about setting that up. Furthermore, with the BRPC, I assisted in setting up ArtWeek: a ten-day festival in September that features artistic events and displays from all over Berkshire County, ranging from a variety of backgrounds and talents. Through my work at the BRPC, I was able to immerse myself in the county’s affairs, and actually understand the issues and effort that goes into managing local government here in Berkshire County. I spent a lot of time visiting all over the Berkshires, while also meeting with local officials and citizens.
In addition, I also started working with the Town of Adams to film a documentary on the ecotourism project known as Greylock Glen. Greylock Glen is located on a beautiful hill above the Town of Adams, tucked right behind Mount Greylock. It is a state funded project that consists of an environment center, with shops, conference rooms, and a focus on ecological education. The project has just started breaking ground, and in coordination with Adams, I will be filming the progress on the project over the course of the next year. The end goal is to produce a documentary on the project, that seeks to convey its applicability for the local community, and feature interviews, drone shots, and general filming that will truly showcase the beauty of this great endeavor.
Throughout the summer, I had managed to immerse myself in Berkshire County, both from a work standpoint, as well as a personal standpoint; I spent many hours hiking, biking, and swimming, in the many trails, paths, and rivers of the Berkshires. I have also just started to involve myself in several political campaigns for local government here. I am so thankful for the opportunities that the fellowship gave me, and I am excited to continue working with Paula and CLiA in the future, as well as further involving myself in Berkshire County!
My name is Brandi Carr and I am a rising senior. While majoring in English and concentrating in Global Studies I have combined my passions for writing, analytical thinking, communications, and promoting homeownership alongside my admiration for different cultures, lived experiences, and perspectives. A little bit about myself? Well, I grew up in Houston, Texas, but my family is from Michigan. I enjoy writing, reading, and learning about the world around me. Furthermore, I came to Williams College in the Fall of 2017 and I am an aspiring legal student. I will be applying to law schools in the fall of my senior year. Explicitly, I hope to become a criminal prosecutor and eventually progress towards being an assistant district attorney. Moreover, within the legal field, I am also curious about International Law, Human Rights Law, and Criminal Defense. So as you can see, I have an inclination towards the bureaucratic ways in which organizations are run. I love working with stabilizing structures in people's lives and for me—that means the law. Following these trends, I have a long-standing interest in working with nonprofits and charitable organizations in a legal capacity. To be sure, my experience at Williams College has given me ample time and opportunity to pursue my interests in law/nonprofit work.
I wanted to join the Center for Learning in Action this summer in order to familiarize myself with local nonprofits in the Berkshire Community. Markedly, for this period of time, the other fellows and I worked on a Public Service Announcement for Bee Friendly Williamstown where we filmed bees and other pollinators performing their important work in local lawns and gardens. Bee Friendly Williamstown is a local nonprofit organization aimed at convincing homeowners to refrain from mowing their lawns in order to help pollinators. Our videos were even featured in the local Williamstown theater to the delight of my teammates and I.
Likewise, for my specialty project, and circling back to my passion for solidifying homeownership, I collaborated with the Weatherization Remediation Assistance Program (WRAP) which is an offshoot of the Berkshire Community Action Council, Inc. BCAC, as it is called, aims to assist low-income residents of Berkshire County achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency. Equally, WRAP focuses on helping homeowners afford the necessary weatherization fortifications helping the most vulnerable stay in their homes. Namely, with BCAC, I created a flyer and corresponding infographic which outlined how vital it is for local Berkshire homes to be weatherized and fortified against tumultuous environmental conditions. I had lots of fun designing and creating informational graphics, and I loved the aftereffects—knowing that I contributed to the betterment of Berkshire County!
- Flyer & Infographic: BCAC & Weatherization (PDF)
I applied to become a Summer Fellow not really knowing what to expect from an open-ended internship whose goal was simply to "understand and address the needs of the local community" and foster "community engagement." My interest in politics and philosophy had always pointed me in the direction of community work as a way to foster change, but my previous engagement had always been more disorganized and low-level; after awhile I became disengaged and retreated into a more "armchair philosopher" role, willing to criticize and challenge contemporary ideas and issues, but not having the will—nor experience—to effectively put my vision into action. The CLiA Summer Fellowship didn't provide the spark that drove my community engagement, but it did give the structure. We were invited to community meetings across the Berkshires and were essentially given a roadmap, learning about the issues that affect us here at the local level along with the people and institutions already in place to help address them.
My first project involved working with Bee Friendly, a local non-profit focused on non-traditional, sustainable lawns, using video training we received early in the Summer to create a PSA advertising the group to our local community. Through cooperation with my fellow co-workers, we recorded footage, conducted interviews, and edited together the minute-long video, airing it at Images. While each individual step wasn't difficult, having to organize a project from start to finish with multiple moving parts gave me insight into how community work really happens: with constant bargaining, strong communication, and a willingness to wait your turn and listen to groups that have been in the fight for far longer than any of us have.
My specialty project consisted of creating a science curriculum for children at the Tyler Street Lab and Mohawk Forest Apartments, becoming a mentor for children from lower income backgrounds and getting them excited about learning. I worked with a fellow co-worker and friend, traveling to Pittsfield and North Adams to build robotic kits with children and having fun and connecting with them in a variety of ways (basketball was pretty popular).
