Bates junior one of seven to receive statewide award for service

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Jessica Adelman, a Bates junior from Waban, Mass., is one of seven undergraduate students across the state to receive the Maine Campus Compact’s 2008 Heart and Soul Award.

The award, now in its seventh year, honors students who have demonstrated a commitment to using campus-based resources to address community needs. This year’s recipients were honored in an April 2 ceremony at the Maine State House, in Augusta.

Adelman is an interdisciplinary major, combining studies in education, psychology and sociology. Since her first year at Bates, she has been involved with afterschool programming at Hillview Apartments, a public housing complex operated by the Lewiston Housing Authority.

While it’s open to K-12 students, the program serves primarily elementary and middle-school children. Nearly all participants are either Somali refugees or the children thereof.

Adelman coordinates the program, in addition to working directly with children as a tutor. As one of six Student Volunteer Fellows at Bates, charged with engaging the college’s students in volunteer service throughout the Lewiston-Auburn area, her Hillview responsibilities include recruiting and training Bates volunteers.

Her contributions to the afterschool program include the development of training materials for Hillview volunteers that speak to the clientele’s unique needs.

Adelman sees a clear benefit for the Hillview children. “Many of their parents don’t speak any English,” she says, “so we’re able to provide homework help they may not get at home. Also, the afterschool center is right in the middle of Hillview, so kids who can’t stay after school because they have no transportation home can still benefit from tutoring and structured activities.”

She adds, “I think we’re also positive role models. The children build relationships with us and hopefully begin to see college as an attainable goal for themselves.”

For the Bates students, participation in the Hillview program can sometimes play a role in their academic work, adding a service-learning dimension to their involvement. Adelman’s Hillview activities this semester have informed an independent study focusing on culturally responsive teaching in low-income classrooms. “I can compare the research and reading that I’m doing with my experiences,” she explains.

“These kids have come from such different experiential backgrounds,” she says. “For us as students, it has changed the way we look at the world. I’ve learned a lot about Somali culture, the Muslim religion, and what a struggle it can be to live in a culture so unlike your own.”

In addition to Adelman, this year’s Heart and Soul Award recipients are Asherah Cinnamon of the Maine College of Art; Danielle Demers, University of New England; Man Ho, University of New England; sharing an award, Khadra Jama and Becki Quimby of the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston/Auburn College; and Ian Jaffe, Bowdoin College.

The award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions in community service, service-learning and activism. Recipients have attained significant results through their involvement and have demonstrated leadership and innovation on campus and in the community.

Headquartered at Bates, Maine Campus Compact is a coalition of college and university presidents statewide, established to encourage and enhance campus engagement in the community. (Visit the MCC Web site.)

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