Read stories and testimonials from some of the students, faculty, and community partners involved in community engagement with the CCE!

Newman Civic Fellows

Shivapriya Nair standing on a pebble beach wearing a jacket, pants and pink sneakers, smiling at the camera.

Shivapriya “Priya” Nair ’24

2023-2024 Newman Civic Fellow

Priya’s first experience with community engagement at Middlebury College was through the CCE’s Community Connected Learning course, where she helped run BIPOC affinity spaces at Mount Abraham Unified High School in Bristol, VT. Priya was also involved in Language in Motion, and was a Community Connected Project Assistant for an Environmental Studies course. She won a Public Service Leadership Award in 2022, and was named Middlebury College’s 2023-2024 Newman Civic Fellow.

“Throughout all these experiences, the real shining impact in my life was all the impressive and uplifting friends and mentors I was meeting. I had electrifying conversations about social, environmental, and health justice with people who became my best friends.” 

 Read Priya’s full reflection.


Patrick Kuruga wearing a white sweater, smiling at the camera.

Patrick Kuruga Wachira ’23

2021-2022 Newman Civic Fellow

Patrick’s journey with the CCE started right with his first week on campus through his MiddView trip: Working Together to Effect Change. “I learned about Community Friends through my trip leader and I knew as soon as I heard about it that I would want to be a part of it.” After that, Patrick joined Community Friends as well as other CCE programs such as Language in Motion, Middlebury Alternative Break Trips, and Page One Literacy Project. Patrick was named Middlebury College’s Newman Civic Fellow in 2021-2022 and was awarded a Public Service Leadership Award in 2023 for his dedication to community engagement at Middlebury College.

“What I find most appealing to me about these programs is the opportunity to interact with people from the Middlebury community and beyond, particularly children and to spearhead and witness the wonderful results of celebrating diversity and increasing intercultural awareness.”


Alondra Carmona wears a gray sweatshirt and smiles at the camera.

Alondra Carmona ’21

2020-2021 Newman Civic Fellow

During her time at Middlebury College, Alondra advocated for immigrant rights and took on various leadership roles in community engagement. She was the lead coordinator of Juntos, a student-migrant solidarity group and in 2019 led ten students on a Middlebury Alternative Break Trip in partnership with RAICES to San Antonio, Texas where they worked with individuals who had recently crossed the US-Mexico border. Alondra was named Middlebury College’s Newman Civic Fellow in 2020-2021.

“Growing up in a community of predominantly migrant Latinos, I have seen firsthand the mistreatment of such a community and how it can immobilize not just the individual but the family as well.”

Cross-Cultural Community Engagement Grant Recipients

Every year, the CCE supports a wide variety of student-directed initiatives centered on intercultural service-learning, community-building, and advocacy through the Cross-Cultural Community Grants (or CCCE Grants). 

We asked several of these grant recipients to reflect on their experiences and if they had advice to offer other students interested in applying for a CCCE grant.


Maya Henning `25, Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center

Maya Henning reflects on her internship at the WSORC in Utila, Honduras.

My name is Maya Henning. I’m a junior. My major is conservation bio, and I’m from New York City.

How did you hear about the CCCE grant?

Originally, I was trying to find grants for summer internships because what I was doing was pretty expensive. And I went to CCI first. But they said that they couldn’t fund an internship that was fewer than like eight weeks, I think. So CCI recommended that I find the cross-cultural community engagement grant and I read through it and I realized that it actually did apply to the internship that I was doing, and I thought it was a really great way that it was a rolling basis so I could kind of apply whenever I wanted to. I think I did it pretty late because I didn’t know about it, but it was a really easy process and I could fill out the application and then everyone got back to me pretty quickly. It was also really helpful to propose a budget. I think that was kind of nice because then it catered exactly to what I needed and I didn’t have to feel bad about having extra money left over from something else or like if I needed slightly more than what a different grant could give me. 

What skills did you learn at the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center (WSORC)?