I also had the space and opportunity to engage with the Berkshires in my own way, outside of the CLiA program. I got involved in local and state politics through campaign work, and had the privilege to meet politicians and campaign workers from across the state to see what involvement in local politics looks like at the ground level. Paula was an excellent mentor, helping me meet the right people to build upon my interest in local politics and encouraging me to explore community engagement from a perspective that personally excited me—a level of personally tailored freedom I wasn't expecting from a Williams program. I had the opportunity to meet former AG and Democratic nominee for governor of Massachussets Maura Healey, labor attorney and candidate for Massachussets AG Shannon Liss-Riordan, Former Representative and State Senator Paul Mark, and former State Senator and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Adam Hinds just to name a few—along with their respective staff and volunteers. I had the opportunity to work on Shannon's and Paul Mark's campaign as well, learning the tools of political organizing and getting a feel for the political landscape of the Berkshires. I also had the time and support to develop infrastructure for Williams College Democrats, working on posters and making local connections to help lead the club next year.
Overall, the CLiA Summer Fellowship is what you make of it, and (once you finish the trainings) you will have ample time to devote to work, friendships, and the many hidden opportunities that lurk around Williams but that, during the year, you never have a chance to take advantage of. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with Paula, CLiA, and the many other wonderful people I met this summer in the future, and am grateful to know that the memories and skills I gained up this summer will remain with me for life.
- Zine: "So...what even is Rank Choice Voting?" (PDF)
I am Frances Leung, class of 2025, majoring in American Studies on the Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies track. As someone with a background in racial and social justice, I am very passionate about working with marginalized populations often neglected by institutional systems of power: working with undocumented immigrants to apply for refugee status, developing racial justice and political education programs for Asian American youth of color across NYC, organizing pan-racial city-wide workshops and conferences addressing anti-Blackness, tutoring incarcerated folks at the Berkshire County Jail, interning with the only Asian American woman in the NYS Assembly to address the needs of elderly Asian immigrant families, and working to develop an Asian American Studies program at Williams College. As such, I wanted to apply these frameworks of power, neglect, and marginalization that I have learned in American Studies as well as my own organizing background by looking more closely at the populations neglected in the Berkshires this summer during my fellowship with CLiA.
In this line of pursuit, building on CLiA's expansive relationships with community partners around the Berkshires, I have embarked on two specialty projects this summer: 1) serving as a research consultant intern for the newly-reopened reentry program Second Street Second Chances (SSSC), and 2) developing a racial justice curriculum for high school youth of color in Pittsfield to encourage dialogue around the experiences of living as minoritized youth in the Berkshires.
Having worked with CLiA during the school year tutoring at the Berkshire County Jail and having worked with NYC legislative office on prison abolition, it was interesting to shift my focus from working with folks currently incarcerated to working with folks who have already been incarcerated and are now struggling to attain basic survival needs post-incarceration. Learning more about how having a criminal record can exclude folks from applying for government assistance programs (thus rendering basic survival needs more inaccessible), I developed a greater passion for criminal justice—especially when many of the currently/recently incarcerated folks I've talked to have families and children they care and need to provide for, are veterans with PTSD, face untreated mental health issues, and more. Researching and learning from other reentry transition houses, nonprofits that offer therapeutic and family-oriented services, and other programs that focus on providing financially accessible food/clothing/housing for incarcerated populations, I was surprised to see the large number of people and organizations in Massachusetts already working to address the institutional neglect incarcerated populations face. In specific, I have really been interested in programs that are both cost-effective and also have multifaceted purposes: for example, the Father/Child Homework Assistance Program not only fosters familial-relationship building, but is also educational for both the child and the father. While tutoring high school math at the Berkshire County Jail, I found that even brushing up on basic math skills can be really helpful for folks in applying it to work skills, as well as just building up personal self-esteem—acting as a personal step in reclaiming personal autonomy. Through my research, I learned more about and from other reentry programs in Massachusetts, finding the value in passing down generational and institutional knowledge. Rather than speculating and repeating mistakes made by other reentry programs, I found that there is a lot of learning we can gather from a more interdependent,
community-oriented approach where we notice what has worked for other organizations, learn from how they may have financially sustained their organization (or not), and host dialogues with recently unincarcerated populations regarding what resources they actually need and what additional community spaces they actually want. As such, we can genuinely move forward in building a community of care for currently/once incarcerated folks as opposed to trodding down the same failed paths again and again.
As someone who was very heavily involved in racial justice movements and organizations in a very diverse city, it was jarring to attend college in the Berkshires, especially in Williamstown—which as of 2019, had a median household income 23% greater than the national median, had 0% of households speak a non-English language at home as their primary language, and has a population where three-quarters of all residents are non-Hispanic and white. As such, I—along with many other lower-income students of color at Williams—began developing a view of the Berkshires as a very wealthy community riddled with vacation homes, affluent connections, and generational wealth. Hearing about the demand for a racial justice curriculum from youth of color in Pittsfield, however, opened my eyes to the more diverse experiences within the Berkshires. In fact, submitting to and perpetuating the stereotype that everyone that lives in the Berkshires comes from a background of significant generational wealth actually only reiterates the institutional and cultural neglect that lower-income populations in the Berkshires face. As such, I have been really enjoying adapting the racial justice and political education curriculums that I have developed before for NYC youth to youth that live in Pittsfield. Observing, listening, and empathizing more with the different surroundings and environment in the Berkshires, I have found it really fulfilling to partner with other racial justice organizers in the area, learning from their various experiences and backgrounds, to develop a program that seeks to articulate the minoritized experiences of youth in Pittsfield. In developing this curriculum, I realized how important it is to have programs like this: programs built by community members for community members. Addressing and processing our racialized experiences—especially as youth of color—is difficult, disheartening, and possibly traumatizing, but simply because it is difficult does not mean it is not important. Instead of forcing young kids of color to embark and process these experiences by themselves, this program serves as a therapeutic affinity space to foster togetherness, providing the comforting community, resources, and necessary mentors to help guide youth of color as well as find the right language and vocabulary to articulate our feelings, emotion, and experiences.
