Category: Miscellaneous

An Alternative Call to Action| By Lacey Key

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At first this looks like a pensive photo of me planting blackberries with my eyebrow MIA (which in fact it is), but it is also a call to action.  Alternative Break has been the most life changing and growth inspiring opportunity I have had while in college. I’ve learned more than I have in my toughest and most interesting classes. I have learned so much on these trips through travel, community, early morning farmers markets, museum visits, service, and meeting people who have so much to gain from sustainable change.  Most importantly, I’ve learned what it is to put a passion for change into action.

There are things that are very unsettling about the state of this world. As people of privilege on so many levels, furthering our education and creating a foundation for the rest of our lives, I encourage and call upon you to spend one of your academic breaks this year on an Alternative Break.  It will make you frustrated but motivated, taken aback by the devastating and beautiful truths this world has to uncover. 

The college will tell you what classes to take and the necessary steps to earn a degree. What it won’t tell you is that in order to come out of these four years a person who is truly aware of the world, a citizen of this earth, you have to do something a little extra. You have to push your comfort zones, try new things, expand your circle of compassion, get your hands dirty, find a way to sustain not only your own life- but the life that exists all around you.

Alternative Break is my happiness. We all have the chance to do something like this as young people with energy, time, and heart. So, this Fall break, trade your old lenses of the world out for new ones. Laugh at yourself, break down, rebuild yourself again and again. Get smart, get engaged, get active.

Applications are available here, and due Monday September 26th.

 

 

MLK Alternative Break Reflection By: Michaela Herrmann

 

I’m not proud to say that for most of my four years at CofC, I was accustomed to think of Martin Luther King Day as a day free from classes (and only every other year, at that). I was virtually oblivious to the true virtue of this day as a national call to action in the form of a mindful day of service to honor the spirit of our drum major for justice. This has changed, undoubtedly for the better, thanks to the incredible group of people with whom I spent this 2016 MLK weekend as a part of the Alternative Break program. Through our experiences at New American Pathways, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and the Center for Human and Civil Rights, we learned about several different, yet interconnected, issues: refugees and the challenges they face when starting over upon moving to the US, the legacy of MLK and the many brave people that participated in the American Civil Rights movement, and many ongoing movements for freedom and justice that are constantly happening around the world.

Our trip coordinators placed a high value on discussing our feelings, epiphanies, and questions about what we learned, which was one of the most valuable aspects of the weekend. Our sometimes silly, sometimes profound, and often both, conversations were immensely helpful in ensuring that we thought critically about how we contribute to the lives of others without prioritizing our own egos or what we think a community needs, rather than listening to what it asks for. It was interesting to hear what stood out to each individual as we had our shared experiences, which emphasized how differently we all think and the importance of understanding an issue from multiple perspectives. I truly felt like I came away from the weekend with new friends that I had genuinely connected with over issues we were all passionate for and committed to teaching others about, and I look forward to what each of us will accomplish

Although I intended to pursue a career in social justice before this experience, I’ve come away with an understanding of the necessity to carefully reflect on one’s motives before appointing oneself to be everyone’s savior. I still want to support and pursue justice for others, but I recognize that the first thing to do is to educate myself and to recognize the importance of engaging with a community or movement in a way that best suits its needs, and not my own. Alternative Break, and every single person in our group, played a part in teaching me this lesson, and I couldn’t be more grateful or glad that I went out on a limb and was a part of this weekend.

Weekly Digest: January 25th, 2016

Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ January 27th, 2016

 

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at: volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

 

Recurring Service Opportunities

Keep Charleston Beautiful! Keep Charleston Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the City of Charleston, conducts environmental clean ups of debris around the Charleston area. Volunteers go to specific neighborhoods, streets, parks and marshes to help keep Charleston beautiful! Our next clean-up is January 30th from 10am to 1pm. To sign up or get more information, please email: volunteer@cofc.edu, with the subject line, “Keep Charleston Beautiful”!

Lowcountry Food Bank! The Lowcountry Food Bank, located in North Charleston, helps feed children, adults, seniors and families in need along coastal South Carolina. Come pack, sort, clean food while getting to know your fellow Cougars! Your next opportunity is February 19th, from 12:303:30pm! Limited to the first seven volunteers! Email volunteer@cofc.edu, with the subject line: Lowcountry Food Bank”, to register!

