Community service and compelling internships are both hallmarks of the Centre Experience, with over 85 percent of Centre College students volunteering on a regular basis and with internships (and/or a research opportunity) guaranteed for all students under the Centre Commitment. This summer, a group combined the best of both worlds to aid local community members.
Stacy Crescencio ’18, Amari Cowan ’17 and Brendan Holly ’18 teamed up with Centre’s former Community Service Coordinator Mark Addison ’12 to plan a weeklong camp hosted by the College for the ESL (English as a second language) community.
The camp, with 25 children participating from both Boyle and Mercer counties, is part of the larger Centre After School Program, which is mainly orchestrated by Centre students. It provides the Boyle County ESL community with an opportunity to improve social and academic skills as well as serve a group of people that are often overlooked but very present in the community.
At the Centre summer ESL camp, which partnered with the local Centro Latino organization, students were divided into four smaller groups to help establish a sense of family. They created their own team flags and participated in activities revolving around science, math, reading and art. Classic science experiments such as the “egg drop” and the “volcano experiment” were hits, as were the days dedicated to visiting the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge, swimming at Boles Natatorium and having their own summer olympics day at Millennium Park.
The camp’s focus of educating and empowering ESL students in fun and engaging ways is very personal to Crescencio.
“Growing up with non-English speaking parents, I know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate school, but most importantly how difficult it is to remain engaged in learning activities throughout the summer,” she explained.
Understanding that many parents have to work and students must find a way to pass the time, Crescencio said her goal was to “connect with students and help them gain a sense of empowerment.”
Cowan is a member of the Bonner Scholars Program, a network of 60 students on campus (and thousands nationwide) dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving education through active community service and civic engagement. Most of her service has been geared towards children and education. Last fall she volunteered as an ASP tutor at Centre; later in the year, Professor of Spanish Mary Daniels reached out to her about plans for a summer program for ESL students.
“I saw it as a great opportunity to learn more about a diverse demographic in the Danville community, help some deserving kids and build relationships with other community leaders,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier by how it turned out.”
She is also an international relations major and Spanish minor, and the camps allowed her to discover some interesting social dynamics and structures that effect the Latino community in Boyle County.
Addison said the camp was an absolute success. “The interns and I witnessed moments of confidence, resiliency, adventurousness, resourcefulness, collaboration and what I call magic!
“For Centre students who participate in service-oriented summer internships,” Addison continued, “there is an incredible opportunity to put theory to practice and to affect outcomes that could positively change society as we know it.”
“I made a few friendships outside of the Centre and Boyle County communities along the way that really gave me a lot of joy this summer,” she explained. “This opportunity will definitely be a fond memory for years to come when I look back on my time here at Centre,” she concluded.
Pictured above: Centre interns help ESL students as they work in their teams on the first day of camp. All photo credits: Mark Addison ’12.
by Elise L. Murrell
August 17, 2015