- Zine: "Asian American Studies Movement (AASM)" (PDF)
I'm a sophomore from seacoast New Hampshire planning on majoring in Astrophysics. Before coming to Williams, I had done a lot of volunteer work at my local library, which helped me better understand my community at home. Since arriving here, however, I hadn't been outside the Purple Bubble at all. This program gave me an opportunity to get out and explore the Berkshire community outside of the college, and provided me with knowledge and resources to further get involved in community outreach work and help others find involvement too.
At the beginning of the program, we learned valuable skills such as video editing and graphic design; we then applied these skills to aid local community organizations. We worked together to create a video for Bee Friendly Williamstown, a group which promotes healthy lawn practices for native pollinators. I played a large role in both the taking of footage and editing, which allowed me to practice these skills in a real-world setting.
For my personal project, I worked with Carlos Hernandez Tavares to come up with activities based on simple science kits that would engage kids and get them excited about science. We initially brought robot kits to the Tyler Street Lab in Pittsfield, and although we didn't have a large turnout there we were also able to visit the Mohawk Forest community where we got more results. Our notes on the robot and magnet kits we used during our sessions will hopefully be useful references for future educators looking to inspire children to explore science.
My name is Dania Taki and I am a rising junior majoring in Anthropology and concentrating in Arabic. I transferred to Williams from community college in San Diego. As a community organizer back home, I was especially excited about the possibility of contributing to my new community.
I loved working with CLiA this summer, which allowed me to engage and learn about the different communities in the Berkshires. In this way, I explored how the Williams community can make change and contribute to addressing needs beyond the purple bubble. I saw how directly engaging with the community is key to building longitudinal relationships, and by doing that, impactful change happens.
Also, I discovered that there is no greater way to learn about a community and its values than to seek out opportunities to become a direct participant. As an aspiring anthropologist, CLiA was a wonderful opportunity to integrate different anthropological methods to understand and contribute to the Berkshires simultaneously. I am excited to put all that I have learned into action soon.
Many thanks to Paula, Colin, and Ash for their incredible support. I am grateful to you all!
My name is David Yoo, age 20 (I know, pretty old, right?), male with he/him pronouns, and, before this program, severely lacking in knowledge of anything about Williams outside of certain classrooms, the dining halls, and my dorm building. I am barely acquainted with the people in the room 5 feet away from me, let alone with all that the Berkshires have to offer. As a way of improving my awareness of the Williams community, CLiA's Community Outreach Summer Fellowship program felt like a good opportunity to explore not just Williams College, but Berkshire County and what it has to offer. After the past 7 weeks, I can say that I was glad to attend this program and learn more about the Berkshires and the people in it.
While learning about the various non-profit organizations within and nearby the Williams campus, as well as participating in various festivals and events, I was able to interact with this community in more ways than I would have without this program. Paula, Colin, Ash, and everyone that I met over the course of the program helped me learn more about the community, and even some ways that I can help to contribute back.
We learned new skills like making zines and editing videos, as well as refined other skills like poster making and presenting information to others. This all led to the independent projects, where some important skills could be practiced: leadership and organization. My project is planning a small yet fun event at the Harper Center run by the Williams Council of Aging. This event will be a Disney Sing-Along featuring the Aristocows, Williams only Disney-Acapella group. To me, music is a way of not only expressing oneself, but also a way of being able to experience different perspectives and points of view, all while connecting different people and communities. This is something that really resonates with me, especially after joining this CLiA Fellowship.
Thank you Paula and CLiA for this great program and opportunity. I highly recommend it to those that want to broaden their Williams experience, and to the other shut-ins that want to see more of what this community has to offer.
I was incredibly honored to be named an E. Wayne Wilkins, Jr. '41 Community Outreach Fellow in 2022. When I first came to Williams in the Fall of 2020, we were still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and were facing all sorts of new restrictions on the ways that we lived, studied, and worked together. Our interactions with each other both inside and outside of the Williams campus were limited, and it truly felt as though we were living inside isolated bubbles and within a larger "Purple Bubble" during the period that we were restricted from leaving the campus area. As a result, I didn't feel a strong sense of community on campus or with the surrounding Williamstown community. However, during the summer after my first year at Williams, I was fortunate enough to intern with Massachusetts State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (P '21) and it was then that I really began to learn more about life in the Berkshires—about the residents, about the challenges that they were facing, and about different local community organizations and nonprofits.
In my sophomore year, I joined Educational Opportunities for Success — a mentoring program that brings students from the College together with students in the Pittsfield Public School District's alternative learning facility — and worked as both a Recess Buddy and After School Tutor at Williamstown Elementary School. Through these opportunities, I learned more about the work that CLiA does to help the wider community in Williamstown and the Berkshires. I knew that I wanted to give back to the community that I consider home, and working as a Community Outreach Fellow in the summer of 2022 was a perfect opportunity to do so.