There were a lot of things that I learned here, not on the academic side of things, but I was living on this kind of remote island and it’s very different from any other community that I’ve been in. It’s very isolated. It’s it’s like 7000 people on the whole island. And it was just a totally different way of living that I wasn’t really prepared for, nor was I like expecting necessarily. I think that coming from New York City, it’s very wealthy. And so is Middlebury, but here it was kind of the opposite end of the spectrum. I saw some pretty extreme poverty and it’s just not as safe. So it was just really interesting to navigate being in a culture [where] … all you only use [is] cash and then if the bank runs out of money, it’s just that’s what it is. I learned a lot about how to travel as a solo person and just navigating it myself, and there are of course resources for people to help me. But I think I learned a lot about how to travel to a different country when you don’t know much about it and it’s vastly different from your own. It was also really interesting because everyone there … it was mostly locals and then maybe some people who came for diving. So it was a completely different culture. And I kind of like that too. It was something that… I’d never really been in before. It’s a different pace of life. It’s so detached from electronics and like nobody, not very many people … use their phones a lot or they even have phones. So it was an experience where I felt more connected to the ocean and the other people because nobody was on their phone all the time. And instead, it was just kind of living in the real world and it’s kind of everything but condensed into a smaller area and a smaller community.

I thought it was really fun to go exploring around the island with my friends and kind of learn about all the different cultures that exist and all these people’s different histories because some people were like locals to the island, and also a lot of people from mainland Honduras. And then there were a bunch of tourists who were like from all over. In my internship specifically, some of us were really from the US, but I also had friends from Greece and Brazil, so people from all over. So I was getting to learn about like their past diving experiences and like what they’ve done in like coral restoration and kind of their whole life story that’s completely different from mine.

I think one skill I really did learn about was how to work with somebody on their project and kind of contributing. Knowing that I’m working for them because there is one person who’s the research assistant and he was doing his master’s in nurse shark behavior research, and every intern at the end of the internship had to present a research project that they did, and you can do whatever you want. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be like conducting some lab experiment. But I worked for this person on his nurse shark behavior research, and I was looking at underwater cameras that were that were at a specific location. And I was looking at like behaviors in tag sharks and like, filling out a sheet for him. And I think it was really interesting to kind of have that dynamic of research where you’re working with somebody. You need to have time to plan, work together and meet up. But at the same time, they’re obviously the person who’s kind of in power. So everything kind of still defaults to them. And I still have to be somewhat on their schedule. And it was also interesting because as a research assistant, he was also kind of our mentor. It was an interesting dynamic of a friend, but also somebody I’m working for, but also kind of a mentor, just balancing all of those different things and figuring out like what kind of friendship and relationship I’m going to have with that person. And that was one thing that I learned. 

Another skill that I learned was honestly just diving skills. We did 40 or more dives while I was there. So you’re diving a lot. And I think from before I got there to like at the end, I was a much more competent diver and I feel much more prepared to go out in the future and be able to restore coral reefs and health and more like scientific diving because I’m not just like trying to figure out my buoyancy and stuff.  I can actually go out and be helpful and not just be this extra person that’s kind of disrupting it or like too focused on my own ability to dive, then be able to carry things and help put ointments on or propagate coral trees and stuff like that.

The entire internship is supposed to be marine conservation. So we did a bunch of different activities throughout that were all geared towards conserving the ocean. So I think in environmental and also community impact was we did a lot of work with locals, so we did a beach cleanup where we it was actually really sad. We were cleaning up the north side of the island and there were so many microplastics and just so much trash. And we did it for like a couple of hours. But by the end, it still looked like we hadn’t made a dent, which was really frustrating, really sad. And in the end, it’s because it all comes like the currents come and crash on the north side. So that’s where it’s all coming from. It just piles up. But the sad part is it’s also a turtle nesting ground. So it’s really tricky because there’s so much trash and these turtles are just not going to survive. Their beach is just so damaged. But I think we left. We were making an impact, even if it felt like nothing we were still helping the community, helping by cleaning it up and for the coral nurseries that are partnered with another organization. We were there on some days and then other organizations would come on different days and we’d kind of all work together to keep the trees clean and to put the corals on. So there’s a lot of work with the locals, which I appreciate because I think sometimes internships go in and they do their work and then they leave, but you don’t actually get to interact with the people who are living there.

