Each spring, the Harward Center for Community Partnerships preps and deploys a working group of students who spend the five weeks of Short Term tackling specific projects with local partners.
Whether helping a local land trust improve its signage or surveying pediatricians about how they discuss home gun safety with parents, “these students are mobilizing some pretty sophisticated skills and capacities for their off-campus projects and partners,” says Harward Center director Darby Ray.
Meet a few members of this year’s Short Term Action/Research Team and hear about the challenges and rewards of their projects:
Genesis Paulino ’21
Hometown: Lawrence, Mass.
Partner: St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
Project: Developing resources for educational garden activity bins. Each bin will focus on a specific garden unit, such as seeds and pollination, and include lesson plans, related books, and worksheets.
Genesis says: “During this project, I learned about urban gardening and how to make classroom activities accessible.
“Researching activities for kids to learn about gardening — and actually gardening myself — was something that I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing a few years ago. I had some experience coming into this project, but certainly not to the extent the project involved.
“It’s important to move out of our comfort zones. Life is always a learning experience, and we should take the time to challenge ourselves — taking opportunities to learn even more about ourselves and the world around us.”
Clio Barr ’19
Hometown: Hallowell, Maine
Partner: The Center for Wisdom’s Women
Project: Supporting sales, marketing, and business development efforts of Herban Works, a social enterprise run by women at the Center for Wisdom’s Women who make and sell healing products.
Clio says: “Effective marketing tells a story. Through working with women at the center, I had the privilege of getting to know them and learning about their stories and the incredible story of Herban Works. I hope this project is a small step toward continuing to share those stories with the rest of the community and the world.”
Zachary Anderson ’19
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Partner: Lewiston Public Schools’ English Language Learning Office
Project: Researching best practices for creating an accessible website for Lewiston’s ELL program and working with the program director to determine appropriate materials for the website.
Zach says: “My experience affirmed the challenges that exist in trying to compile a comprehensive website to serve the needs of the English language learners community.
“While finding translated materials or having them translated is a slow and cumbersome process, it is extremely valuable because it provides equitable information to all parents about the ELL program here in Lewiston.
“In doing this work, I was inspired by the commitment of my partners. As Lewiston continues to grow and change, it is comforting to know that my partners in the ELL Office will continue to work on providing a quality education to all students and families.”
Katherine Ennis ’19
Hometown: Morristown, N.J.
Partner: Androscoggin Land Trust
Project: Working with the land trust to develop new trail signage and lead an after-school nature walk at Sherwood Heights Elementary School.
Katie says: “My project required considerable communication skills to ensure that everyone was on the same page. The work included renaming some of the land trust’s walking trails, and I learned that people can have a strong emotional attachment to place names; some did not want to see anything change.
“This was a difficult issue to navigate, since we want to respect the community members and the frequent trail users while keeping in mind the needs of future trail users and new members of the community.”
Maya Seshan ’20
Hometown: Wilton, Conn.
Partner: Maine Gun Safety Coalition
Project: Conducting a study of Maine pediatrics offices to assess how frequently pediatricians speak with parents about home firearm safety and to learn what pediatricians need to have effective conversations with parents. The goal is to create a brochure that pediatricians can provide to parents on the topic.
Maya says: “My experience made me see physicians as actors that can drive public policy. The physicians that I spoke with serve the needs of their community and provide healthcare that is, in fact, tailored specifically for the people they serve.
“Maine is, of course, is a state with a gun culture, and this fact presents an interesting case for why it is so critical that pediatricians continue to speak with their patients about gun safety in the home.
“I see this as a chance to change the way that society thinks about gun safety — not as a politically salient issue, but rather as a public health issue.”
Teagan Ladner ’21
Hometown: Shrewsbury, Mass.
Partner: YWCA Central Maine
Project: Developing a video to promote the racial justice work the YWCA does through its Stand Against Racism event.
Teagan says: “During my STA/RT project, I learned the importance of being involved in community-engaged work beyond the role given or task at hand. As a videographer, it can be easy to distance yourself from the people you are filming and the event taking place, but I found it useful to allow myself to get involved in the event without using the lens as a barrier.
“In my case, that meant putting down the camera and participating in dialogue groups after the film screening during the Stand Against Racism weekend. By engaging in deep conversations about race and immigration, I became inspired by the vocal youth in the Lewiston-Auburn community leading these discussions. I was then able to look for clips in my footage that I felt most accurately represented the themes brought up by youth voices in the discussions I had.
“In general, I would encourage others to try to understand the people and mission of their community partner by participating in new ways that may not be in your written job description.”