This summer, six Middlebury Institute students served as scholars in the Middlebury Social Impact Corps, partnering with Middlebury College interns to collaborate with community organizations on sustainable social change projects
Students engaged in hands-on work that fosters intercultural communication, ethical research methods, and community engagement in three diverse contexts: Bahamas (Cape Eleuthera Institute), Peru (Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development), and Monterey (Impact Monterey County).
As part of a team that included Emily Hoang MPA/MAIEM ‘20 and four undergraduate students from Middlebury College, Adam Schreier MPA ’20 worked to build and conduct a community needs and aspirations assessment throughout Monterey County. The assessment will be used by Impact Monterey County, a collaborative network of non-profits, public agencies, private businesses, and individuals that has been working to improve life in Monterey County since 2015. “Through our promotion of the assessment, as well as through interviews and focus groups that we conducted, my team and I had the opportunity to connect with people all over Monterey County and learn about the issues that matter most in their communities,” Adam shares and adds that it was a valuable learning experience. “I am looking forward to staying involved in work that affects the lives of people here in the county!”
International Environmental Policy students Alexandra Seidel MAIEP ’20, and Cameron Steagall MAIEP ’20 spent the summer in Peru with a team of Middlebury College students. They worked with the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD), an organization in Peru that was founded by two Middlebury Institute graduates of the Public Administration program, Aaron Ebner MPA ‘11, and Adam Steiglitz MPA ’11. “The opportunity I had to work with AASD through Middlebury Social Impact Corps was unlike any experience I’ve had before,” shares Steagall. “The AASD program is almost completely autonomous which forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experiment and problem solve to find the best solutions. The entire program is focused around ensuring personal development - not necessarily deadlines or a final product like in your typical work place. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with AASD this past summer; I know that I have grown tremendously and have also been able to further develop my career path.”
Bailey Warren MAIEP ’21 and Sean McClellan MAIEP ’20 worked with Middlebury College undergraduate students at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas. In between spending time on the boat running pelagic longline surveys with the Exuma Sound Ecosystem Research Project, or in the dry lab prepping stable isotope samples, Warren found time to work on her graduate level project trying to quantify the social impact of the organization in The Bahamas. "My time at CEI was irreplaceable, I was not only able to gain experience with tropical marine research but also with an international NGO, their work with the local community, and all that that encompasses. This confirmed my goal of working with island nation communities on climate change mitigation and coastal protection, depending on what that community needs." McClellan says the experience helped him better understand his values and desires as it relates to international development. "I made good friends and got to work with some amazing people. It gave me an opportunity to apply what I learned in class, especially inter-cultural competence, which will be crucial for my future career."
The Middlebury Social Impact Corps is based on the 6 pillars of social impact-learning: adaptability, inquiry, commitment, partnership, narrative, and reflection. Students participate in an in-depth pre-departure training, various reflections during the program, and a group debrief upon their return. “The cohort-based program is a wonderful example of the myriad ways that MIIS and Middlebury College can build upon individual and collective strengths for ethical community engagement and broader societal change,” says Associate Professor Netta Avineri, faculty advisor to the Middlebury Social Impact Corps Scholars program.
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