*Transportation provided

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

People Against Rape! Rape victims in Charleston are in desperate need of advocacy and help. In the hours after the trauma of rape, victims need someone to stand by them. That is what People Against Rape (PAR) has done since 1974. The services that we provide to victims in the Tricounty area are done so by volunteer effort. PAR is currently searching for caring compassionate citizens to fill this crucial role. You can make a difference by helping rape victims after their assault, by accompanying them to the ED for an evidentiary exam, as well as responding to crisis calls and providing referrals for adult victims of sexual assault. We need more volunteer advocates! PAR will provide the necessary training in a series of workshops to be held January 28th through the 31st (Thursday and Friday from 6:00pm to 8:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 5:30pm). If you, or someone you know, is able to devote 24 hours per month to serving Tri-County rape victims, we would love to talk with you about PAR’s activities in greater detail. A SLED check is required.

E-mail volunteer@peopleagainstrape.org to obtain more information about this important volunteer opportunity. Please feel free to disseminate this to anyone you know who may be interested in volunteering their time for this very worthy cause. Please apply by January 22nd.

LEAP! Lowcountry Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy is looking for volunteers to fill multiple capacities. Their mission is to enrich the quality of life and relationships of residents of the SC Lowcountry by bringing horses and experienced, highly trained therapists together to assist those who are experiencing behavioral, emotional or psychological challenges.

Horse lovers: muck stalls, clean the barn, fill and clean water troughs, feed, brush horses, bathe horses! We have horse lovers shifts every AM and PM.

Groundskeepers: facility maintenance and beautification; design landscaping; plant, weed, and water flower beds; repair fences; mow and weed eat. (Sat and Sun)

Advocates: market LEAP to businesses and individuals, speak at community meetings regarding the mission and services of LEAP, solicit private donations

Organizers: plan and implement fundraising events, participate in community awareness events.

Please call (281.546.1448) or email (caroline.wallace2011@gmail.com) with your information and Caroline W. Fugle, LEAP’s volunteer coordinator, will be in touch with you.

Meals on Wheels! The Charleston Area Senior Citizens and their Meals on Wheels (MOW) program are looking for volunteers to better the lives of seniors! They serve senior citizens who may be low-income, home-bound, and may have moderate to severe physical restrictions. Volunteer shifts can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. To volunteer contact,Heather Browning, (843) 722-4217 or casc.vista@gmail.com. For more information: charlestonareaseniors.com

Engaging Creative Minds! The mission of Engaging Creative Minds is to inspire the creative and innovative potential of all students to achieve academically and become imaginative, adaptable and productive adults. Help provide arts integration, whether it is creative design or collaboration and problem solving skills, in more than 20 schools! To learn more and sign up, email: kathy@engagingcreativeminds.org

Lowcountry Herald Potluck and Donation Drive! The Lowcountry Herald is a newspaper dedicated to helping the homeless. We make newspapers, give them to the homeless, and the homeless in turn give them away and ask for a three dollar donation. The homeless vendors keep the money as a form of income. They hold a potluck everySunday at 12:452pm on Trident Tech’s Downtown campus. Volunteers are needed each week for this to bring and/or serve food to the homeless. Bringing food is appreciated, but not mandatory. They also collect a wide variety of donated items, from toiletries, blankets, clothing, etc. For more information about the Lowcountry Herald and volunteer opportunities, please email: lowcountryherald@gmail.com

Reading Partners! Reading Partners Charleston, a volunteer-based nonprofit literacy organization, is looking for volunteer tutors.  The organization offers one-on-one literacy tutoring to struggling readers in under-resourced elementary schools in Charleston, Berkeley and Florence counties.   Using a research-proven curriculum, volunteer tutors meet with a student for one hour each week to develop and practice skills crucial to reading proficiently.   In 2014-15, 77% of the students enrolled in the program accelerated their rate of learning and 67% narrowed their literacy gaps with their peers who read at grade level. The program is currently serving 570 students, but has another 140 students who are waiting for a tutor.  By becoming a Reading Partner and volunteering as little as one hour a week, you can help mentor and teach a child to learn to read – unlocking a critical skill that is the foundation for future learning.  For more information or to sign up, visit www.readingpartners.org or call Alexis Johns at 843-860-3915.

Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visit www.cischarleston.org and/or emaildbrown@cischarleston.org

 Beacon Hospice! Beacon Hospice is committed to making quality Hospice care available and accessible to terminally ill persons and their families, regardless of the ability to pay, in a manner consistent with the highest Hospice standards.  We are committed to advocacy for the needs of terminally ill persons and their families, while dedicating ourselves to provide comfort, dignity, privacy, and care efficiently and effectively.  Our commitment to the Hospice Philosophy of care includes compassionate staff dedicated to continuously improve and enhance the care we provide, respect the patient’s choices for care, respond to changing community needs and continue to expand the breadth, scope, professionalism, sensitivity, efficiency and effectiveness of our services to the terminally ill and their families.  Please contact Terry Frasier at 843-972-0500 to discuss volunteer opportunities.

Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215

 

 

 

New Year, New Service!

As we are finally getting back in the groove of the New Year (and SUPER fun 8 AMs), the Center for Civic Engagement is getting its groove on too!  For those of you new to the office, our mission is to focus on community development both inside and outside the College of Charleston community.  We do this by emphasizing education, direct service, and critical reflection.

This year we will be casting a lot of light on our recurring service events with different community partners.  These partners include Neighborhood House, Keep Charleston Beautiful, and Lowcountry Food Bank.  The service with Neighborhood House, One80 Place and Lowcountry Food Bank will be focusing on the issues people face when experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, while Keep Charleston Beautiful will be focusing on litter, environmental and other social issues around Charleston.

The Alternative Break program has a fresh round of Spring Break trips to Washburn, TN, Charlotte, NC and Louisville, KY.  The trip to Washburn will be focusing on Environmental Justice through engaging in organic gardening, conservation projects and eco-construction projects while also having the opportunity to practice daily yoga, evening hikes and vegetarian meals prepared by a local chef. Those in Charlotte will be learning about sustainable and affordable housing, working with Habitat for Humanity on home construction and education of the current housing crisis. Participants in the Louisville trip will be educated on refugee resettlement, partnering with Kentucky Refugee Ministries to organize warehouse donation and serve a direct impact by preparing welcome kits of household items for incoming refugees. In addition, there are exciting Maymester opportunities to Greece and Puerto Rico, focusing on Sustainable Tourism and Permaculture with Environmental Justice, respectively.

The Bonner Leader program is very excited to announce the return of their Engage and Empower’s “Get Up and Go Get It” week this spring.  Engage and Empower is an opportunity for students to get more involved with organizations both on and off campus and gives Bonner leaders an opportunity to facilitate group presentations.

If you are interested in any of the above items, feel free to stop by our office in 203 Lightsey.  It’s going to be a great year, let’s spend it becoming engaged, active citizens!

 

Active Citizenship: A Compilation of Student Ideals

“There is power in identity.”- Bryan Stevenson

Here at the Center for Civic Engagement we like to identify as Active Citizens.  Having language attached to what we are doing gives us an identity, and having an identity makes us a movement- people who are striving to to be intentional and work in solidarity with the communities we serve.  Using the term “Active Citizen” both enforces being part of a movement, and defines what we strive to achieve through serving the community.  As “citizens” we are accepting that we are members of society, and with that we accept the rights, privileges, and duties given to us by the community.  By adding “active” to this definition, we are embracing a state of progress and action towards the betterment of the community, rather than just giving ones support.  This terminology is used across the country in regards to college campuses pursuing civic engagement and community development.

The CCE as a whole defines it as “actively putting the needs of the community in the forefront of your mind”, but we also believe that it can carry different meanings for everyone.  Several students take this definition further by seeing active citizenship as a lens through which you see the world.  This means that you see how each of your actions could potentially affect the community you are in, and this effects your everyday decisions.  Viewing active citizenship as a lens also shows that this lens can evolve with time.  It is a process towards becoming more engaged and aware of the issues that surround your community.  Katie Joiner (sophomore) defines active citizenship as, “constantly and organically considering the impact that everything you do and everything that you see done has on the communities you’re a part of.”  This use of the word organic implies that truly active citizens no longer need to think about being an active citizen.  Meeting the needs of the community is now one of their highest priorities.

Students also shared examples of active citizens they try to model their life after.  Sam Brophy (senior) mentions CofC’s own Maggie Szeman as an active citizen role model. She says, “[Maggie] embodies passion about service, and is always inspiring me.”  Passion is often seen as a driving force behind embodying this view of the world.  Without passion, the work you do is just work and there is no sense of true fulfillment.  Active citizenship is more than serving the community because you want to; it is serving the community to fight for justice while furthering your understanding of the communities needs.