Continuing Dr. Wayne Wilkins's legacy of community service, I worked with other CLiA Fellows that summer to film and edit a public service announcement video for Bee Friendly Williamstown. I also worked on some smaller projects such as helping design a brochure for the Harper Center and a presentation about Williamstown Elementary School. We also had the chance to volunteer at the Berkshire Food Project and bake cookies for the Harper Center at the Williamstown Council on Aging. After my summer as a Community Outreach Fellow, I definitely felt a deeper connection and appreciation for Williamstown and the Berkshires at large, and especially for all the people who work incredibly hard to make their communities a better place.
I am very grateful for the Wilkins Fellowship as well as for the Center for Learning in Action, and for all the amazing staff there including Director Paula Consolini, Colin Ovitsky, Ash Bell, and Geraldine Shen among others. I hope to continue building community and giving back throughout my time at Williams and beyond.
- Zine: "Accessing Reproductive and Sexual Healthcare @ Williams" (PDF)
- Presentation: "Learn About Williamstown Elementary School" (PDF)
- Brochure: "Williamstown Council on Aging Spring Brochure" (PDF)
(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
My name is Abby Atonal Rodriguez and I am a rising junior this year. This is my second year at Williams College. Before attending Williams, I attended Mesa Community College in Arizona. I transferred here as a non-traditional student.
This summer I worked alongside a total of three other Fellows as a mini public relations team for the Town of Adams. During our work, we interviewed, photographed, and filmed a variety of people who live in Adams. They shared a little bit of their stories with us as well as their hopes for the community at hand. Our team then had the opportunity to edit those photos and film to create an interactive map of the Town of Adams. We learned that the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution heavily impacted the economy and quality of life of Adams. As a result, Adams is actively creating a new niche. The map our team worked to create can be used to promote the Town of Adams as well as an educational tool for those who wish to virtually explore the town.
I'm a sophomore from the Chicago area planning to major in Political Economy and Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Following such an unconventional first year at Williams that made it difficult to engage with the community, the Community Outreach Fellowship helped me to seek out ways that I can engage with our community, both on campus and in the greater Berkshires area.
In the first few weeks of the program, we attended workshops on zine-making, videography, website design, and graphic art. We also met (in person!) the community leaders and organizations behind all the work that’s being done for the betterment of Berkshire County.
There was so much creative freedom within the fellowship as we were able to tailor our zine, video, and independent project to our passions. I'm drawn to educational outreach, and for the group video project I worked with other Fellows to film and edit a video that highlights 2020 CO Fellow Kary Chen's Coloring American Heroes booklet and the racial justice curriculum currently being developed for the Pittsfield Public Schools. We interviewed Kary as well as staff members from PPS to convey the impact that Kary's project has had and the general significance of a more inclusive and diverse curriculum.
For my independent project, I continued with curriculum development, now focusing on inclusive, comprehensive sex education in the Berkshires. With the help of CLiA and Williams staff, I was able to connect with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, a local organization that runs sex education programming in Berkshire public schools. The EFC is currently creating and distributing zines on topics related to sexual wellness, and I will be aiding with content creation. This summer, I have created a glossary of LGBTQIA terms and a zine that unpacks the cultural fetishization of women of color.
I am so grateful to have spent the summer as a CO Fellow and to have worked with CLiA, Paula, and the rest of the CO Fellows, and I look forward to further immersing myself in the Berkshire community!
After spending the past few years involved in political campaigns and organizations, I felt burnt out from the negativity in our modern politics. I started questioning whether politics was doing more harm than good, whether I was contributing to the toxicity dividing our nation. I lost the optimism that had always been the source of my motivation. At the same time, I found myself enjoying the work I was doing through CLiA programs, where I was able to see the positive impact we made in people's lives. Instead of campaigning in hopes of seeing changes years in the future, we were helping low-income taxpayers receive their tax refunds now — making a tangible improvement in their lives. That feeling, the certainty of knowing that I had made a difference in another person’s life, made me super excited to work as a CLiA Community Outreach Fellow this summer. Through the fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet with community leaders across the Berkshires and learn skills to help them in their efforts.
This summer, I worked with a group of Fellows to create a video PSA promoting the HOMES Act, a bill in the Massachusetts General Court that would protect tenants from being denied housing due to inaccurate or misleading eviction court records. In the process, we engaged with local organizations working to assist individuals and families facing homelessness or housing insecurity, learning about the incredible work taking place all around us.
For my independent project, I created a crash course on Williamstown politics to give Williams students the knowledge they need to be informed community members and voters. I interviewed members of the Williamstown Select Board, the interim Town Manager, and members of the community, distilling the most important information into a guide for students. In the process of conducting the interviews and scouring through newspaper articles going back decades, I learned a lot more about the town in which we live and the challenges we face.
After this summer, I can't wait to participate in more CLiA programs and learn even more about the region. I'm especially excited to have the opportunity to continue working with Paula and the rest of the CLiA staff!
Working as a Community Outreach Fellow under CLiA provided me numerous opportunities to develop individually and establish an increased appreciation for the work done by Berkshire community members. I applied for this position because I wanted to help support the place I now consider a second home. Thanks to Paula and staff, I was able to meet several individuals and organizational groups that care deeply about the wellbeing of the Berkshires and its residents. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to learn about and assist the Berkshire community.
