By Christian Lampart ‘16
In his second year as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America, or VISTA, Ryan Reeves ’08 is coordinator of the Harvest Kitchen youth and job training program for Farm Fresh Rhode Island. Working in collaboration with chefs, volunteers and returning graduates, Reeves trains youth who are under the care of the Rhode Island Department of Youth and Families in culinary, sales and life skills.
“My day-to-day is never the same, and that is why I love it,” remarks Ryan, who will become a full-time employee of Farm Fresh Rhode Island in August. “I spend time talking with farmers, ordering produce, buying kitchen equipment, writing recipes, coordinating our online and retail sales, managing farmers’ markets, keeping inventory, cooking and teaching. I interact directly with trainees in the hectic atmosphere that is created when you put 10 16-to-18-year-olds in a kitchen with 200 pounds of apples, boiling vats, a beat up clock radio and a bunch of knives.”
Employees and youth in the program produce a line of jarred goods, using produce sourced through a growing network of local farms in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. “My favorite part of the job is seeing the change as the trainees start to believe, contrary to almost everything anybody has ever told them, that they are needed, valuable and full of promise.”
By Christian Lampart ‘16
Kathryn Trahan ’12 is also an AmeriCorp VISTA, serving with the Franklin Grand Isle Bookmobile, a non-profit mobile library serving rural communities in northern Vermont. The Bookmobile serves all ages, with special emphasis on helping youth connect with literacy.
“The Bookmobile fights poverty by making books fun and accessible,” states Katie. “In this part of rural Vermont it is not always easy for childcare providers to go to a library and check out books for their kids. “ In addition to making books more accessible to rural youth, the Bookmobile holds events and fundraisers.
“The Bookmobile has story time and does a series of events. For example, I play Pathfinders with sixth graders after school. I am lucky enough to be a part of planning those events; whether they are free or fundraisers, it is always a blast.” Katie says her experience in theater at Marlboro has helped her with group communication and mediation.
“My biggest challenge has been learning how to engage the youth in the afterschool programs so that we have a safe time while having fun. There are so many components that need to come together to make the program successful, and when one element falls apart the whole team needs to come together and figure out a solution.”
I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at the In-Sight Photography Project in Brattleboro, Vermont. In-Sight is a youth-focused arts education organization that teaches analog and digital photography to kids, from age 11 through 18. Because classes are offered on a sliding-scale basis, In-Sight is able to reach youth that might otherwise not be able to access after-school programming, especially arts education programs.
I first learned about In-Sight from photography professor John Willis, who co-founded the organization 20 years ago and with whom I was taking a photography course at Marlboro. I volunteered to co-teach a couple stop-motion animation classes at In-Sight, then took a Work Study position there. After graduating, it was an easy decision to accept the VISTA position there, as it would entail service that I was excited about. It also enabled me to develop my relationship with the organization further, helped me with professional experience and funding for future education, and provided increasingly hard-to-come-by darkroom facilities.
Day-to-day, my activities at In-Sight vary quite a bit, as I hope is the case for any work I do in the future. On any given day I might be: meeting with a new volunteer to show them the space and develop curriculum for a class; learning how to merge an Excel document with a Word document in order to print hundreds of mailing labels; testing old film cameras to make sure they are ready for students to use; preparing photographs for installation at our annual auction fundraiser; or planning and implementing an event during Gallery Walk to recruit students for classes.
My favorite thing about my service at In-Sight would certainly be the opportunity I have to work with students directly and see the impact that the program has on them. While the AmeriCorps VISTA program is focused on indirect service, there are times, especially due to In-Sight’s small size, that I am either working in the same space as students or facilitating classes with a volunteer. Interacting with the students is always a nice break from work that often requires a lot of time spent with a computer. Sometimes, I get to hear kids say really funny things.
My Plan of Concentration was in literature, and, while I have few opportunities to bring up James Joyce or Dante at In-Sight, I am able to use my writing skills every day. Often, when proofreading a grant proposal, report or other document, I remember lessons in grammar that Laura Stevenson taught me in the Elements of Style class that I took five years ago—really! Photography was 40 percent of my Plan work, and my experience from that enables me to work with volunteers who are planning a class and to offer specific solutions. I am currently looking to continue my education in photography—I’ve applied to a few MFA programs and am now weighing my options.