I thought it was really valuable to be able to talk to locals, kind of hear their stories, hear their views, and the fact that my internship is working with all of these other organizations that are based in new to us so everyone can kind of communicate and figure out the problem because conservation is not just for one organization to fix. Everyone really needs to work together, get ideas and brainstorm. So I appreciated that. And I think that helped positively impact the community and also the environment. In terms of what we did, we we did a lot of conservation work in the reef itself. So I think that definitely helped the environment in that sense and the resource monitors a group of tagged corals and they have like a map of where all these corals are and they visit it once a month and apply the ointment and kind of document them, take photos to see like if stony coral tissue loss is spreading or if they’re kind of doing okay.

With that monitoring system, it’s really helpful because some of them are recovering, which is shocking because the diseases like pretty fatal, but the ointment stops the spread. It doesn’t, it doesn’t like cure it, but it stops incidents. Sometimes the coral can then recover. So I think we did a lot of good work there. And then in terms of lionfish, they reproduce so quickly they can eat a ton and nothing sees them as a predator because they’re invasive. All of the organisms in the reef just don’t even consider them. They kind of just look at them and don’t realize that it’s a predator and then the lionfish eats them. Nurse sharks in the end can eat them, but they won’t recognize them as food on their own. But if one was presented to another shark, it would eat and it would be fine. So I think that the whole goal of the internship was to do active restoration in that sense, but also the educational aspect. So when we would have lectures and stuff, a big emphasis was how are we going to teach this to other people and other communities? Not necessarily just even in New Taylor But when we get home and like talking to people at school and raising awareness about coral reef conservation, but also how humans can kind of limit their impacts on the environment at large.

We discussed at one point how to interact with whale sharks because my internship, they helped create the laws of how you interact with whale sharks and how close you can get. And it was really interesting to have that discussion because they even asked us what we thought about those recommendations and if we agreed with them if there were things that we thought should change. And I really appreciated that because we’re students, they’re experts and they were still consulting our opinions and what we thought. And it was an open discussion. And I think that kind of open discussion and collaboration in science is super important. And I thought that was a good step and a good role model for other organizations to do that and for future conferences and science to have kind of an even playing field for everyone to contribute their ideas.

How did the internship resonate with you? Did it influence the direction you want to take in your studies or career?

WSORC was purposefully my attempt to do field research after I did lab research in the coral area of study. But I think this internship really helped me choose my career path a little bit because doing this, I realized for sure that I love the field research side. I love diving. I want to be in the water all the time. Going down into a coral reef is like nothing else. Like it’s it’s beautiful. It’s just so enjoyable and it’s a different world down there. So I think this internship really taught me one more about what I want to do in the future. And I’ve known for a while that I plan to get a Ph.D., go to grad school, and have it be pertaining to coral reefs. I think this really helped me realize that I really like the field research. I like learning about coral reefs. I don’t mind going to school for a longer amount of time because it’s so rewarding to make a discovery or to learn something that will help other people combat this crisis as well. And so this was kind of just building my skills from previous summers, and it kind of all stacks up as stepping stones towards where I’m going to go in the future.

Now I’m planning to start my thesis during Jay term, but this summer I will be doing more field research and doing the research aspect and collecting data for my thesis, which is on tissue loss disease in to genuses of coral …  in Hawaii, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on tissue loss disease. But also these two genuses are never mentioned in literature. So the goal for this is now to take all the skills I’ve learned in the past few years in research in the lab and research in the field and tie it all together for my thesis, where I’ll be able to do some lab research, go in the field, collect data, refine my methodology, and then hopefully produce a paper that has some findings that are relevant and helpful for the scientific community. 

So I think all of the diving skills that I’ve learned, all the classroom skills, of course, all the baseline knowledge about coral reefs and about different marine ecosystems and how they interact are going to be helpful and especially learning a little bit about tissue loss disease from two years ago and then last year because not much is known about it. We think it’s bacteria born. Then there are some pieces of literature that kind of contradict that. So there’s a big mystery about tissue loss disease. So there’s a lot of room for discoveries and to research it. So I’m really excited to start the summer and I think that the work helped me and prepared me for my thesis.

What advice do you have for students interested in applying for a CCCE grant?