The Active Citizenship Continuum is used to place yourself along the process toward active citizenship.  It is used as a guide to further your path toward becoming a truly active citizen.

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Nicole Fernandez (senior) talks about how active citizenship is a constantly evolving life-long process, and how you can always become a more active citizen.  Her personal definition of active citizenship involves, “both a desire to know everything you can, as well as an awareness of the fact that you will never know all there is to know. It also involves a desire to cultivate compassion and connection on both the local and familiar levels, as well as the broader and unfamiliar levels.”  Through the cultivation of compassion, individuals gain empathy.  Empathy gives people the means of truly understanding the needs of a community.  With understanding stems the intentional life choices that define active citizens.

Weekly Digest for November 2nd

Civic Engagement Weekly Digest │ November 2nd, 2015

Read below to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities in the Charleston community. Volunteer announcements are either one-time events or ongoing service opportunities. Contact information is included with each entry. If you are searching for more volunteer opportunities email our office at: volunteer@cofc.edu. Please make sure to register/sign-up for events you plan on attending!

 

One-Time Service

  •   Veteran’s Day! This Veteran’s Day, November 11th, we will be creating a remembrance garden of American flags in the Cistern Yard for all student, staff and faculty veterans (9-10am). We will also serve lunch and play games with veterans at the VA Medical Center’s Patriots Harbor Community Living Center (10:45am-2:15pm, Registration Required). In the evening, we will be screening, “When I Came Home”, the emotional story of coming home after fighting for your country (7-9pm). For more information, how to register and get involved, email: volunteer@cofc.edu.
  • Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week!  This national event is put on annually, the week before Thanksgiving (U.S.). This year, between November 14th and 21st, the Center for Civic Engagement will be partnering with other campus offices and organizations, to educate students, faculty and staff about the issues people experiencing homelessness and hunger deal with on an almost daily basis. To take action sign-up for one of our Recurring Service opportunities! #cofcHHAW

 

Recurring Service

  • Keep Charleston Beautiful! Keep Charleston Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and the City of Charleston, conducts environmental clean ups of debris around the Charleston area. Volunteers go to specific neighborhoods, streets, parks and marshes to help keep Charleston beautiful! Our next clean-up is November 14th from 8:30am to 12:30pm. To sign up or get more information, please email: volunteer@cofc.edu. (Part of #cofcHHAW)
  • Lowcountry Food Bank! The Lowcountry Food Bank, located in North Charleston, helps feed children, adults, seniors and families in need along coastal South Carolina. Come pack, sort, clean food while getting to know your fellow Cougars! Your next opportunity is November 20th, from 12:30-3:30pm! Limited to the first ten volunteers! Emailvolunteer@cofc.edu to register! *Transportation provided (Part of #cofcHHAW)
  • Neighborhood House Farmer’s Market Gleaning and Monday Market! Neighborhood House is a part of Our Lady of Mercy Outreach. They help feed, clothe, house, and counsel those in need. They have partnered with Fields to Families, an organization working with local farmers to bring fresh produce to those who may go hungry. The gleaning takes place Saturday, November 14th, from 1pm-3pm in Marion Square. The Monday Market is the opportunity for the community to pick up the produce, also learn ways to prepare and get the most out of these products. The Monday Market, takes place the following Monday, November 16th, after the Gleaning, between 11:00 am -1:30 pm. To sign up, email: volunteer@cofc.edu. (Part of #cofcHHAW)

 

