During her first semester at Bates, Hannah McKenzie ’21 co-taught a class at Lewiston’s Immigrant Resource Center of Maine for English-language learners.

Her fellow teacher was Hamza Abdi, an academic administrative assistant at Bates. In the middle of each class, Abdi would leave and then reappear with two cups of traditional Somali tea. “Flavored with spices like cinnamon and cardamom and sweetened in condensed milk,” McKenzie remembers. “I loved that tea.” 

She assumed he was making it in the break room, only to learn months later that he was buying it in the market downstairs. She told Abdi that she didn’t want him spending his money on her. “After all, if I come to the center twice weekly for four years, that’s a lot of money.”

Hannah McKenzie ’21 photographed on Lewiston’s Lisbon Street. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Abdi laughed, pointing out a cultural pride point. In Djiboutian and other Eastern African cultures, he said, money is best for gestures of sharing and  appreciation.

“Someone in his culture doesn’t ‘lose’ money,” McKenzie learned. “People essentially take turns paying for their friends.”

Flash forward to the pandemic summer of 2020. Supported by the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, McKenzie is now a Bonner Leader who splits her time between two remote summer internships, with IRCM and another agency that supports new Mainers, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project.

Recalling tea time with Abdi three years ago, McKenzie has still found ways to support and connect with the local immigrant community in person, including making regular stops at Lisbon Street’s Heritage Restaurant for a cup of tea — a small purchase that reminds her of that early and big cultural lesson she learned as a first-year.

Since she will live off-campus and cook for herself in the fall, “I look forward to getting whatever groceries I can here,” she says. And she’ll keep getting tea at the Heritage Restaurant.

“I really appreciate the culture of collectivity that surrounds it. These kinds of cultural lessons are what have made my experience of Lewiston and my studies of anthropology at Bates so eye-opening and so meaningful.”  

Here’s what other Bates students with Bates-funded summer internships and academic fellowships said about how those in-person experiences have been guiding forces for what they want to do in life.


Anna Maheu ’21 of New York City

Anna Maheu ’21 was a Harward Center Summer Civic Fellow with St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Religious Studies

Project: St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, a food security organization for food insecure and otherwise vulnerable families, with integrated programs including urban community gardens, children’s gardening and cooking programs, cooking and nutrition education programs, youth leadership programs, food access initiatives, and a food pantry.

Funding: Harward Center Summer Civic Fellows funded through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships

Focus: Supporting the Nutrition Center’s various gardens throughout Lewiston-Auburn, maintaining educational gardens, assisting the food pantry in its efforts to adapt to COVID-19 through food deliveries, and the Good Food Bus.

Location: Lewiston, Maine

Student says: Living and working in the Lewiston community has taught me a lot about what it really means to invest in the place one calls home. I’ve had the opportunity to work so closely with individuals who have committed themselves to connecting community members to food, land, and each other. I’ve also been given a ground-level look at the myriad ways that food justice and access is pursued.

 The experience has reaffirmed how fundamental food and soil are to the lives we live, the power structures we must work against, and the relationships we cultivate.


Josiah Krul ’21 of Rockport, Maine

Josiah Krul ’21, posing at the Shotwell Drive-In during a screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” was a Purposeful Work intern for the Points North Institute in Rockport, Maine. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Psychology

Project: Points North Institute, an organization that hosts the annual Camden International Film Festival, the primary project he helped to produce.

Funding: Purposeful Work initiative

Focus: The usual venue for the Festival’s event, the Camden Opera House, closed temporarily due to the pandemic, so PNI decided to build a drive-in movie theater, creating a new  venue for the 2020 festival.

Location: Rockport, Maine

Student says: I’ve learned to be comfortable rolling with the punches.

After a rapid few weeks of planning and construction, the Shotwell Drive-In opened on July 16, offering the Mid-coast community a fun and safe social activity outside the house.

 The Purposeful Work-funded internship provides challenges that push the team and me to discover innovative and efficient solutions. The internship has encouraged me to learn new skills, whether it be coding new pages for the website, constructing panels for a drive-in movie screen, or organizing volunteer opportunities for events.

 Working with PNI has further shown me how much I enjoy working with community members to provide people from all walks in life with a reason to smile.


Georgia Moses ’21 of Arlington, Mass.

Georgia Moses ’21 was a Harward Center Summer Civic Fellow with Hillview Family Development in Lewiston. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Politics

Project: Working with Hillview Family Development, a public housing community in Lewiston that provides affordable housing and a variety of resources for the families that live there.

Funding: Harward Center Summer Civic Fellows funded through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships

Focus: Developing and leading socially-distanced art programming with children at Hillview and planning for Bates student remote engagement with the organization in the fall.

Location: Lewiston, Maine

Student says: Many of the kids I’m working with haven’t participated in activities in a structured way since March. I’m learning that they are incredibly eager to put their minds to work and spend time outside around others. I’m not sure they miss school per se, but they’re itching to do things. It’s been exciting to watch and has made the project successful.

 I’ve learned that working with kids during a pandemic is a challenge. I’ve had to set a lot of ground rules in order for the programming to run smoothly and safely, from distancing to mask wearing to hand sanitizing. That said, I’ve been really impressed by the level of understanding these kids have. They clearly know the importance of keeping themselves and their communities safe and healthy.