Advice for applying for a CCCE grant I would say is to find an internship that you’re really passionate about and that you’re excited to write about because in the application process, you really want to have something to say, but that you truly mean. And I think that when I’m writing, I know the difference between when I’m writing something, I’m like, I have to write about this topic, but it doesn’t interest me versus when I’m writing for my heart and writing about things that really matter to me. And I think for this grant there are a lot of essay questions and prompts that are asking you to reflect on yourself and how this internship will affect you and the people around you. So I think having an internship that you’re excited to go to and you’re very open to learning new things, having new experiences, being uncomfortable and reflecting on that in the application creates a way more genuine application where the reader really gets to know who you are and what you’re passionate about, your values and those are all really important to share. 

I think the application process overall went really smoothly. I think having a rolling basis is really helpful because whenever you get your internship and you confirm it, then you can go and apply for the grant so you don’t have to wait a long time or like be stressed about a deadline. It also kind of incentivizes getting it done early to be one of the first people to apply. Knowing that I was someone who was applying really late last year, I still was able to get funding. So I really appreciated that. It wasn’t all gone by the time I was going to apply. It was also really helpful to reach out to the people who could help me and answer my questions. So I would email a lot and I would get really quick responses that would help me with my application. And then you propose a budget, which I thought was helpful because it made me do a really solid breakdown of how much I would actually be spending there, which is helpful for myself. Anyway, it was also great because I could ask for an amount of money that was appropriate for my internship so I wouldn’t have leftover money that I didn’t know what to do with and felt badly about because I took it away from somebody else. But also if I needed slightly more money than some other grants, I was able to ask for that and it made me feel more confident, confident about doing my internship because I knew I had support from Middlebury and the CCE. So I would say start the process early because that’s always important and be in touch, be excited, and write from your heart and write what you think is important to you. I always find it easiest to write everything out on paper and then go and refine it afterward because some of my most genuine thoughts are the first things I write. So that would be my advice. And then there’s a budget template. You can look at that, but if you need help, I always ask either my parents or I reach out to the office and they’ll gladly.

Fabien Achinda `25, The Mount Olive Education Act

Fabien Achinda talks about his work supporting first-generation refugee high-school students navigate the college application process. 

Hello, I’m Fabien Achinda. I’m originally from Africa, but right now I live in Saint Louis, Missouri. I am a 3rd year here, at Middlebury College, I am a junior I’m majoring in classical studies. My program is a nonprofit out of Saint Louis, Missouri that is supposed to help educate the migrant youths. Usually they’re about first-generation to second-generation. And all that we do is we educate them about college, what it is, or any other post-high school options, and then we assess them for the process. Yeah, that’s me.

How did you hear about the CCCE grant?

So initially I was looking at some other grants on campus, and I applied to one, and I didn’t get it, and I was very upset and I was very sad because I felt like I left my community down because, you know, I had made promises to them that they, like, you know, this year would make a bigger event. It’ll be fun. We’ll have food and this and that. And, you know, we’ll have rides for people, we will pay for gas. So when I didn’t get that initial grant it really broke my heart because I felt like I had let my community down. But I spoke to Mr. Jason who worked at the CCE and Jason was like, listen man you know, there’s another grant that’s actually meant to help students with these types of programs, obviously referring to the CCCE Grant. And so I got online, I emailed, I think it was Ms. Cleveland, and then I asked her if I still had time to apply. At that point, I was a little bit late. She said, yes, very kindly. And so I immediately applied. And about two weeks later, I got it. So I heard it from Mr. Jason, who works at the CCE. I came from Tanzania and when I came from Tanzania, I came here ten years ago and I arrived actually here in Vermont, in Charlotte, which is the town over. And I was here for about four years, and then I moved to Saint Louis, Missouri.