Community Partner Events and Volunteer Opportunities

  • St. Andrew’s Parks & Playground Halloween Carnival! St. Andrew’s Parks & Playground is seeking volunteers for their Halloween Carnival, Friday, October 30th from 4-9pm. Volunteers will help run carnival games and lightly scare kids on the haunted hayride. Transportation from campus and dinner are provided, while kid friendly costumes are highly encouraged. For more information and to sign up contact Amanda Collins at (843) 763-4360 or recreation@standrewsparks.com
  • LUNG FORCE Run/Walk! The American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Run/Walk is Saturday, November 14 from 7-11am at the Folly Beach Fishing Pier. We are seeking volunteers to help us with event day setup, registration, directing participants along the route, and handing out water. It’s a fun, exciting and inspiring event. We hope you will consider being a part of it! Please email MargaretAnn.Mabry@LungSE.org if interested.
  • Communities in Schools! Communities in Schools and Lambs Elementary need energetic, caring mentors and tutors! Volunteers could work in multiple schools and gain valuable experience, while helping elementary students learn and grow! To get more information and become a volunteer, visit www.cischarleston.org and/or emaildbrown@cischarleston.org
  • Sandpiper Activities Volunteers! Sandpiper Premier Senior Living is looking for volunteers to interact with their residents in a multitude of ways! They are seeking motivated and energetic volunteers leading games (bingo, cross words, puzzles, shuffle board, etc.), helping put together socials, bible study and group luncheons. Interested parties should contact Marva Bland, Activities Director at (843) 881-3210 ext. 2215
  • Teacher’s Supply Closet! Teacher’s Supply Closet is a local organization, which allows educators from Title 1, low-income schools access to free classroom supplies. They have multiple volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved, from helping with Teacher shopping (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30pm-6:30pm) or restocking and warehouse work. Tolearn more and sign up or visit their website: http://teacherssupplycloset.wix.com/teacherssupplycloset

 

Sustainability and Charleston by William Hester

“The past few years have been very transformative for Charleston in terms of adopting sustainability oriented initiatives and practices. The past five years alone have seen the unofficial adoption by the city council of the city’s Green Plan, the opening of Growfood Carolina to encourage the cultivation and distribution of locally grown produce, growth of the city’s recycling program, etc. All of these initiatives are influential in divesting our emission levels from long distance imports, and in curbing the waste we generate from our consumption in general. With the end of Bee’s Ferry landfill lifecycle in sight, and the decline of small scale local agriculture, it is a breath of fresh air to see diverse conservation efforts popping up around the peninsula with the rapidity that we have experienced. To see the community making a push towards a more sustainable lifestyle is very reassuring, but are these efforts a sign that Charleston is on the right path towards becoming truly sustainable? What does it mean to be sustainable anyway, and how does one go about achieving what they decide it to be?

When looking to define sustainability a good place to start is with the word itself. The heart of the term is formed by the word “sustain.” One could say then that when trying to live sustainably the key is to do so in a fashion that sustains oneself and the environment in which one is living. To do both of these things would mean finding a balance in life so that you minimize your impact on your surroundings and the other lives that inhabit it while ensuring your own comfortable existence within the confines of your environment.  Can we say that the efforts mentioned above will allow us to achieve these goals?

With our recycling efforts we are trying to take the materials that we produce and develop systems so that we can reuse them, effectively extending their lifespan and usefulness. Promoting local agriculture allows us to become more in tune with our food production systems and raises awareness about how our food consumption habits affect local communities.  Having a green plan, even if it hasn’t been officially adopted by the city, tells us that the people of Charleston are aware that their lifestyle will not sustain themselves or their community and that a call to action is necessary to collect it. Of these three examples that I have listed I would say that only the later two are on the right track to achieving a sustainable lifestyle. Our recycling programs, although useful, only divert the waste we generate and don’t actually address the core issue that our consumption produces so much of it in the first place. Investing in local produces reinvigorates communal interaction and makes people more attune with their community, and the green plan shows that people are at least interested in preserving it.

Gaining popular interest in sustainability is no small feat in and of itself. I would say that the hardest part about adopting a sustainable lifestyle is first recognizing that your habits don’t achieve the balance that we mentioned earlier, and then adopting new ones that do. Most people in modern American society have developed habits of mass consumption and a disregard for the consequences of it. These habits are already having an influential effect on the world, so much so that it is now officially considered a threat to national security by the United States government. So pressing are the issues we have developed through our consumption that many major coastal cities are undertaking efforts to modify their infrastructure so that climate change does not result in the mass displacement of their denizens. Unfortunately the city of Charleston has yet to climb aboard this effort. It’s kind of ironic that a city so steeped in tradition and dedicated to the preservation of its history as Charleston is would display such a persistent hesitance to commit to a plan of action to preserve itself.

