Student Perspectives

Senior Reflection: Building Relationships

George Steckel ’19 (Scarsdale, NY)

George is interested in all things food and sports. He loves spending time with his family and friends and spending time outside.  As a Community Outreach Fellow, George led the Book Buddies programs, where Bates students read one-on-one with elementary school children twice a week.

Students at Bates are always involved in something. Some people play a sport, or serve as an ARC tutor, or sing in acapella. For me, I do Bates Book Buddies.

It all began when I was picking my First Year Seminar before coming to Bates. I was sitting with my brother Henry, who was in the Bates class of 2016, and he told me I had to take a class with professor Bronwyn Sale in the Education Department. I said, “Perfect” and was happy to have completed my first college task. I was unaware that taking this class would lead me into lasting relationships within the Lewiston community.

For my community-engaged learning placement in the class, I was assigned to read with four students on Mondays and Wednesdays. The rest is history. I fell in love with the work. Not only were the kids I was working with bright and eager to learn, but they were also kind and funny. The fourteen-year age gap meant nothing. It turns out that children’s books can really bring any two people together.

As I reflect on my four years at Bates and my work as a Harward Center Community Outreach Fellow, there is one word that keeps popping into my head: “relationships.” Working with Marty, Ellen, and the rest of the Harward Center staff has been amazing. I feel like I have had a second home over on Wood Street, as well as a second family. I will miss our monthly meetings and listening to everybody’s check-ins about how their programs are going.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Amanda Hammond and Ashley Shaw at Montello Elementary School and Jodi Smith at McMahon Elementary. Bates Book Buddies would not exist without the work put in by our community partners. The Montello and McMahon communities have allowed Bates students to enter their doors and take students out of their classrooms to read with them. The faculty members at these schools have believed in our work, which has been empowering for all of us.

Being able to give back to the community that has been my home for the past four years is a remarkable feeling. Being a Community Outreach Fellow is rewarding for multiple reasons, but one that has always resonated with me is that I have been able to make a difference in the Lewiston Public Schools as a volunteer while also, as an Outreach Fellow, providing opportunities for my fellow students to do the same. Helping someone else realize that their work is meaningful and purposeful is truly one of the greatest feelings one can have.

Over the past four years I have taken dozens of classes. I have learned from numerous professors. I have lived in different dorms. I have made new friends and discovered new things about myself. Yet, I have always had the constant of Book Buddies. Book Buddies has been one of the most rewarding parts of my four years at Bates, and for that I am incredibly thankful. No matter what else is happening in my life or the wider world, every day that my volunteers and I walk into Montello or McMahon Elementary, the students’ faces light up. When they hear that knock on the door, they know it is their Bates buddy, and they know that for the next thirty minutes, they will experience an inner calmness and the beauty that reading a book provides.

Bates Students Step Up

Dylan Metsch-Ampel ’19 (Montclair, NJ)

Dylan plans on completing a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Rhetoric. As a member of the Bonner Leadership Program he spends time working as a basketball coach at the Lewiston/Auburn Boys and Girls Club. He also works with Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, where he helps to provide family law counseling for low-income residents.

Ahmed Sheikh ’17 (Lewiston, ME), Melody Altschuler ’17 (Lyme, CT), and Jason DeFelice ’17 (Salem, NH).

Bates College students are known for their commitment to social change through community engagement. Some make such important contributions to off-campus organizations that they are invited to serve on the boards of these agencies. Among current students serving on local boards are Cristopher Hernandez Sifontes, Jason DeFelice, Ahmed Sheikh, and Melody Altschuler. Collectively, they work with six different organizations including College Guild, Outright Lewiston-Auburn, Maine Community Integration, and the Autism Society of Maine. Click here to read more.

Addressing Intergenerational Poverty through the Volunteer Lawyers Project

Dylan Metsch-Ampel ’19 (Montclair, NJ)

Dylan plans on completing a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Rhetoric. As a member of the Bonner Leadership Program he spends time working as a basketball coach at the Lewiston/Auburn Boys and Girls Club. He also works with Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, where he helps to provide family law counseling for low-income residents.

Abby Westberry ’19 (Readfield, ME) and Daniel Fichmann ’19 (New York, NY) volunteer alongside Dylan.

