CSGC Summer Grant Showcase

To celebrate and support our students’ desire to become active and thoughtful citizens, the Center for Service and Global Citizenship offers a number of summer grants. Here are just a few of the grant recipients’ accounts of their summer experience:

Volunteering on the CRST Reservation

This summer I received a grant from Deerfield to spend a week volunteering at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, a Native American reservation in South Dakota, with a non-profit organization called Simply Smiles. The Simply Smiles community center is based in La Plant, a small, broken, and impoverished community. Every day the other volunteers, interns, and staff of Simply Smiles worked for hours on construction projects around the community, such as building a playground for the children or a new house for a family in La Plant. In the afternoons we held Summer Camp for the kids, where we had the opportunity to really connect with them and guide them in thinking positively about their futures. With all of the hopelessness, bullying, and suicides in this community, the love and inspiration given at Simply Smiles is helping to save these children’s lives.

My favorite experience in La Plant was watching members of the community, from toddlers to the elders, dance in their annual powwow. It was a special opportunity to see these Lakota embracing their native culture and we were grateful that they shared this tradition with us.

If you are interested in learning more about Simply Smiles and the incredible work that they do, visit their website and blog at www.simplysmiles.org or check out their Facebook page!

CRST Reservaton 5 Majercak CRST Reservation Majercak CRST Reservation 4 Majercak CRST Reservation 3 Majercak

Workman Grant: Service with the PEACH Foundation

Over the past three summers, I have volunteered with the PEACH Foundation, which aims to educate the impoverished children in the Yunnan Province of China. This summer was different. With the Workman Grant, I was able to create art classes in addition to the English classes volunteers taught. I purchased a range of art supplies with the grant before I went to PEACH–pencils, pastels, colored pencils, sharpies, paper, and erasers.

Upon arrival to PEACH, I took some time out of each day to give the students the opportunity to let their imagination flow onto the paper. Most of my students had never partaken in any visual arts related activities so it was exciting to observe them as they started their journey to becoming artists. What will forever be etched in my memory was the expression on their faces. When they started drawing, their faces seemed to be filled with angst, longing, and a sorrow inside. As time progressed, their faces seemed more relaxed and happy. Art allowed them to loosen up and express themselves wholeheartedly.

Some students, especially the guys in my class, initially dismissed art as a waste of time. However, after a few art classes, they open up their hearts to the endless possibilities of art. I wanted to open up the option of art for them as an outlet and a journey to resolving any inner conflicts. These art classes allowed the students to convey their emotions without being judged. These art classes also gave them a life-long practice of expression that fosters creativity and open-mindedness.

Besides using the grant to buy art supplies, I also put together a book that will be sold online. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to provide educational opportunities for the impoverished children in the Yunnan Province of China.

For more information about PEACH Foundation, please visit peachfoundationusa.org.

— Rachel Yao ’16

Workman Grant: Books for Kids

This past summer, I donated books to two primary schools in rural China while learning about the lives of the kids there. My visit to one of the schools was a revisit and it felt good to be back to the place after two years, while the other visit was to a new school and I was able to get to know the place and donate a library there.

With the $500 I received from the Workman Service Grant, some good discounts and some help from friends, I was able to acquire over 450 books for these two schools. 280 of these books were donated to the new school, and there, the fourth ‘Star Library’ was built. The rest were donated during my revisit to the school where the first ‘Star Library’ was built 3/18/2013.

This trip, however, was not all about books; I learned quite a lot about the life of children in rural areas and reflected on how we must not take what we have for granted. Many of the kids had parents working in cities far away from home, and some have not seen their parents since 2013; quite a few of the kids desired books, but are unable to acquire them because their family had limited resources; almost all of the kids I met walked to school each day, and all of them marveled at the car that we drove to the school; and for some kids, a bottle of water was a luxury. Learning about these things made me think about how much we take for granted some of the things we have (not only technology, but also the people around us and the our opportunities in life), and we can and should be more grateful and make better use of the things that we have.

I entered the summer with the goal of bringing the books to the kids and hence help them gain knowledge; I walked away from the project this summer with much more. The times that I spent with the kids at the two schools were incredible; if you would like to learn more about my project or experience, feel free to email me at jxu18@deerfield.edu.

— Johnny Xu ’18

Complexities of the Middle East

The news bombards us with snapshots about the numerous and seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East region. We’ve all heard of them—the ISIS threat, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—but do we really understand the context and full history behind them? How did such animosity between groups of people originate, and how could they exist for thousands of years? The overall complexities defy the simple explanations that the media provides. This summer I developed and shared a presentation about the history and conflicts in the Middle East with the hope to contextualize the news that we hear today and reduce misunderstandings about the region. I learned an incredible amount about the Middle East through this process. It was a very satisfying experience to know that I imparted knowledge to my community.

Please reach out to me if you’re interested in learning more about my research or my summer grant experience!