In Vermont, there wasn’t a lot of African people. It was mostly white people, as you know. So when I went to Missouri, there’s a big community of African immigrants, kids my age, a little bit older, parents, grandparents so on and so forth. And when I was applying to colleges, I realized that  I didn’t know anything about the process. I didn’t know anything about financial aid […]and that really the only person that I could really rely on are my older siblings who they themselves got help from someone. The assistance of my mother, well, my godmother, someone who I came to know here in America who used to work in admissions and then I and then I had a really, really hands on counselor. And they both were like, so amazing with me. And they spent a lot of time teaching me how to apply, what to do, what to avoid, what to reach out for. And eventually I applied. But after I did that, I realized that many of my friends at church, many of my friends, my community didn’t have this magical godmother who was, you know, in admissions and didn’t have a counselor who was willing to work outside of school and meet with you a day before Christmas to help you. They didn’t have that. So I realized that I was very blessed in that sense.

So one of my friends, Moses, actually who was my first student, came to me, asked me for help. And so I helped him out with that. And then I realized then, like there are other kids like Moses who are smart or ambitious, who want to go to college, but don’t know how to do it, but don’t have someone to help them understand or learn about college like I did with my godmother or my cousin. That’s pretty much where it began. I realized I was blessed and that my other friends weren’t and that actually this could be a bigger cultural problem for us immigrants here because we don’t have parents who went to college, we don’t have grandparents who went to college. We really are here for the first time ever and we don’t know anything about the system.

So after I thought about this idea, after I helped out my friend Moses, I thought about the idea, I wrote, I think was like a 13 page plan of how I was going to do it. And what was the issue, my motives and how I’m going to implement my solutions to the issue and I brought it to one of my church leaders at the time who helped me out because I knew that I wanted to run this program, but I knew that I needed to have the space to do it. And the church was a good place for it. So I went to my church leader to help me get approval from the higher-ups at church for space. And one of my best friends, Justice really helped me out as well because when you’re running the program you can’t do everything. And so my friend Justice was very helpful, you know, with rides with the students before I even met with them. And so I wrote this thing and in this thing, I, I thought to myself, what is the problem? And the problem, I realized was twofold. The first issue was information. We’re immigrants. This is our first time in America our parents don’t really have much. We don’t have much to offer us when it comes to this realm of higher academia. So the first issue was information, the second issue had to do with help, assistance, more like outreach, right? Okay, you can teach someone how to apply, but sometimes that isn’t enough because sometimes you need to be with them on a Zoom call before Christmas Day or you need to be with them. And help them learn about these things. So I realized for myself, I wouldn’t have been able to apply. But if I just been told this how you do it, you know, I really was able to do it because I got help from my mom and my counselor.

And so that was … those were the two issues we needed to address: the information issue and then address the issue of hands-on, one-on-one help for the students. I would say, the I heard it somewhere online from a psychologist, they mentioned that like sometimes what is little to you can be so big to someone else. And so I like working with the kids for like an hour a week or 2 hours a week can really create a really big, big effect on someone’s life because, you know, that would lead to them going to college and them having a good job that would help them get their parents out of poverty. That’s one thing that I learned is that like, even though what I’m doing seems to be menial, like working on the ground, it could have a really big effect on the future.

Secondly, I think I learned a lot about planning and how important it is to be really steadfast with making plans because people rely on you to have that event every year and you got to have it. And so I think I’ve learned a lot about about planning. So, the result that my initial goal is to most of our families are poor, most of our parents are not financially literate. Right? All they do is they work really hard for us and they maintain us. Now, it is our job as the kids to go to school and get educated and earn money to help them move out of poverty, that is at the core of the program, it’s self-betterment for the betterment of our parents and our future families. And so I have a two kids who fit this model really greatly. My first student well, a student that I helped two years ago, his name is Dea, it’s a French name, and Dea is a very smart kid, he applied to the school in Missouri and normally Dea would have to pay a lot of money to go there. But because me and him worked together we found out solutions, Dea is going to that school for free now and now his parents don’t have to take out. The other kid called […] who is just a superstar. I actually helped her apply last year, this was her first year in college, and she has the same story. You know, her parents don’t have a lot of money, but because she worked with me and our program, we were able to find her a school that would take her for pretty much little money and with the help of other programs she went there for free as well. So theseare two stories that come out of my head. But ideally, like our job is to take the pressure off of the parents. If not now, if let’s say the kid doesn’t have a great GPA. so they have to pay money maybe later after they graduate, they have a job that could really alleviate that financial pressure that our parents feel.