A common theme in our Bonner Leadership discussions is what kinds of community engagement work are “en vogue” compared to the kinds of work that need more attention than they’re getting. Intergenerational poverty is one of the realities in Maine that seems to attract relatively little problem-solving energy. Even well-intended Bates students tend to avoid this work. The reasons for this avoidance include legitimate issues like the relatively small number of programs targeting this population. They also include issues of political or ideological differences that make many liberal arts students hesitant to work with generationally poor citizens. This is not to say that all Bates students are liberal or that the entirety of Maine’s working class is staunchly conservative. However, such differences do exist and can become obstacles to people getting the help they need and deserve. Click here to read more.

Maine Voices: Then and now, America’s greatness lies in recognizing the voices of all

Professor Joseph Hall and Students in History 241: America in a Revolutionary Age, 1763-1789


Ben Aicher ’18 (Falmouth, Me), Max Milavetz ’20 (Salt Lake City, UT), Francesca Steiner ’19 (Salt Lake City, UT), Professor Hall, and Andrew Segal (Glencoe, Il) (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

LEWISTON — On the day after a deeply divisive election, it is important to remember that the real work begins now. Whoever our newly elected officials are, we and they must now debate the best way forward.

At the center of the campaign debate this year has been the idea of American “greatness.” When has America been great? Are we great now? In studying the American Revolution this fall at Bates College, we have been asking similar questions. In the process, we have found that some of our answers about 1776 have important lessons for 2016. Click here to read more.

More than Volunteering: Creating Community at the Lewiston Adult Learning Center

Sarah Freyd ’19 (Edmonds, WA)

Sarah plans to double major in Environmental Studies and Anthropology with a minor in French.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, my classmate Ayesha and I walked into the Lewiston Adult Learning Center with no idea what we were in for. We were excited, but scared for our first day. Around the classroom table sat 5 eager students, pen and paper in hand, looking at us, ready to learn. Just like that, I was transformed from a college student into a teacher. Click here to read more.

Embracing an Unexplored Doorway

Elizabeth Pumiglia ’19 (Saratoga Springs, NY)real-senior-pic

Elizabeth plans on being an Anthropology major and completing the pre-med requirements. She hopes to go to medical school or receive a masters in Public Health.

Fighting, disregarded, alone. Imagine being a single woman at the age of twenty, leaving your home, not sure whether or not your family is alive, not sure if you’re going to survive, and not sure where you will be in a year, a month, or even a week. Throughout my freshmen year at Bates, but especially through my experiences tutoring African immigrants at the Adult Learning Center, I have come to realize exactly what diversity means. Click here to read more.

Teaching and Learning with African Immigrants

1151014_3450058148281_1646048240_nCharlotte Cutshall ’18 (Falmouth, ME)

Charlotte Cutshall is currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She is a member of the Bates College track and field team and is majoring in Anthropology. 

The first day of class I was feeling unsure of myself, but I knew that teaching English to African immigrants at the Adult Learning Center would be a learning experience for both the students and myself. The first class was a challenge, as I did not know the students’ names, skill level, or even how to teach a class on any subject. I am a shy person by nature, and, through tutoring I found that shyness is counterproductive. I had to force myself to be confident, assertive, and clear with the students in order to get my point across. After realizing that my passiveness was a problem, my teaching became much more successful. Click here to read more.

Learning Through Teaching: Volunteering at the Adult Learning Center

Lisa Slivken ’18 (New York, NY)wcroo95z34gimp9b

Lisa Slivken is from New York City. She is majoring in Sociology and Anthropology. She is also a member of the Bates College volleyball team and an intern at The Center for Wisdom’s Women in Lewiston.

“Close the closet.” One student, Jihan, starts laughing as she reads the post-it note taped to the classroom door.  She realizes that despite their different pronunciations, the two words appear nearly identical. As the class period continues, the confusion only multiplies. Click here to read more.

Unsolved Mysteries: Alligators, Energy, and English Grammar Instruction

Forrest Naylor ’16 (Baltimore, MD)

Forrest Naylor is from Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Bates College with a degree in Physics. He plans to teach English in Nicaragua this fall.