By Christian Lampart ’16
“My real passion is working in communities where there is more immediate need,” explains Eva Baisan ’12. To gain experience working internationally, Eva is teaching English at five public schools in Japan through Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET), a Japanese government program. “During high school I studied abroad in Japan, and years later, I met several people connected to Marlboro who had taught through the JET Program as well, who later encouraged me to apply for the job.”
Each day Eva is at a different school teaching students in either seventh, eighth or ninth grade. “The best thing about my work, hands-down, is the rowdy kids. Some classes are absolutely wild, but we have such a great time. And even on days when my classes haven’t gone well, I’ve always had a great moment with a kid that’s made my day.”
When not teaching, Eva spends a lot of time planning lessons, painting at a nearby temple, chatting up the ladies at the octopus dough ball stand, taking yoga and hula classes, festival hopping, teaching adults English, hiking on the nearby ancient pilgrimage trails or searching for fake mustaches at the 100¥ store. After Japan, she hopes to spend time teaching English in migrant communities in the U.S. and Mexico.
By Christian Lampart ’16
In January, Kelly Baur ’08 will be studying economics and preparing a documentary film at the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile, with support from a Rotary International’s Ambassadorial Scholarship. Kelly’s documentary will focus on the environmental and social costs of the Chilean paper pulp industry.
“I studied economics and film at Marlboro, and I’m decidedly sticking with that combination in Chile,” said Kelly who produced a film about German reunification called “What Revolution?” “Ideally my past studies at Marlboro will help inform the content for my documentary in Chile.”
Since graduating, Kelly spent three years teaching German, economics and math at a non-traditional high school in Portland, Oregon. She also taught German at the pre-school and kindergarten levels and taught English in Chile for a summer.
Three years ago Kelly moved out to her family farm in Washington, where she now manages her pear orchard and garden (pictured above) and prepares for her Chile adventure—in other words, she says, she’s “funemployed.” She has made good use of her time, visiting and bringing resources to women in jail, organizing with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, volunteering with high school exchange students and teaching English at the day-labor hire site in Portland. After Chile, Kelly is considering pursuing work as a documentary filmmaker or teaching Spanish in the U.S.
By Christian Lampart ’16
“I’ve wanted to serve in the Peace Corps since I was in the eighth grade,” says Chris Boyle ’10, who is teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Berd, Armenia. “I like traveling, languages and culture, and as I learned more about those three things at Marlboro, I thought why not live somewhere else for two years? I don’t regret it, and I am happy to follow something I’ve always thought about doing.”
After working at the schools for a few hours in the daytime and planning lessons in the evenings, Chris integrates into the local community and practices his Armenian with his neighbors over coffee.
“Adjusting to a new country can be stressful. You may not have all the comforts you are used to having in the States. You are always surrounded by people speaking in a different language, and there are so many cultural differences. These factors, among others, could leave you feeling lonely and sad sometimes. However, when you know you have kids looking forward to seeing you, it makes everything more worth it”
Chris feels positive that his Peace Corps experience will open doors for him in the future. “I will have more opportunities to travel or work abroad, or maybe I will return to the States and teach. What matters now is to enjoy and learn from this experience.”
By Molly Booth ’13
When he graduated from Marlboro in 2008, with a Plan in photography, Jamie Paul settled into a small community in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. “I moved here shortly after finishing at Marlboro, with the intention of learning something about the elemental way of life that is still championed in these parts.”
By day, Jamie works as a photography technician and archivist for documentary photographer Rob Amberg. Jamie got to know Rob when he was hired to do construction work around his farm, and Rob’s pictures of the inhabitants of Madison County inspired him. “His images are incredibly intimate, as they provide a glimpse into a way of life that is beautiful and authentic,” Jamie said.
By night, Jamie pursues his love of music and performing. He plays shows in the surrounding area, and has found an audience for his original folk songs. “There are some late nights and a good deal of driving, but nothing beats playing music to people who enjoy it.”