— Madisen Siegel ’17

Summer Service at Shepherd’s Field Orphanage: Two Perspectives

Maggie Yin ’16 Workman Grant Project

I returned to Shepherd’s Field Orphanage this summer in Langfang, China hauling 20 bottles of paint, a large roll-up canvas, and various instruments. This time I continued teaching music classes for two groups of children each day, using the xylophones, recorders, and percussion instruments purchased with the Workman Grant. On the first day of class, I told the kids we would review “Hot Cross Buns,” the song we worked hard on last summer. Before I could remind them of the notes or the words, they jumped up and down saying “I remember!” and sang through the whole song for me, recalling every word.

Regarding the paint and canvas, I decided to create a mural with the kids to hang up in the orphanage’s main office as a welcome banner. I worked with a few other interns to design and paint the landscape, then had the children put their own handprints/footprints onto the painting. For an orphanage that already has a large amount of donations and sponsorship, the banner we made together is perhaps something different—a memory, a representation of the time we spent together, or a way to express my own gratitude towards Shepherd’s Field.

My week at the orphanage flew by, and it was truly everything I remembered and loved about the first time and more. I met and connected with new children, new interns and volunteers, and even got to hear two amazing stories from both the founder of the orphanage, Tim Baker, and 18-year old Grady, who shared his own story about how Shepherd’s Field came to be his home. I am forever amazed by the happiness I see in the children and the feeling that they are not only part of the Shepherd’s Field community, but a real family.

Erika Warren ’18

Although I only volunteered at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village for a week, my time there was one of the most enriching experiences in my life and left a deep impression on me. The community at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, with its prevailing sense of selflessness and empathy, really resonated with me. This community allowed me to create many strong bonds, not only with the other interns, but also with the orphans themselves. It really surprised me how such a large group of orphans became my second family in a mere week.

During my stay, I took care of the younger orphans by playing with them and taking them out for a walk. I discovered that receiving love and care is vital for the orphans because it brings happiness and a ray of hope to their lives. For the older orphans, I taught them English and Chinese classes for a few hours each day. I still vividly recall reciting the ancient Chinese poems in the textbook many times and hearing the enthusiastic echo of the children after each sentence I said.

One thing that really stuck in my mind was how cheerful the orphans were despite their heart-wrenching and traumatic pasts. They were content with the simplest of things and they took nothing for granted. Wide grins would spread across their faces as they played outside with kites or old toys. Although I served as a teacher at the Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village, the children also taught me a very valuable lesson. As I walked away from the orphanage, I learnt that happiness is subjective and therefore each day, I would appreciate even the smallest good thing that happened to me.

Please reach out to me (mzyin@deerfield.edu) or Erika (ewarren18@deerfield.edu) in person or through email if you are interested in hearing more/want to get involved with Shepherd’s Field!

Workman Grant: Start-up Museum

11891996_664242277044476_4460731447028418205_nThis summer I spent time volunteering with a start-up museum in Delft, the Netherlands. In an effort to bring an international contribution to a museum based on the history of the London stock exchange in Delft, I worked with the owners on making their museum attractive to different cultures. De Beurs van Londen Museum (The London Stock Exchange Museum) has brought to life fantastic stories about the connection between England and the Netherlands in the 17th century which would have never been uncovered had the owners of the house not inquired further about the pictures hidden beneath paint on the walls. History is about the ordinary people and events as much as it is about the famous ones, and De Beurs van Londen exposes a history of a few traders who show us so much about larger diplomatic relations from over 300 years ago until today.

— Lyric Perot ’16

 

 

Connecting Back to The Earth

Over this summer, I spent most of the week working at Noonday Farm, a not for profit farm that grows vegetables and raises chickens to donate to local families struggling with food insecurity. See a video about it. Along with donating food, the farm also gives free workshops on how to start a garden of your own. We helped three families start vegetable gardens where it used to be just grass and dirt. Read a journal of my time at the farm or learn more about Noonday. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day! -Owen MacPhee ’18

Second Helpings Summer

Every Monday from June 1st up until August 31st, I have been going to Second Helpings in Greenfield to prepare and serve free meals to locals who need it. I have learned so much in the short time that I have been doing this, and it has really opened my eyes to how fortunate I really am. I started going to Second Helpings in the winter term of 2014-2015 for my community service co-curricular. I had no idea what to expect when I walked into St. James church for the first time. Right as we walked in, we were put right to work. We prepared the salad, put out the plates and silverware, and heated up the main meal (The Dining Hall makes the food for Second Helpings).

Towards the end of the school year I received an email from Maggie Sweeney, who runs Second Helpings. She was looking for a day student to help her keep Second Helpings going while she went on vacation. I told her I would help out, but I didn’t expect how grateful she would be for this. She has finally been able to take a vacation for the first time in a very long time because she felt comfortable enough that Second Helpings was going to continue running without any issues.