It is clear that Charleston is beginning to become aware that its habits do not allow it to live symbiotically with its environment. It is beginning to take steps to ameliorate that, but it takes more than the installation of recycling programs to achieve that goal. There is a tipping point to achieving true sustainability between becoming aware of one’s impact on their surroundings and taking the necessary action to act on that awareness. Right now Charleston is starting to look at itself and is beginning to work towards achieving that awareness, but it will be a while yet before it is ready to act on it. I think that ultimately it will involve a change in the mindset of the people, one that is oriented more towards empathy for others and their environment as opposed to personal gain if we ever hope to achieve true sustainability. Having empathy towards the environment and community will imbue people with the desire to want to preserve them. When we no longer have the desire to exploit others or the environment for our own gain then we will have learned how to truly live and work together, and can call ourselves sustainable.”

 

Welcome Back!

As another school year begins, the Center for Civic Engagement is getting back into swing!  For those of you new to the office, we focus on community development both inside and outside the College of Charleston community.  We do this by focusing on education, direct service, and meaningful reflection.

This year we will be putting a lot of emphasis on our recurring service events with different community partners.  These partners include Neighborhood House, Keep Charleston Beautiful, and Lowcountry Food Bank.  The service with Neighborhood House and Lowcountry Food Bank will be focusing on the issues of homelessness and food insecurity, while Keep Charleston Beautiful will be focusing on litter and how it relates to other social issues around Charleston.

The Alternative Break program is also getting started as we prepare three Alternative Fall Break trips to Atlanta GA, Asheville NC, and Beaufort SC.  The trips to Atlanta and Asheville will be focusing on homelessness and food insecurity, in both urban and more rural areas respectively, and the trip to Beaufort will be focusing on migrant worker rights.  We are also looking forward to planning the Spring, Weekend, and Maymester breaks (applications for Site Leader positions are available, email cofc.alternativebreak@gmail.com if interested).

The Bonner Leader program will be spending the semester training the new Bonner leaders and prepping for Engage and Empower week in the spring.  Engage and Empower is an opportunity for students to get more involved with organizations both on and off campus and gives Bonner leaders an opportunity to facilitate group presentations.  The freshman and sophomore Bonner leaders will also be going on an Alternative Break this fall, to a not yet determined location.

If you are interested in any of the above items, feel free to stop by our office in 203 Lightsey.  Its going to be a great year, lets spend it becoming active citezens!

In Partnership

A sunny beach in Greece

Almost four years ago the College of Charleston Center for Civic Engagement partnered with Earth, Sea, & Sky (ESS) located in Zakynthos, Greece through our Alternative Break Program. (Find out more about that here) In the past four years I have seen students so impacted by the experience that they return to Charleston and change their majors, minors, jobs, goals, minds, and for some, quite literally their whole life trajectory.

The natural beauty of Zakynthos attracts many tourists during the summer. (An estimated 40,000 visitors from all over the world come to the island each summer.) Of course many challenges arise from such an increased population; traffic, pollution, noise, and exponential increased waste, just to name a few. Although tourism is more profitable than traditional industries, its exploitation is detrimental to the countryside and wildlife. There are large amounts of litter being dumped on beaches and in the forests, and the increased hunting is endangering migrating birds. The Loggerhead Sea Turtle and Mediterranean Monk Seal’s habitats are now completely overwhelmed, and people and development continue to impede on their habitats. Earth, Sea & Sky was established in 1993 by Yannis Vardakastanis who became a full-time conservationist in 1991 and has been steadily working to protect the Caretta Caretta Turtles and marine life in and around the island.

The original aim of our service project was to show how conservation and sustainable tourism can work together to benefit tourists, the locals, and wildlife and play an important role in helping to safeguard the future of the Caretta Caretta turtles by helping to provide educational information to tourists and locals. However, it has become much more than that as our students have had the opportunity to begin to understand the complexity of issues involved in balancing environmental concerns in times of economic crisis. Students have the opportunity to participate in meaningful direct service as well as contemplative discussion with the organization’s staff that allows them to experience and understand the social issues at a much deeper level than they ever could in the classroom.

As we continue to work to deepen our partnership with ESS, the Center for Civic Engagement was fortunate to host both Yannis Vardakastanis and project manager, Jonna Hrab Pedersen in Charleston this past March. Yannis and Jonna had the opportunity to meet with staff from the SC Aquarium, SC Department of Natural Resources, CofC professors and students and even had a chance to visit two east coast rescue centers. Over the last few years Earth, Sea & Sky has been raising funds to build a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Station in Zakynthos so being able to see firsthand the staff and equipment that will be necessary to do this is a crucial step towards completing that goal.