How has the experience impacted you?

You know, I - I’m really a goofy person, I like to joke around, but I’m beginning to realize that people are depending on me now and that I kind of have to start being more serious and be more rigorous with myself as a person. And so I feel like one big effect that it has taken on me is it makes me think twice about my actions because like again, people are depending on me and my program. You can’t act in a silly way, like you can’t flunk out of school. You got to be an example. So when I’m here in school, I have to perform well […] for the reasons, but one of which is to show my students, you know, you know, it’s possible for an African to come to school that’s good and to do well. And so one of the effects on me is that it’s definitely made me more self-conscious maybe more like it makes me […] it makes me think more about my actions before I do them. It makes me like I, I would say I have a higher sense of discretion before I do anything because I know that I have kids who are looking up to me and I have parents who are looking for me to be the example for communities. And I would say this is the same thing for everyone working in my team. I think I think we all have the sense that we’re older guys who are leading the young generation and we cannot be, you know, we can have fun and joke around. But you have to understand that people are looking to us for guidance or to be the example. And so that’s definitely… I’m acting, I’m a lot more cautious about what I do. How I say what I say when I’m around parents or even here, like, you know, it’s important to show a good example.

What advice do you have for students interested in applying for a CCCE grant?

I’d say be very organized. I think the CCE’s very generous but you want to come up with a plan, 
a really solid budget to show them this is this is my program, this is what I do, this is my plan, and show them exactly what you’re doing and how you’ll spend every dollar, every cent. I think that way it helps them decide if you come in and say, I have an idea, but you don’t really. But you’re not really organized. That isn’t going to help anybody. It isn’t going to help you or them, you know, it’s important to come in organized. Think about your plan, think about your program. Have a solution, have a plan and come in and then tell them about it. And then ask for funds.

Arthur Martins, `24.5 Pride Beyond Borders

Arthur Martins reflects on his project Pride Beyond Borders.

Hi, my name is Arthur Martins. I come from Brasilia in Brazil. I’m a member of the class of 23.5.
And at Middlebury, I majored in English and gender sexuality and feminist studies.

I heard about the CCCE grant as I was looking for ways to enrich my summer experiences this past year, and I found information first on the website and then back in the spring semester, I met with the ever-welcoming CCE staff who helped me articulate how my ideas fit within the grant requirements and walked me through the application process. Similarly, in the fall, working with Kailee was instrumental in fine-tuning my proposals and expanding on the relationships I built over the summer to make possible the continuation and expansion of this project that connects organizations between Brazil and the U.S..

The name of my project is Pride Beyond Borders, and it was an initiative that sought to connect and create an exchange of experiences and funding between the US and Brazil-based organizations serving queer communities. One of the things that made me really passionate about engaging with this grant is that I saw a need to use myself as a resource. Being in this in-between position, studying at Middlebury, but being Brazilian. I thought of ways of connecting. what are the expertise’s of the academic knowledge, but also the lot of resources that are available from US grant-giving organizations and bringing that knowledge, expertise and funding to communities serving in Brazil. One of the main challenges that face nonprofit organizations globally is funding, and this is especially the case with organizations that serve multiple marginalized communities despite the important work that is done to serve LGBTQ communities by a range of NGOs, both in Brazil and in the U.S., they are comparatively underfunded by philanthropic organizations.  And so I through my work earlier in the summer and also learned about the limits of donor individual giving and in low and middle income communities in Brazil.

So I asked myself, what can I do from my position of in-between-ness in connection with Middlebury, but also with other networks here in the U.S. to maximize the connection and the exchange of experiences between funders, activists, organizers and organizations themselves. So I launched into this project to learn more about grantmaking, to learn more about intercultural cooperation, and how we can empower people across different cultural contexts who are engaged in similar work by connecting them. Sometimes.

