Methma is a Volunteer Representative for Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Sciences (STEMS). As a VR, Methma helps plan weekly meetings for the tutors, which are intended to provide Brown tutors with tools to work more effectively, through tutoring skills, knowledge of current education policy, discussions on the role of a tutor in a classroom, or information about the Providence Public School system. She is currently tutoring in a physics class.
Listen and Learn
Jordana Rosenfeld ’17 is participating in the University Community Academic Advising Program (UCAAP), an initiative designed for first year students who want community service and social change work to be a central part of their Brown experience. Here, she reflects on the Institute on Service and Community, UCAAP's pre-orientation program.
Walking behind Elton through Silver Lake, a neighborhood west of College Hill, was a singular experience. He marched confidently through the neighborhood, seeming to know everyone who passed by, sharing a fun fact about each building and bus line we encountered. We passed his mother’s street, the street on which he grew up, and dozens of his friends and acquaintances. His connection to his neighborhood and his investment in the people of Providence was obvious.
Elton was generous enough to donate his time and talents as a tour guide to UCAAP, University Community Academic Advising Program, a pre-orientation program run by the Swearer Center for incoming first-year students with an interest in community service and getting to know Providence.
Elton took us to a nonprofit operating out of Silver Lake that means a great deal to him – Open Doors, an organization that offers a wide variety of services to help people who have been incarcerated successfully transition back into society. Elton, a tirelessly optimistic and focused person, has himself previously been incarcerated, and now uses Open Doors as a platform through which he helps others turn their lives around.
At Open Doors, almost everyone we met told us about a huge legislative victory for formerly incarcerated people in Rhode Island. This summer, the Ban the Box initiative was successful in passing legislation requiring the removal of the box on job applications asking applicants to indicate if they have ever been incarcerated. This was a big deal, everyone explained, because now this question could only be asked later in the hiring process, allowing employers to hear the applicant’s story and their commitment to living a lawful life. Simply moving a question about someone’s criminal past to a later stage of an application process seems like a minor change, but it can have a huge impact on whether or not that person gets hired.
Leaving Open Doors, I was in awe. Throughout the program, UCAAP stressed the importance of listening. You cannot purport to be able to address a community’s challenges without listening to what community members say they need and want, we were told. My visit to Open Doors put the importance of listening in perspective. Few first-years on my tour were aware of the serious challenges facing people trying to reenter society before Elton and Open Doors gave us a chance to listen. Open Doors regularly listens to their clients so they can offer the most impactful services. After the success of Ban the Box, employers in Rhode Island will listen to people with a criminal history before dismissing a potentially qualified applicant sight unseen.
Bussing back to College Hill, my tour group reflected. You can never assume, we concluded – a community’s needs, the quality of a person’s character, your role in the struggle – you have to listen and learn.
June 20, 2016
June 13, 2016"I think about opening my mouth to call out goodbye, or to salute her in a traditional sign language farewell. Instead, I stand silently and smile."
Sally Hosokawa is a Community Fellow for Writers’ Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that facilitates creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. She studies literary translation in the Comparative Literature Department.
May 14, 2016“Club teachers understand us,” she says. “Even though they’re older, they’re not that much older, and so they’re like us and we can identify with them and talk to them about our problems.”
Addy is a volunteer with the Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM), a Swearer Center community partnership that facilitates after-school programing activities and mentorship between Brown volunteers and students at William D’Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood.
February 22, 2016
Pia is a junior double-concentrating in Education Studies and Comparative Literature. This is her third year with Writers' Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that offers creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, and her first year as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.
February 19, 2016I was intrigued by the program, but very intimidated by some of the topics. I’ve never been in the position to talk about gender or sexuality or rape culture.
Tiara came into Brown dead set on studying Neuroscience. After a summer or working with the local Planned Parenthood branch and taking health based classes she realized public health was her real calling. She has been volunteering for the SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) program since sophomore year.
February 16, 2016