I never realized how fortune I really am until I was faced with people who are not so fortunate. I have heard and seen so many things that break my heart. Some but not all of the people that take advantage of the free meals don’t have anywhere to stay, and some live in shelters or outdoors. After the meal is served, there is a chance for people to come up and take home any leftovers, and a lot of people take home the extra food. For some people, the take homes are their only food for the next couple days, or even until the next Monday. This really opened my eyes because I have never had to worry about whether or not I will have enough food to eat. This is sometimes a daily struggle for some people because they are not only trying to provide for themselves, but also trying to provide for the rest of their families. I have been told on many occasions that some people take home extra food for people that they know that are either too embarrassed to come, or cannot physically make it to the meal. That is always hard to hear because there are so many people that could use the extra help but have too much pride to come.

I have also made great connections with some of the people that come to Second Helpings. There are multiple people that I know by name and they know me by name. A lot of the people come for not only the food, but also to socialize. Many know each other but don’t get to see each other that often, other than Mondays at the meals. It is great to see people socializing and having a good time, even if it is only for a short amount of time.

Second Helpings is such a great opportunity for people to receive a little extra help if they need it. It is a greatly needed service for so many people, and I don’t know what some people would do if it were ever to become unavailable. Thank you so much to the Workman family for making the grant available, it is going towards a greatly needed and appreciated cause!

— Shelby Scarborough ’17

Drought

Fire Danger: EXTREME. Montana has always been a dry state, but this summer we are facing one of the worst water-shortage in twenty years. This lack of rain is making my xeriscaping project all the more important (and harder). Normally the forest fire danger waits until August to become so severe but this past winter we saw very little snow…. not enough run off means huge forest fires and all the cattle are being shipped to greener pastures. A few weeks ago I was working in Glacier National Park, the part of the state that receives the most rain. While I was there, a fire ate up more than 100 acres in a matter of hours.
Back to my project– Xeriscaping is dependent on WATER! Between digging up 2000 lbs. of dirt, speaking at garden club meetings, distributing informative brochures, and making sure my plants don’t die, the project has kept me very busy. Building three gardens does not seem like a lot. The real problem is finding a good location in the middle of town and speaking to the right people. Lucky for me I have chosen the Head of the Montana Tree Board as my mentor. Over the next two months I am looking at a garden in front of the local bakery, creating a public awareness system, and hoping desperately for rain.

 

-Anne Trapp ’16

My Workman Grant Project #1- Dress warm and mind the steps!

Last week, I arrived in Beiyu, a rural village in Shanxi Province, China. Wait a second, let’s rewind to the summer of 2012. I was visiting a prehistoric site in Shanxi to develop my cultural competency, as Ms. Young would put it. As we drove towards our destination, I spotted a little brick house, buried in the trees and surrounded by a winding river. The next three summers, I spent months in that little brick house, Beiyu Elementary School for my Workman Grant Project.
My big plans… Teach and Learn! I will continue to teach at Beiyu Elementary School and then I will visit the Kwok’s Foundation in ChunHua and learn how it addresses poverty locally.
It felt great when the kids ran out to greet me on the first day. Many kids still remembered my name from last year.
Rain, rain, and more rain… Shanxi is known for its hot dry summers. However, last week was rainy and I was completely caught off guard with my four pairs of shorts and summer tops. I am always a light packer and besides, I did not want to seem like a spoiled city girl. So there I was, shivering in the cold wind on my way to school. What’s worse– I fell down the stairs covered with green moss. Luckily, Jia, the girl I lived with, was there to help me up. When I returned from school, Mrs. Jia kindly gave me some of her warm clothes to wear. This rainy week will certainly help the dehydrated walnut trees, which are the most important sources of income for the villagers. I feel better now.
What’s new? Besides the cute backpacks and other cool school supplies, I bought a new laptop- the first one in the village. Shout out to the Workman Family and Deerfield Academy for giving me the opportunity and funding to help Beiyu be better! I was able to make slideshows for Chinese lessons, play videos of the great migration in Africa and show off my programs from AP com sci class with Mr. Bakker! I also taught the two teachers how to use the laptop so when I leave, they will be able to utilize the laptop and develop multi-media programs for teaching.
Why is Beiyu so similar to Deerfield? How can one of the most expensive boarding schools be any similar to an elementary school in a village below the poverty line? First, they are both in the middle of nowhere. Second, both Deerfield students and Beiyu students are smart, hard working and thriving to become better versions of themselves. Third, Beiyu has Connect 4, too! I introduced the idea of “Connect 4” to Beiyu two years ago and made it a class. It has been voted the favorite class for two years in a row. In Connect 4, we focus on the big pictures and learn from each other. This week, in Connect 4, we focused on the idea of giving back. I talked about the community service projects I have been involved with and why I chose to do them. The kids each talked about their plans of giving back to their family and Beiyu community. In the end, we made Father’s Day cards.
Come back next week to learn more about my Beiyu project! If you have any questions or want to get involved, please email me at ywang@deerfield.edu or come find me on Mac 1 when school starts!

— Hatty Wang ’16