Our trip to South Carolina has been a very good and educational experience. Meeting the students from the College of Charleston and the people working with sea turtles in the area has been amazing. We can now see light at the end of the tunnel and we go back to Greece with hope. Hope is a powerful thing that we have been surviving without for a while. We are amazed with the efforts the Stephanie Visser and her students are putting into conservation and we are pleased to be a part of that. Keep up the good work and we hope to see more of CofC in Greece soon.

We will continue to expand this partnership in mutually beneficial ways and in the future continue to have volunteers, researchers, and interns coming from the College of Charleston to work alongside Earth, Sea, & Sky’s efforts. Are you ready to let yourself be changed? Let us know if you are interested in volunteering as an individual or applying to participate in our Maymester 2016 trip to Zakynthos.

Sandy turtle tracks
Sheep and flowers in Greece
A captured sea turtles

Incarceration of American Youth – Natalie Martin

The school to prison pipeline refers to the national trend of criminalizing misbehaviors that happen in schools across the nation. There are enormous implications for students, in particular male students of color, given the changes in how school culture and discipline is handled across the nation.

School to Prison Pipeline

  • African American students are 3.5 times more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled.
  • Black children account for 18% of students, but account for 46% of those suspended more than once.
  • Students who enter the juvenile justice system face many barriers blocking their re-entry into traditional schools, and can be haunted by their criminal records later in life. The vast majority never graduate from high school, and may be denied student loans, public housing, or occupational licenses.
  • While approximately 8.6% of public school children have been identified as having disabilities that impact their ability to learn, a recent survey of correctional facilities found that students with disabilities are represented in jail at a rate of nearly four times that.

Department of Juvenile Justice Statistics

  • On a given day, 70,000 juvenile offenders are held in residential placements.
  • On a given day in SC, between 788-919 juveniles are held in residential placements.
  • There are 1.7 million juvenile cases each year. That is 4,600 per day.
  • Charleston County accounts for approximately 10% of all juveniles detained in South Carolina.
  • 1 out of every 5 youth brought before the court are detained.
  • An estimated 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults every year
  • African American youth make up 62% of juveniles tried as adults.
  • The racial breakdown for youth in SC detention centers is 66% black, 30% white, and 4% identify as a different race or ethnicity.
  • The gender breakdown for youth detained in SC is 78% male and 22% female.
  • 14 states have no minimum age for trying youth as adults.
  • 365 children have been legally executed in the United States.
  • There are 73 children sentenced to life without parole in prisons today – 49% are black, 10% are Latin@.
  • Of the 73 children sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses, all are people of color.

As one can see from the statistics above, the rates of children involved in the juvenile justice system are staggering. The problem is much larger than just the juvenile justice system. We miss the point if we look at single incidents to try and define the problem. The issue at hand is the intersection of multiple systems that are steeped in historic racism that perpetuate inequity in the world today. After the murder of Michael Brown in St. Louis, Brittany Packnett said, “Education did not save Mike Brown. Racism killed him.” That truth can be applied to many historical and current events. The events during Red Summer, the lack of accountability for the white instigators in those events and numerous others, the abuses against people of color and the lack of any types of reparations, Jim Crow and the history of lynchings, the foundation of our public school system and the current school to prison pipeline, housing disparities, income disparities, the fact that white high school graduates still out earn black college graduates today are all connected and are one much larger systemic injustice caused by white supremacy. In some ways there is this beat the odds mentality about students of color, but that is the wrong mindset. We must change the odds, but that will require those with power and privilege to educate themselves, give up power, be uncomfortable, and stop perpetuating the same forms of oppression that our country was founded on.

So that begets the question, what can you do when the problem is large and deeply rooted in our history. While it can sometimes seem that small things won’t make a difference, the AAST 300 class, in collaboration with the Charleston County Department of Juvenile Justice, is tackling an issue that will hopefully have a large impact on the youth detained in the juvenile justice facility in North Charleston. After a recent trip to the facility, our class noticed the limited number of books in the detention center’s library and decided that was something we could help change. In addition to increasing the number of reading materials, we also raise awareness about the current context of the juvenile justice system and the school to prison pipeline.

We are collecting paperback books for kids ages 10-18 between now and April 17th. If you have any books you would like to donate, please drop them off in the box located in the Center for Civic Engagement, Room 203, Lightsey Center.