I wanted time to introduce myself to the teacher I would be working with before class, but I didn’t arrive at the the Adult Learning Center as early as I had hoped. Fortunately, I was quickly directed towards my classroom, Room 7. As I walked down the hall, friendly chatter was coming from small groups who dissolved into their respective classrooms as the beginning of the class period drew near. People were wearing sneakers, sweatshirts, jeans, khakis, and blouses. It felt pretty much like any school I had ever been to, but some things were different, and I noticed. Click here to read more.

Exchanging Recipes, Exchanging Culture

Ashley Bryant ’16 (Medfield, MA)

ashley2Ashley Bryant is an Anthropology major and Education minor, she spent a majority of her Bates career working in local Lewiston classrooms and after school programs. Bryant plans to stay in Maine and work in the public school system this fall before beginning her Fulbright in Brazil next year.

“There’s 15 minutes of class left today – what would you like to do?” I ask the two Somali women sitting across the table from me. We just met today. A 24-year- old mother I’ll call Hibo is anxious to be hired at Walmart in order to provide for her family. The other, much older woman I’ll call Shamso smiles warmly at me, yet she cannot disguise the confusion evident in her eyes – she does not understand a word I just said. Both women have been learning English for less than a year and their levels of proficiency vary drastically. My co-teacher, Annabel, and I struggle to think of an activity that satisfies their diverse tutoring needs. Click here to read more.

Great Day to Be a Bobcat – Alexandra Morrow

Click here to watch a video of Bates alum Alexandra Morrow ’16 talk about her love for Bates and for Lewiston!

Easy A for community service? Think again…

Whitney Paine ’16 (Moultonborough, NH)

Whitney designed her own Interdisciplinary major called Inequalities in Education and is a Women and Gender Studies minor with a GEC in Knowledge, Action and the Public Good. Her first experience with community-engaged work was in her FYS. Since then, mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters and interning at Advocates for Children have been some of her most meaningful experiences. Next year she will be working as a residential counselor at The Bridge of Central Massachusetts.

Katrina Buchta ’16 (North Andover, MA)

As a Sociology major with a minor in Educational Studies, Katrina’s community engagement experiences – from quick volunteering to CEL courses to summer internships to thesis research – have been hands down the best part of her four years at Bates! She has loved immersing herself in the local community of Lewiston and developing close relationships with community partners and local youth. Next year she’ll be working as a College & Career Aspirations Counselor at Lewiston High School

In response to the article titled, “Easy A for community service” by Henry Steckel, published in last week’s issue of the Bates Student, we are writing to share our perspective on community engagement at Bates College. As two seniors heavily involved with community engaged learning and research, we strongly disagree with Steckel’s idea of half-credit “community service” courses in order to incentivize community engagement and to give students an “Easy A.” Click here to read more.

Community engagement at Bates

Dylan Metsch-Ampel ’19 (Montclair, NJ)

Dylan plans on completing a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Rhetoric. As a member of the Bonner Leadership Program he spends time working as a basketball coach at the Lewiston/Auburn Boys and Girls Club. He also works with Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers Project, where he helps to provide family law counseling for low-income residents.

Since September I have regularly gone into the Lewiston District Court to work with Maine’s Volunteer Lawyers Project. A couple of other Bates students and I help to provide family law advice for low-income residents by dealing with in-take and determining eligibility. Honestly, it is a great feeling to make a difference in a community that has become your adopted home. Click here to read more.

Students seize summertime engagement opportunities

Courtney Porfido ’18 (Ramsey, NJ)

Since her freshman year Courtney has volunteered in the Lewiston Elementary schools with the Bates Civic Action Team (BCAT). She also worked as an intern with Hillview Housing this past summer. This coming summer Courtney will be working as an intern at, an educational app start up focusing on grammar. Over the coming years Courtney will complete a double major in Rhetoric and Psychology with a GEC in Visible Ideas in 2-D and 3-D Art.

Bates has a unique relationship with our hometown of Lewiston, Maine. Even though there is a great deal of integration between the two, it often feels like we are in a Bates bubble. With school, sports, work and all those other responsibilities, it’s easy to spend an entire semester without going into the community for something besides Walmart or Forage. Over their four years in Lewiston, however, most Batesies will experience some sort of community engagement. The Harward Center facilitates opportunities for students to participate in the greater Lewiston/Auburn community, in addition to the class-based opportunities Bates provides. Click here to read more.