The project ended up taking an unexpected turn throughout the semester where I departed from an explicit focus with working with the LGBTQ organizations and branched with work into other organizations that are based in Brasilia. One example was my work with the Brazilians Association for People with Mood Disorders, an association that is led in support of people that have experienced depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues as well as their families. So that was one of the organizations that I worked with, and I assisted them remotely with revamping the marketing and communications, and outreach efforts that they had, working closely with their board to support their return to in-person meetings, collaborating with local doctors and health care providers to create a list of accessible resources, especially for people that do not have access to private health insurance in Brazil. Our work also included bringing a more intersectional approach to the kind of content that they created geared internally to the ways that gender, sexuality, race, class also impact people’s access to mental health care. In the U.S. that I’ve been focusing on, as I have been here physically, presence at Middlebury, I connected with queer serving organizations in New York City and Boston to learn about the kinds of services that they develop. So community centers, mobile libraries like the nonbinarian or encouraging community organizations that encourage community artmaking as a means of fostering community like queer art in New York and and learning from their different models of initiative and development I went back and shared these with other organizations that I had been in contact with in Brazil, such as the LGBTQ Institute in Brasilia. So those were a few of the of the partners that I that I brought into this conversation.

One of the main skills I learned about this project and doing this, this process with the grant is the need for the clear messaging and expectations of your commitments when you’re collaborating, particularly when you’re doing so remotely or across cultural contexts, listening and following the lead of the people on the ground as it related to how it could be most usefulwas essential to ensuring that I was not imposing what I saw as necessary, but really in making myself the most useful for these organizations. Preexisting projects and and objectives. When it came to outreach to businesses and institutions, as I also was exploring some DEI related projects on the side, having other research on the specific needs of these communities and organizations in advance of contacting them is something that I’ll take on with me professionally as I also become more inclined to work independently with grant making in the future. I feel one of the most impactful things of doing this work was a shared sense of purpose and feeling the kinds of of possibilities for intercultural communication and cooperation when coming to the partner organizations, many of which are in my hometown and and feeling connected despite my distance to them and their project.

In the case of APTA the organization in Brasilia that I spoke about before, seeing how it generated new engagement and a fresh sense of morale for the other volunteers as well as we professionalized How the association looks like on social media and towards other people to be involved was really fulfilling. And although because of the nature of the grant-giving cycle in the US, we weren’t really able to work to secure any grants during this fall I feel very hopeful and prepared in this coming cycle in 2024 to build on these relationships and the work that we did and learning how these organizations operate and what they need to translate this into fruits in the coming months. And so where it touches me personally. 

One of the greatest experiences stemming from this is the feeling of giving back to my communities in Brazil that I have long been a part of. But being apart from as I have continued and finished my education here at Middlebury. I will move to Brazil in the more immediate months after my graduation. I feel a deep sense of being connected and on the ground with my family and friends and the people I’ve been working with throughout the semester.

And afterward, I’m unsure. But I feel very confident in the ways that a lot of the learning that I did through this project that involved independent research and engaging in kinds of professional experiences that also empowered me to lead a more nomadic life going from different communities and bringing this kind of knowledge like a pollinator, learning from and with and sharing these experiences across different cultural contexts is something that empowers me to to go forth in the world and learn from even a wider range of context and people that are engaged in similar work globally.

One thing that I also feel this experience has brought is the oddness involved in working remotely with people and through technology. although we’ve gotten used to that after COVID, but it also highlighted to me that a lot of the work that can be done in support of organizations or important initiatives that are supporting people on the ground is administrative work and work that happens behind the scenes or behind a computer or remotely in doing translation and connecting. And so I think that’s important learning too to think of what cooperation and engagement looks like, but it’s very easy to think through a front facing public facing, being at the frontline of things. So much of this important work is bureaucratic and there is such beauty also engaging and assisting with that work, especially as it relates to translating between languages and with a knowledge of how each space’s specific bureaucracy works. That I found is a very important skill to have and share.

If you’re looking to apply for the CCCE grant, do it. Apply. Discuss your ideas with the CCE staff. They are so welcoming and ready to make your drive passion and ambition turn into a reality. It’s helpful to have a clear sense of what kinds of skills and projects you’d like to bring forward to other cultural contexts and thinking of the culture also more broadly, not necessarily as nationality and and culture in that sense, but inter-generationally or even in one community. There can be many different ways that the culture expresses itself.

And finally, I think remaining open to the kinds of new connections and challenges that will emerge that can take you to unexpected directions, as this have for me, reshaped how I think of my professional future and the kinds of impacts and conversations that can bring to the world.

