On Sept. 26, the Harward Center presented their second presentation of a series on community-engaged summer work done by Bates students. It featured the work of six students who shared their experiences.
Emma Block ’22 presented on her internship at the Lewiston District Court. Some of her assignments included looking at data regarding Family Treatment Drug Court programs and working for the Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Block discussed the importance of programs like Volunteer Lawyers Project, a program that provides free legal aid to those in need.
“The day I did it was on Fridays, which was for protection from abuse or protection from harassment cases,” she explained. “Volunteer Lawyers project represents the defendants and Cumberland Legal Aid–which is another free legal aid service–represents the plaintiffs.”
Block noted how she was able to gain insight on the Lewiston community by working at the court.
“I think it’s really good to spend a summer here, because we are living here for four years,” she said. “It’s really valuable to have a better sense of what the people in this town are like and what kind of problems they have.” Block does not know if she will continue on to law school, but she believes that her experience affirmed her interest in the legal field.
Next, Nina Moskowitz ’20, discussed her summer at the Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston. The center provides aid to the Lewiston/Auburn area by providing meals, shelter, medical services, and more. The shelter offers one of the most extensive refugee and immigration integration programs in Androscoggin County.
“Some of the services that I assisted particularly with were job applications, resumes, writing cover letters, and then also assisting with the immigration process,” she said. “If someone wanted to check up on the status of their asylum I would call immigration services with them as well as help them apply for work permits.”
Moskowitz, a politics major, described how working at the center informed her of the difficulties associated with the immigration process.
“I see the [lack of accessiblity] of the system,” she noted. “I really feel motivated, at this time, to create systematic change within the immigration system and policy.”
Moskowitz mentioned how working for the center has been formative in that she has discovered her love for the non-profit industry.
Valerie Bravo ’21 then spoke about running the summer program at Hillview Family Development in Lewiston. Hillview, a public housing development, serves families living below the poverty line. During the academic year, it provides homework help and school supplies to students. During the summer, they coordinate educational programs. This year’s program focused on STEM.
“We decided to focus on STEM mainly because the field of STEM is usually very exclusive to people of color,” she said. “Most of the students that we were working with this summer were students that came from families that were Somali refugees.”
Students built bridges, explored food science, and more. One of the goals of the program was to inspire students to be the best versions of themselves while learning.
“I would have wanted a mentor or somebody to do activities with me, just someone to tell me I could do these things that other people said I couldn’t,” Bravo said. “That was one of the biggest takeaways for me.” She described how the program forced her to be openminded to the unique perspectives of every student. Bravo noted that while she was not sure if teaching was in her future, she enjoyed her experience.
Last, Kirstin Koepnick ’21 and Hermione Zhou ’21 presented on their work at Auburn Conservation Clinic. Both worked with the Agricultural and Resource Protection District to design a survey on landowner preferences regarding protected agricultural zones. Zhou noted the controversy that often surrounds these types of surveys.
“It’s really important information for us to situate ourselves in the community and be aware of our positions and biases,” she said. “There is nothing objective about this research, and we acknowledge that, but we also have confidence in the scientific method.”
Koepnick was charged with examining the financial repercussions of any proposed changes. The major categories that she studied were in residential developments, zoning alternatives, and landscape conservations.
Both found the research exciting and informative, noting that these types of studies are ongoing.
The Harward Center will present the third and final installment of this series on Oct. 23. Bates students, staff and faculty, and local community members are invited to attend.