Jamie feels Marlboro truly prepared him for his current life. “During my time at Marlboro, I learned how to communicate who I am and what I want to do. That is big in a place like this, where honesty and transparency are highly valued.”
By Molly Booth ’13
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school, and figured this would be a fun place to think about it,” said Emily Field ’11. She works as a shift supervisor at the St. Elizabeth Emergency Shelter in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Emily keeps the homeless shelter clean and in working order—but that’s just the job description.
“Really, what I do is spend time with friends that I value beyond belief.” Emily loves to interact with the people who stay at the busy shelter—“Everyone has a different story. For a Marlboro alum like me, someone who hates it when things get predictable, this is ideal.”
Emily’s Plan focused on writing, and she has discovered how those skills translate to her job. “Because I spend so much time thinking of other people’s stories and how to write them, I am able to listen to people for long periods of time without getting bored or trying to tell them my own story.” Her writing skills have also helped in her work as a legal assistant for another shelter.
For Emily’s next step, she’s considering a law degree, editing jobs or becoming a kayak tour guide. “Who says you have to stick with one line of work? Marlboro sure never taught me that.”
By Molly Booth ’13
“I float down beautiful western rivers with my dog and get to take pictures of pronghorn, foxes, moose, coyotes, eagles and occasionally even an odd otter or two.” Brady Godwin ’08 isn’t describing a vacation adventure; he’s describing fieldwork for his master’s program in zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming, studying river otters in Wyoming’s Green River basin. “When I crawl out of a tent in the morning and chase off a moose, or see a Wyoming sunset without another soul for miles I think, ‘This is my job.’”
While Brady’s Plan was in conservation biology, it doesn’t directly relate to his master’s work on otters. But he has found his Marlboro education was excellent preparation for the demand of graduate work. “The amount of reading, writing and organization it takes for Plan is very similar to grad school. Also, the one-on-one meetings with my Plan advisors really helped me learn how to get the most out of quick meetings with very busy graduate advisors.”
After completing his program, Brady hopes to find a job with an environmental consulting firm or organization that reaches out to the public. “My studies at Marlboro really made me realize the need for good communicators to explain ecology to the general public.”
I’ve started a nonprofit organization, Wolf Industries, which is devoted to putting musical instruments in the hands of low-income youth and teaching them how to play. The inspiration for the organization actually came from the combination of my Plan, which covered the industrial development of musical instrument manufacturing, and the Certificate in Non-Profit Management offered at Marlboro College Graduate School. I must also give fair credit to my incredibly skilled board of directors, including Marlboro senior Max Cliggott-Perlt, our treasurer and mathematician.
First of all, I am establishing a connection to potential constituents by volunteering my time as a mentor at a local outreach program called just-a-start. Second, I have been developing a professional network of music students at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. I have been corresponding with the presidents of both of these institutions to establish an internship program between my organization and their music education students. The idea there is to give those students some practical experience in their field in exchange for professional references and college credit. The third piece will be to contact musical instrument retailers and producers about supplying us with instruments.
In the mean time, to pay the bills, I have taken a job with Laura Fisher & Associates, a subsidiary of American Income Life Insurance Company, which is proving to be a spectacular opportunity with plenty of growth potential. Laura Fisher & Associates works directly with labor union members, and as a licensed agent I carry the stamp of approval and support from a variety of unions. The largest union we work with is the International Union of Police Associations.
With high revenue sales like this the most important thing is energy, so I am keeping all my efforts toward a positive outlook. My favorite part about the job, as trite as it may be, is the money. There is of course a fair amount of speculative risk since I am not paid hourly or salary, but rather as an independent contractor. However, as a Marlboro alumnus I have little difficulty working independently. Commissions and bonuses add up quickly, so long as I’m maintaining a healthy level of tenacity.
My juggling act between LF&A and Wolf Industries has little to do with being sensible. But as a student of the esteemed Jim Tober, I learned reliable modes of time management and dedication. Having written a Plan of Concentration, I realize that I am the only thing that can stand in my way. For instance, I have taken on a hobby of filing taxes for a few friends. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the IRS website had all the information anyone would need. Of the many things you think you learn at Marlboro, the one that should never be neglected is learning how to learn.