The latest PBL community practice meeting was moved to Wednesday 4/6 to focus on a CCE conversation with two Middlebury professors, Shawna Shapiro and Dima Ayoub, on how they incorporated their academic endowment outreach funding to collaborate with community organizations through their courses. Shawna Shapiro, associate professor of writing, rhetoric, and linguistics, shared about her first year seminar on language and social justice. Her students partnered with the Burlington school district’s language acquisition program, which offers language programs for students and community members in Arabic, Nepali, Russian, and Bosnian. Through class visits and interviews, students created informational brochures about the program and the benefits of bilingualism. Professor Shapiro described that community outreach in a first year seminar was important to finding real world applications for social justice and language. Collaborating with a community organization also allowed students to practice writing for a public audience and make personal connections with the community members. From the experience, Professor Shapiro took away lessons to start small and be realistic, to not overpromise, and strive to have follow up and sustain the connection.
Dima Ayoub, CV Starr Fellow in international studies and assistant professor of Arabic also spoke about her class, Blackness in the Arab Imaginary, which partnered with the Somali and Bantu community association in Burlington, which provides cultural and life skill training to promote self sufficiency among refugees and low income families. Collaborating with the Somali Bantu Association in Burlington a inclusion of a non-American centric perception of race. Students met with families over meals in Middlebury and zoom meetings and helped the association with grant writing and donating old soccer balls for community soccer games. In the future, Professor Ayoub will host members from the community association for a dinner to celebrate Ramadan and continue collaborating.
The next PBL community of practice meeting will be on Thursday, April 14th in the Mitchell Green Room.