For my first community project, I collaborated with a small group of coworkers to create virtual tours of local historical sites that are significant to the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican people. Working alongside the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Historic Preservation Office, we were able to connect the now relocated tribe with their homelands. The virtual tours are available to view on the Preservation Office's social media.
My specialty project involved a more in-depth look at the current status of public transportation in Berkshire County. The final product was an infographic highlighting the county's current transportation options and actions that can be taken to improve accessibility. Both the geological and demographic characteristics of the county were considered to suggest effective solutions to improve the shortcomings of the current transportation situation. The infographic also provides resources to help individuals get involved with the issue of transport accessibility.
- Infographic: "Berkshire County Public Transportation" (PDF)
After spending a year doing most things remotely, I was glad to have the opportunity to engage with the community again through this in-person fellowship. I worked with other CLiA Fellows on an informational video about the Coloring American Heroes Project - a coloring book started by 2020 CLiA Fellow Kary Chen that teaches kids about African American role models. This work delves into the important issues of racial justice and diversity and their role in K-12 curriculums. We worked with people from Pittsfield Public Schools who want to use the coloring book in the classroom to help develop this cause.
For my independent project, I wanted to incorporate my passion for mental health and engage with the young members of the local community. I worked with CLiA Fellow Emily Zhu to create a mindfulness and self-care activity book for elementary-age children. This pandemic has been challenging for everyone; we learned about the toll it’s taken on children in our local community, considering the lack of therapists and mental health resources for young children in the area. I wanted to teach them about self-care and give them tools to improve their physical and emotional well-being. Some of the topics covered include healthy eating, physical activity, yoga, breathing exercises, and more. We've already started work to distribute it to the Northern Berkshire Childcare Center, and hopefully, its reach will continue to expand. I'm grateful for the opportunity to make an impact on the community and hopefully on the children who come across the activity book.
Overall, this experience has changed my view of Williams. It's not really in the middle of nowhere like I previously thought; it is an active place with so many people working to create change and numerous ways to help and get involved. The program allowed me to build a network, learn from other Fellows and community leaders, and use my creativity to benefit others and a cause I wholeheartedly believe in.
- Mindfulness Activity Book (PDF)
The pandemic limited my opportunity to take advantage of programs that Williams offers during my first year, so I was ecstatic to work with an amazing program like CLiA for the first time. As a Davis Center Racial Justice Summer Opportunity Grant recipient, I attended workshops and collaborated with the CLiA Community Outreach Fellows. In particular, I learned extensively about video editing, zine making, and organizations in the Berkshire community in our numerous workshops and training. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I barely knew much about the Berkshire community and had only gone out of Williamstown to purchase groceries. I am extremely grateful to have toured surrounding towns like Adams and Pittsfield, met with community leaders at the NBCC Annual Meeting, and toured organizations like the Berkshire Food Project and North Berkshire YMCA.
I am incredibly grateful for having in-person team projects again. During the first half of the fellowship, I worked with an amazing team to create a PSA video about the Coloring American Heroes project. We interviewed Kary Chen, the previous CLiA Fellow who pioneered the coloring book, and Shirely Edgerton, the cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield Public Schools. In addition to interviewing the significant people involved in the coloring book, we invited children in the community to color with crayons and markers in the coloring book.
On top of working with my team on our video project, I focused on my project for the Davis Center. Inspired by how the Coloring American Heroes project spotlights notable African American figures, I decided to create a podcast that highlighted Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) figures that are often ignored in American history. Outside of CLiA workshops and team meetings, I researched about the first Asian American actress in Hollywood—Anna May Wong—and refined my episode transcript.
I am beyond grateful to Paula for allowing me to work with the CLiA Fellows and attend the beneficial training. Without the skills I gained this summer and experiences with the other summer Fellows, I would not have been able to develop my podcast as much and realize how CLiA maintains such a positive presence in the Berkshires.
- Podcast: "A Pioneer in the Movie Industry: Anna May Wong"
I began by looking at the HOMES Act, a set of bills designed to protect the credibility of tenants and their online housing records. I created a video PSA highlighting its key aspects and what they would mean for many Massachusetts families. My group went on to interview Kathy Keeser, Executive Director of the Louison House of North Adams, on her work with transitional housing and her hopes for what the HOMES Act could accomplish.
I was also involved in another group's cycle of interviewing and video editing. We archived footage of artists, townspeople, and other proponents of community development in the nearby town of Adams, all centered around the renovation of the historic Adams Theater. Working alongside Yina Moore, Founder and Executive Director of Adams Theater, as well as interns from local high schools, we've set a foundation for other students in the future to build onto in the coming months. I'm looking forward to possibly coordinating music performances between the College and the theater as renovations progress.
The individuals I met shared this certain energy of wanting to make things happen, of having had all these wonderful plans in their heads and finally being able to roll them out alongside the spread of COVID vaccines. It was a healthy dose of optimism that I enjoyed capturing on film and presenting to wider audiences.
And spending the summer in a building along with a bunch of likeminded students was a wonderful experience. My thanks goes out to them as well as Paula for helping me navigate my first summer at Williams.
I am a sophomore from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I worked on promoting the Coloring American Heroes project with four other Fellows through capturing pictures, and videos for the Coloring American Heroes project. For my individual project, I worked on a booklet that is dedicated to create awareness on the importance of a society that integrates people with ADHD, Autism and other neurodivergent conditions. Moreover, I wanted to highlight the stories of famous people with special needs in order to inspire and encourage neurodivergent people. I hope this booklet can be seen as a tool that sparks interest in people to know more about neurodiversity.