Gabriele Gucagaite ’21 of Kaunas, Lithuania

Gabriele Gucagaite ’21 worked on a research project with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Andrew Kennedy. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Chemistry

Project: Visualizing Engrams

Funding: Faculty Grant

Focus: Working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Andrew Kennedy to create slides and images that show, through fluorescent imaging of brain proteins, actual mouse memories, such as a specific taste or smell. The research also involves altering or enhancing the memories that a mouse has.

Location: Bates College

Student says: It is awe inspiring to be able to look at a neuronal network coding for a specific learning experience. It feels like looking at a map of someone’s mind, even if that someone is a mouse. I wonder what kind of map my memories of this research formed.


James Calhoon ’21 of Menlo Park, Calif.

(Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
James Calhoon ’21 had a Bates Environmental Internship with Friday Harbor Laboratories in San Juan Harbor, Wash. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Majors: Biology and Economics

Project: Species Interaction in a Changing Ocean

Funding: Bates Environmental Internship

Focus: Studying the feeding preferences of green and red sea urchins, and how those choices might be affected by an invasive brown seaweed, Sargassum muticum.

Location: Friday Harbor Laboratories is a marine biology field station of the College of the Environment, University of Washington, located on San Juan Island.

Student says: The labs buzz with scientific curiosity, and everyone is very invested and interested in other people’s research, making it a welcoming community. Above all I really appreciate the resources that [Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology] Katie [Dobkowski] and the labs have provided in allowing me the freedom and creativity to set up and conduct my own independent research. I have never before been the lead researcher on a project and it has been extremely valuable in thinking through a project from start to finish.


Hannah Golub ’21 of Bellaire, Texas

(Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Hannah Golub ’21 was a Harward Center Summer Civic Fellow with St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Psychology

Project: St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, a food security organization for food insecure and otherwise vulnerable families, the Nutrition Center’s integrated programs include urban community gardens, children’s gardening and cooking programs, cooking and nutrition education programs, youth leadership programs, food access initiatives, and a food pantry.

Funding: Harward Center Summer Civic Fellows funded through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships

Focus: With the arrival of the pandemic, Golub’s original summer assignment to run the children’s gardening program changed. She has helped to distribute food by packaging hundreds of bags filled with produce and perishables and staffing a mobile farmer’s market. She’s also  prepared at-home activities for summer school students. And spent a great deal of time outside, being essentially an urban farmer.

Location: Lewiston, Maine

Student says: This summer certainly looks a lot different from what I expected. I did not realize how many gardens I would get to work in and how that would enrich the experience.

 I feel like I have the best of both worlds because I still get to spend a lot of time in the gardens, but now I’m learning and taking part in the food security and distribution programs of St. Mary’s.


Hannah McKenzie ’21 of Stevenson, Md.

(Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Hannah McKenzie ’21 was a Harward Center Summer Civic Fellow with The Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, both in Lewiston. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Anthropology

Project: The Immigrant Resource Center of Maine and Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Funding:  Harward Summer Civic Fellows funded through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships

Focus: For IRCM, working primarily with Executive Director Fatuma Hussein, providing grant-writing assistance for culturally-specific, gender-based violence prevention and survivor support programs. Also, continuing to teach IRCM English Class, which she has taught since her first semester at Bates. For ILAP, working under the guidance of staff attorney Alice Kopij, primarily researching  conditions in immigrants’ countries of origin to be used for developing legal cases. She’s also worked on a self guide for people making pro se citizenship applications.

Location: Lewiston, Maine

Student says: We’re in a time of multiple crises, and it’s felt incredibly valuable to be a part of the Lewiston community’s response to them. I’ve seen how refugee and immigrant staff from IRCM are working so tirelessly to support their community—responding to needs, from advocating for local government health support to coordinating rides for their neighbors to go to the doctor for COVID-19 tests when they can’t drive themselves.

It’s been inspiring to see, too, how these local organizations partner together; often, I’m in a Zoom meeting and notice that my supervisors from both organizations are present on the call. I’ve seen how Lewiston communities collaborate and help each other, and that’s given me hope.

I’ve also spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what my role is—and what it can’t be—in work supporting the refugee community. This is not my community as it is for the staff with whom I work at IRCM. I’m learning to be an advocate responsive to community needs and direction. It’s a lesson I’ll take with me wherever I go in life


Katrina Johnson ’21 of Stratham, N.H.

(Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Katrina Johnson ’21 had a Bates Environmental Internship with Friday Harbor Laboratories in San Juan Harbor, Wash. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Major: Biology

Project: Species Interaction in a Changing Ocean

Funding: Hoffman Research Support Grant

Focus: Investigating the little-known feeding preferences of the graceful kelp crab

Location: Friday Harbor Laboratories is a marine biology field station of the College of the Environment, University of Washington, located on San Juan Island.

Student says: Being from the East Coast, I had never studied West Coast ocean ecosystems in person. To snorkel and see seals playing in kelp forests underwater is extraordinary. Living and working at a world-renowned lab, I have been able to meet and talk with many scientists, but I have also formed lasting relationships with the other student researchers who have made these crazy COVID times a whole lot easier.

There is a special sense of passion towards all things ocean at Friday Harbor Labs. To work alongside scientists with such passion, like my advisor Katie Dobkowski, has invigorated my own sense of excitement about my thesis research and the research I will conduct as a scientist in the future.

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