Privilege & Poverty

The Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster (P&P) is a learning community that brings classrooms and communities together to address the causes and consequences of poverty and cultivate lifelong ethical participation in society. P&P students are placed in internships either locally in Addison County or nationally through the Shepherd Consortium. 

What students are saying about the P&P internship experience:

Ellie Cady, Privilege & Poverty Intern

Privilege & Poverty intern, Ellie Cady, reflects on her summer internship with the Charter House.

Hello, my name is Ellie Katie, and I am an intern at the CC this fall. I also interned at the Privilege and Poverty Academic Cluster over the summer where I was placed at the Charter House, a low-barrier homeless shelter there. I worked on a variety of things, like supporting the shelter staff as well as the shelter guests. I also was able to sit in on some of the housing coalition meetings that different nonprofits across the county had, and this was really beneficial to gain a better understanding of some of the work that different nonprofits and service agencies are doing across the county to help support individuals who are housing insecure. 

I am a psychology major with global health and Spanish minors, and this internship at the Charter House was something that I was initially interested in. I felt like it suited some of the skills that I already had, and I was in the process of exploring different potential careers that I might that I might have in the future. And that’s the beauty of the Privilege and poverty program because you were able to take some of the skills that you have and some of the interests that you have and find a job and an internship that really is suited for you. It really has provided a lot of guidance to me and what I want to do this fall. I’ve been able to continue some of that work as a CC intern and it connected me to so many different individuals across Addison County and in Middlebury. I felt much more connected to the town that I’m going to school in and even developed different relationships with people in the program. 

When I first found out that I got the internship and I’d be in Middlebury, someone told me that living in Middlebury is during the summer is a magical time. And it really was. I was able to explore different areas of Vermont, get into open water, swimming. I’m a I used to swim and a swim team so I was able to start open water swimming at Lake Dunmore in the early mornings and explore different hiking trails and different swimming holes and also got to meet so many different people who are working here over the summer. There are so many people here over the summer, so it is wonderful. If that is something you’re worried about, don’t be. It has been such a lovely experience. It experience that I could not recommend it more. If you do have any questions about any part of the application process or even if you want to know more about the work of the Charter House where I worked over the summer, I created a comprehensive guide of the work that I did with different resources. I can pass it along if you want to review that before applying, but I’m also able to answer some more general questions as well. My email is e, o, c, a, d, y, and Middlebury dot edu. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be happy to have a meeting or just answer some of your questions over email.
Good luck applying.

Emma Henry stands outside, smiling with two thumbs up, wearing a blue vest.
Emma Henry worked as a medical interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at the Open Door Clinic.

Emma Henry ’25

P&P Intern with Open Door Clinic

Do it. It’s gonna be awesome. You’re gonna learn so much and you’re gonna be able to see parts of Middlebury that you’ve never seen before… It can be hard to get off campus and it sometimes feels like J term and the summer are the only times that you can do that… But it’s really valuable to stay in Middlebury during these times, working off campus with people who are not just 19 and 20-year-olds who are in your shoes. 

Picture of the bed of a pick-up truck packed with crates of farm-fresh food: cucumbers and summer squash.
Leslie Ramirez delivered fresh food from local farms for HOPE. 

Leslie Ramirez ’25

P&P Intern with HOPE and Atria Collective

Working at HOPE definitely changed where I see myself in a few years and where I want to be after I graduate. I’m a global security major and so I thought I wanted to work at the UN, travel the world, work at an office, and tell people what to do for a living. I saw myself wearing business casual, being out and about in the world and maybe one day I will. Though this summer as I drove this truck around picking up and counting produce, talking to farmers, walking people through the food pantry, and organizing food deliveries [I realized] that I want to first-hand help people. I don’t want to be writing policies, deeming something right or wrong, vaguely condemning behavior and then hoping it’ll change people’s lives and solve all the greed in this world. Perhaps I’ll end up doing something along those lines, though for now I actually want to be on the ground working with these people that I care for and wish to help. I realized that to have change in this world (you) have to work with your local communities that are hurting. The answer is not leaving them, you know?

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