Working as a Community Outreach Fellow this summer was truly a healing experience. This past year was one of the most isolating and challenging years of my life, but through this fellowship, I was able to reconnect with the Williams community and interact with amazing people. Through our field trips, workshops, and project work, I saw how much hard work and dedication it takes to create a lively community and felt the warmth and energy of the Berkshires.
One of my first projects was creating a zine about some of my favorite places on campus as a potential resource for first-year students. Although Williams is a small school, it can take a while to explore and get to know all of the spaces available on campus. In my zine, I recommend some great places to study, nap, cry, eat, and more. I was also able to work with an amazing team of CLiA Fellows on a video project for the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. We filmed and edited videos of culturally significant locations on the tribe's original ancestral land for a virtual tour of these sites.
For my last project, I worked with another CLiA Fellow and researched the potential of implementing a Health Coach program at Williams, modeled after the program at the College of Wooster. This program would help those in the community's elderly population to improve their wellness practices and avoid preventable hospitalizations, while also allowing students to gain clinical experience and develop good bedside manner. After some initial research, we created an introduction to the program to help us explain the program to members of the Williams and Berkshire community. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I had this summer, and I am thankful to Paula, the wonderful CLiA Fellows, and the great community members who I worked with.
I am Aiden (Quang-Anh) Pham, a sophomore from Hanoi, Vietnam. Having spent my first semester remotely and my second semester limited to campus, I was excited to go out into the surrounding community and learn about how community members are supporting one another. Through workshops on zine-making, video-editing, and graphic design, I had the chance to explore the various avenues in which community outreach functions and has an impact. Through conversations with Paula and other community leaders, I was able to learn about the work that goes into community organizing, navigating conflict, and communicating to address people's needs.
For my video project, my group worked with Yina Moore from Adams Theater to document the various development projects happening in the town of Adams. Interviewing artists and townspeople on their contributions to developing and revitalizing the Adams social/cultural scene, I feel incredibly humbled to learn about their experiences, passions, and visions for the wider community. I specifically worked on editing our interview of Jack Savage, a retired theater professional, in which he supports the renovation and opening of Adams Theater as a community center. For my independent work, I worked with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office on a program aimed at raising awareness of the history of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians through creative interaction with and active reflection on nature. Through creative activities woven on educational and informative components about the Tribe's past and current activities, I hope to encourage my peers to acknowledge their and the College's presence on Mohican ancestral lands, reckon with the Williams' family involvement in displacing the Tribe, and align their political perspectives. I also want to highlight the work of the Office and open up opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between the Office and the student body.
Apart from the chance to meet and work with community leaders, working with and getting to know the other CLiA Fellows have been deeply rewarding to me. Their range of perspectives and interests inspire me greatly in my work, and getting to know them on a personal level has made my summer all the more meaningful and enjoyable!
During my time as a Community Outreach Fellow, I had the amazing opportunity to meet a lot of artists and innovators who were making the Berkshires a more welcoming place to live in for all people. From visiting the Berkshire Food Project to meeting Yina Moore, the new owner of the Adams Theater, I found myself in the middle of the renovation and renewal of the town of Adams and of the Berkshires as a whole. I worked alongside a few friends to record and archive interviews with local townspeople and artists, and from some of these interviews, we created short videos to promote the town's development projects. Our initial short video project—a simple promotional video for Adams Theater—suddenly became my specialty project, and I have been setting up a foundation for future CLiA Fellows to follow behind, including finding more artists to interview and a standardized font and style for future videos. Ultimately, the grand plan which Yina nudged us towards is to have a living archive of the Bershires artists, and we have only scratched the surface.
Hello! My name is Erin Youn, and I am a part of the Class of 2024 currently on the pre-med track. During the school year, I am involved with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and Positive Pathways Partnership (P3). I was drawn to the Community Outreach Fellowship this summer because my exposure to Berkshire County during a first year overshadowed by the pandemic was, unfortunately, limited. Working with CLiA this summer proved to be the perfect opportunity to familiarize myself with a pool of different community organizations and institutions that make Berkshire County the vibrant community that it is.
Both my group and independent projects this summer gave me opportunities to not only get acquainted with the Berkshires, but also engage with the community. The focus of my group's short-term project was to create a PSA for the HOMES Act, an act that would prevent evictions that took place through no fault of the tenant. The PSA was created in order to spread awareness on what the act entailed, with the hope that its passage in the Massachusetts State Legislature would prevent errors from drastically affecting tenants' livelihoods.
This fellowship also served as a great channel to meld together my passion for community engagement with my other interests. This was possible through my independent project, in which I worked with another CLiA Fellow to research and create a model for the creation of a Health Coach Program at Williams. Modeled after another college’s Health Coach Program, our program will allow students to receive hands on clinical experience by serving as health coaches to a primarily elderly population while simultaneously reducing unnecessary hospitalizations. The hope is that our initial research will pave a way to instituting this kind of program in Williamstown.
Overall, working with CLiA this summer was a memorable and fantastic opportunity. Thank you to Paula and my peers for their guidance and support this summer!
- Health Coach Program
I really enjoyed my time working with CLiA and doing community outreach work this summer. I was interested in this opportunity primarily because I wanted to connect with the Berkshire community and learn about the different ways I can get involved here. Through this fellowship, I was able to learn about many initiatives local organizations are taking while meeting with various community leaders. I was also able to gain valuable skills through all of the video editing and website building workshops that I attended.
