Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can't Stay Away...

Today I made my first official visit back to SMC since graduation! I've been on campus a few times to help my sister move in or pick her up, but nothing official...but today was my big-girl debut at SMC! I had a MEETING there! A meeting where I was a not a student! It was great!

Every month Vermont Campus Compact has a network meeting where everyone who works in community service/service learning/activism/civic engagement etc... at a college that is part of Vermont Campus Compact gets together and does professional development, shares thoughts, promotes events, that sort of thing. When I found out that the October meeting was at SMC, I immediately RSVPed yes!

The meeting was in the Pomerleau Alumni Center, which is a new building on campus that I had never been into. It was fantastic to see Heidi St. Peter and Erin Collins, both of whom had definite impacts on my decision to become a VISTA and to come to Middlebury. Erin was definitely one of the most influential people I met while at St. Mike's - she was one of the staff members who went on the Extended Service trip to the Dominican Republic with me and we really connected. It was so wonderful to catch up with her!

The meeting was interesting - we had a few guest speakers come and discuss the housing and homelessness situation in Vermont, provide information about a new program called Common Good Vermont which is intending to tap into the synergies going on within the Vermont non-profit community and lead exercises in regards to learning outcomes for the students that we work with. It was great to see some of the Burlington-area VISTAs (one of whom is a member of my Relay team for the marathon...we discussed training a bit!) and be back at the place that I called home for the past four years.

I'm going Trick-Or-Treating for canned goods with the Volunteer Services Organization on Halloween, which should be fun. I'm battling a cold right now so I didn't run today, hopefully I will feel better by Saturday so that I can get two runs in over the weekend...

On a side note, I've started to catch up on Glee's on at the same time as Modern Family, which is a new show that I absolutely adore, so I haven't been able to catch it in "real time." I'm really enjoying the episodes online though! Check it out if you have a few minutes!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

...and a mouse named Mickey!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was headed off for a weekend of service, backpacking and camping at Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert, VT ( this past weekend. Middlebury has a Fall Break (just like SMC!) for Columbus day, so I traveled with 10 students to Merck on Saturday and returned yesterday (Monday).

We stacked wood at five different cabins and also did a lot of trail work in the forest. We had a very diverse and interesting group: six guys and four girls (plus me), two of whom were freshmen, one was a transfer student, three were international students and all of them had a lot to offer!

We stayed in a cabin in the forest and had an absolutely hilarious time. We laughed constantly, dodged a lot of mice (one particularly friendly one who wanted to visit us while we were sleeping was nicknamed "Mickey"), survived extremely cold nights and cooked some incredible food. I am really feeling like working with college students is my "calling" (if such a thing exists!). Enjoy the photos!
Trail Maintenance at Merck

The trip theme...feasts. Especially with peanut butter. In this photo I believe it is a peanut butter chocolate chip pancake...yum!

Cozy...all 11 of us slept in the loft to stay warm...

Front Row (l-r): me, Matt, Abigail, Sierra
Middle Row: Petra, Marilyn, Alex
Back Row: Lucas, Yuan, Yunfei, Ben

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Awesome Weekend!

I had a fantastic weekend - lots of great things going on to report!

On Saturday I had to work, but it really wasn't like work at all! I supervised/drove for a Volunteer Services Organization (VSO) worksite which was in Bristol, VT. We were working with Vermont Mothers Without Borders and Operation Brady Smile, which is an organization that makes care packages for families with children who are hospitalized for extended periods of time as well as fleece blankets for the kids. The volunteers from Middlebury (myself included!) combined to make 18 fleece tie blankets. I had so much fun tapping into my creative side, all for a good cause!

After I finished that, I headed home for the rest of the weekend. My mom's best friend (and roommate from her freshman year of college), Linda, was making the trip up to Vermont from her home in southern New Hampshire and we arrived about at my house about the same time on Saturday. If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember the trip that my mom and sister took to New York City with Linda and her daughter Brittany last December...we are hoping to make this an annual event, so we spent most of Saturday evening online looking for places to go! Right now we're thinking pretty big (i.e. warm weather!), but no matter what we decide, we'll have a blast!

On Sunday morning Linda and I went to a Bikram yoga class. If you're not familiar with Bikram yoga, basically is a very specific type of yoga that happens to be done in a 105 degree room. Yes, we did 90 minutes of yoga in a 105 degree room packed to the brim with people. Linda is training to be a yoga teacher and I have been doing yoga since high school, but this was unlike anything either of us had ever done. I have never sweat that much in my entire life, and I have never stretched that far either! I was almost paralyzed with soreness yesterday, but am feeling much better today. During the class all I wanted to do was get some fresh air, but we both decided that we will go back and try another class in a few weeks (there is a studio near Linda's house in New Hampshire). I'll let you know how it goes!

After that we met back up with my parents and took a picnic to a lake near our house and then took a hike. The weather wasn't perfect, but it didn't rain and was great weather for hiking! Vermont is so beautiful during the fall; I was glad to be able to get out and enjoy it!

After we got back from hiking, I made macaroni and cheese for dinner - as you know, I'm a vegetarian and so is Linda, so my mom asked me to make something for Sunday night. I made a recipe from EatingWell Magazine (where I did my internship last year) that was a big hit with the vegetarians and non vegetarians alike! I headed back to Middlebury after dinner to start off another week of work! What a great fall weekend!

P.S. I started week three of running today. Everything is still going well!
P.P.S. I am leading a hiking/camping/service trip this weekend for work so I'll be heading out on Saturday and not returning until Monday...Hopefully I'll have photos and stories to share when I get home!

Friday, October 2, 2009

United Way Days of Caring!

MiddKids helping at College Street Children's Center
Stephanie ('12) paints a fence at Bristol Family Center

A group of freshmen volunteer at the Eddy Farm School in Middlebury
One of the big events that I have been working on during my time here at Middlebury is the United Way Days of Caring, which is an annual event in Addison County to promote service and to get community members involved in helping their neighbors better the world around them. It is a two-day event and the event that college students were involved in took place on Saturday, October 26th.

The Volunteer Services Organization (VSO) student leader, Mikaela and I recruited 45 student volunteers for six different sites who combined for 135 hours of amazing community service! Hope you like the photos!