For my video project, I helped create a PSA video highlighting the Coloring American Heroes Book that Kary Chen created last summer. I worked with other CLiA Fellows as well as leaders at the local elementary schools to create this video in an attempt to expand its use and encourage more schools to incorporate it into their curriculum so more children can be exposed to heroes of color. For my individual project, I worked with CLiA Fellow Jo Hovey to create a mindfulness and self-care activity book for young children. Knowing how the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many individuals, we wanted to focus on raising awareness about the importance of mindfulness for children from a young age. Through this activity book, we hope to equip kids with strategies to cope with difficult situations and teach them healthy ways of expressing their emotions.
During my first year at Williams, I did not get many opportunities to explore the Berkshires, but this fellowship opened my eyes to the wide expanse of opportunities available for me to engage with the community. I had a great experience working with the local organizations as well as Paula and other CLiA Fellows this summer, and I am looking forward to taking the skills I gained this summer to get more involved with the Berkshires during the rest of my time at Williams!
- Mindfulness Activity Book (PDF)
(Click the students’ names to learn more about their work)
"The past summer was an uncertain one for everyone, but I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to spend it as a Community Outreach Fellow. Although this was the first year that the fellowship was entirely virtual, the friendly faces at CLiA and in the Berkshires were present to welcome and guide us through the entire program. I learned something new at every meeting, from the remarkable work of community leaders in the Berkshires to the ways in which Williams students can get involved. The workshops also provided us with the resources to develop our own projects through zine-making, video-editing, and website-building, while prompting us to think about how to best reach and cater to our audiences.
Specifically, I was glad to have worked with an amazing team in creating tribute videos for the non-medical essential workers in the Berkshires. While they are often overlooked, it is so important that we recognize and thank our everyday heroes for keeping our community safe and supplied. The meetings also inspired and steered me through my individual project, in which I created a coloring booklet of African American role models for elementary-age children.
I was out-of-touch with the wider Berkshire community during my first year at Williams, but the fellowship opened my eyes to the expanse of opportunities in the regions beyond the Purple Bubble. The creative freedom in developing our work allowed me to think more deeply about the various aspects of community engagement while generating an interesting project with a tangible impact on the local community. I am thankful for the Community Outreach Fellowship because the experiences provided me with a toolkit that I am bound to use again in the future, both inside and outside the classroom."
"I was interested in working as a Summer Fellow for CLiA because of the opportunity to engage with the Berkshire community and the important work being done by local organizations. Going into the program, I had almost no experience with outreach and nonprofits, but this was a wonderful introduction and I learned so much from Williams students, alumni, and community leaders. It ultimately helped me realize what else I want to get involved in in the future through CLiA and it opened my eyes to Berkshire networks I hadn’t known existed.
For my project, I worked with the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams, a dedicated all-volunteer group that became more important than ever as COVID-19 made an impact on the residents in the area. To start, I created a video PSA to help recruit new local volunteers and raise awareness of the crucial work the pantry was doing. From there, I helped channel requests by making a google form for the website and supporting the pantry through technological challenges.
This was an impactful and informative summer experience for me. Extensive discussions with Paula, my peers, and leaders of groups both within and beyond Williams taught me a lot about our collective capability to work toward change. I look forward to becoming even more involved with CLiA in the coming semesters and watching future Summer Fellows grow too!"
"This summer was the first time I worked with CLiA, and I really enjoyed my overall experience! We were able to meet people from the Berkshire community and learn about their different specialty areas and initiatives taken to help the community. Also, we were able to learn various skills such as making zines, editing videos, and creating websites, which we used for short-term and long-term projects. I appreciate the support we received from the CLiA staff and other peers, as well as the encouragement to be creative in our individual projects.
One of my favorite parts of the internship was learning how to create and edit videos. Using these skills, I was able to create a PSA for Berkshire Interfaith Organizing (BIO) about immigrant justice initiatives. I think this is especially important during the current COVID-19 pandemic. With increased social distancing and less in-person interactions, it may be easier to feel disconnected from others in the community. There are also more regulations against immigrants in our country, which is unfair to those who need to have their voices heard. In response, I hoped to communicate that there are people who genuinely care and are working to support immigrants.
For my long-term project, I created a video about theatre productions from the Barrington Stage Company that address racial justice. Many of these productions challenge us to reflect about several things: How do we learn about the history of racial injustice? When do we realize the discomfort that
comes with racial injustice, and how can we support people who have experienced this discomfort? These thoughts can influence us to educate ourselves and foster conversations to gain a deeper understanding about our racial backgrounds and the racial injustices in our country. There are also other productions that celebrate and uplift people of color, and I think this should be encouraged more in our culture and society."
"As a Community Outreach Fellow, I was able to learn about the efforts of various community groups and meet so many amazing people from across the Berkshires. This was one of the most rewarding aspects of the program for me, not only because I learned more about how I can personally get involved, but also because I was inspired by stories of how other people engage with their community to further expand my own sense of community. Williams can feel quite small, but as a Community Outreach Fellow, I was reminded on a daily basis of how vibrant and active the Berkshires community truly is.
For my first project, I created a Zine in which I proposed a more diverse English curriculum. Growing up, I rarely felt represented in the books we were told to read at school, so I decided to create my ideal reading curriculum, a curriculum that features a wide range of voices. Of course, it is still limited to my reading history, but I hope that anyone who stumbles across it finds at least one book that interests them—or even one they fall in love with! I also worked with a local food pantry, the Al Nelson Friendship Center, to create a PSA with the goal of encouraging more people to stop by for food. This was such a wonderful experience because I was able to work directly with members of the food pantry. For my final project, I worked with several other fellows to come up with educational activities for students living in the low-income housing community, Mohawk Forest. I created a Build-Your-Own Adventure advice handbook and walk-through for them. Working on these projects allowed me to indulge my creative side while
honing my efforts toward a specific goal.
I am so grateful to Paula and everyone at CLiA for making this experience possible!"
Even with all the difficulties in this era of COVID-19, this fellowship with the Center for Learning in Action still found a way to connect me to the Berkshires and get to experience a sense of community around the Purple Bubble. I had the opportunity this past summer to work with fantastic rising sophomores and juniors in various projects to support organizations hurting after the devastating effects of the pandemic. Throughout these weeks, the Center for Learning in Action Director, Paula Consolini, supported all of us in our individual projects, providing the resources and counseling necessary towards making an impact in the Berkshires. We had the opportunity to meet with students and leaders working on projects affecting the county, and this allowed me to get a greater understanding of all the various initiatives that I could take a part in throughout the school year.
Probably the greatest benefit of the program is its skillbuilding aspect, teaching about creating and distributing zines, using WordPress to edit websites, using PremierPro to create videos, and ThinkerAnalytix training to learn more about teaching argument mapping. And, of course, learning in action through spearheading your own projects with the support of students and staff. I worked on an original composition for my zine project, expressing artistically the changing yet stable nature of living through the pandemic. Another project was creating a public service announcement video for Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, an organization in the Berkshires that emphasizes the power of listening to peoples’ stories to make an impact in important areas such as racial justice, education, transportation, and immigration justice. Finally, I began work with Mohawk Forest, a low-income housing community, to engage its community members with fun and creative activities learning how to make music, a project that will continue into the academic year.
I had a phenomenal experience working with Paula and my fellow students this summer, and as this summer showed, the CLiA Fellowship will be extraordinary regardless of circumstances. I would highly recommend taking this opportunity to step outside the Purple Bubble and truly feel at home in the Berkshires.
"I had an informative and wonderful summer while working with CLiA. Having had my first-year cut short due to the pandemic, I knew I wanted to get involved with the Berkshires over the summer. Thankfully, I was able to do so in a virtual environment while working on community projects under the guidance of Paula.
My short-term project was creating a video aimed at encouraging students from and out of Williams to vote in the upcoming election. My team and I researched Williams and the Berkshires voting statistics to supplement our video and also learned useful video editing and marketing skills. For my long-term project, I knew I wanted to focus on public health, so I, along with a peer, worked on a research and resource website aimed at providing resources to families, students, and educators during the pandemic. Our research primarily focused on how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and used this information to examine the risks of reopening schools in Berkshire County public schools. Additionally, we carefully analyzed the reopening plan, taking note of evidence school districts were using as a reason to re-open schools and found it interesting that many of them involved research conducted in other countries, which had significantly lower infection rates and COVID-19 cases.
From these projects, I believe I was able to learn about the Berkshires and Williams in depth, and I know that the knowledge and connections developed during these few weeks will continue to help me in my future endeavors!"
"I have always been interested in community outreach work and, in particular, learning how to build effective, reciprocal relationships with partners and maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership. This summer only added to my interest and knowledge. As a fellow I was able to learn more about the wonderful work done at CLiA - whether it be led by students, or passionate faculty and alumni- and learn about the innovative work being done in the local community. I worked with a team to create a PSA/ tribute video series for non-medical essential workers and helped create some summer enrichment programing for students in the low- income housing community, Mohawk Forest. Both opportunities helped me to better understand both the vibrant energy and collaborative nature of the communities we worked with, but also some of the underlying struggles that many were working to combat. In this time of crisis, food insecurity, lack of access to the internet, racial injustice were especially relevant difficulties. I was inspired to both witness the local communities come together to combat these deeply ingrained obstacles, and to be a part of a team of fellows eager to learn about these structural issues.
Ultimately, I think that lessons I learned this summer I will take with me for my work as a Davis Center Community Engagement Fellow and beyond as I continue to organize, critically analyze power structures, and hopefully create meaningful change."
"This past summer, I had the amazing opportunity of working at CLiA. I wanted to learn more about the Berkshires and how I can be a more active member of the community. I was able to listen and speak to many leaders in the Berkshire County about their passions as well as develop skills in leadership and teamwork.
In one of my projects, my group partnered with The Berkshire Community Action Council and The Northern Berkshire United Way to create a series of tribute videos to non-medical essential workers. While our main goal was to thank everyone working through these tough times, we also wanted to remind everyone that they can only continue to do their jobs if we do ours. So, reminding everyone to follow social distancing guidelines and to always wear their masks was important to include in the videos.
My last project that I was involved in was related to racial injustice, specifically, redlining. I decided to make a series of infographics that summarizes the most important information. The main goal of this project is to bring awareness to redlining as well as any other possible parts of history that are either overlooked or not taught in schools at all.
Overall, my experience at CLiA (despite being remote) has showed me how much the community cares about it. Paula was an inspiring mentor and my time at CLiA will always be remembered."
(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!"
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