One thing about Carleton that became painfully clear through my mentorship is that not too many Carleton students make the effort to be part of the Northfield community. I think that is sad because this is a small town and what the colleges do, affects everyone who lives in this community. Likewise the community members are the people that keep the colleges running smoothly. I think that college students, far away from their old social network, get frustrated with the homogeneous new network that is supposed to compensate for the family and community. I don't think you can get the full breath of support that you need without finding friends that can give new perspectives and offer new insights and new enthusiasms to draw you out of the sometimes stressful campus life.
Sarah O’Malley ‘08
"I think it is very important to support academic civic engagement at Carleton because it offers a unique learning experience to the students here. Often, it is hard to relate studies to the "outside" world. However, with academic civic engagement the practical application is working with the learning. This is of utmost importance. Also, I think it is important to support academic civic engagement at Carleton because it allows Carleton to establish a strong connection with the community as well as to make connections within the community. Carleton and St. Olaf are often accused of being in a “Bubble." Academic civic engagement allows this bubble to be popped as students are working one-on-one with community leaders, making a change in our community. Carleton should not be a place where one comes for four years and leaves without having any impact on the community. With the support of academic civic engagement students are able to make change in the community. Often after these courses are completed, the projects continue, as the students have made strong connections with community members. These relationships must be fostered in order to affirm Carleton's mission statement."
Amber Swiggum ‘06
"These types of trips are valuable because they offer students real-world encounters with the people affected by various issues discussed in classes from academic disciplines such as educational studies, sociology & anthropology, and economics."
Sam Estes ‘08
"The College needs to foster a civic engagement culture, to put it bluntly. There is simply not enough emphasis put on hands-on experience, service learning, and community involvement. I worked with only one other Carleton student on HealthFinders fundraising activities, and many, many St. Olaf students. I believe that St. Olaf has more of a community awareness, and Carleton needs to develop a more full awareness as well. Northfield has two great colleges at its disposal - as far as I'm concerned, there should be NO "problems" not being addressed in the town."
Ben Pacht ‘06
"I think it's important for the college to support these opportunities because it can really show the community that Carleton cares about such things as minorities in the community, etc, and that we're not just students who are in, Northfield for four years and who don't care about the community at all."
"The college should support these kinds of opportunities because it allows us to not exist in the "Carleton bubble" of wealth and academics. Coming from DC, I was pretty skeptical initially about how much I'd want to become a part of the larger community outside of Carleton, thinking it was probably pretty irrelevant to my life as a student here. However, I've found every community service program I've participated in really enriching and worthwhile, and in the case of Project Exchange, really fun. I look forward to seeing the kids and hanging out with them every week and it's also a good way to sneak in some physical activity. Apart from those benefits, I would like to think we're helping out the kids. Recently, a few of them have been talking about how much they like Carleton and one of them even said they wanted to study here eventually. This, in a strictly selfish sense, improves Carleton's image in the community, but more importantly, we have so many wonderful resources here that are under-utilized and that students view as pretty standard, but are really cool and exciting to low-income kids from Faribault. I have also been able to apply some of the things I've learned and observed through Project Exchange to Educational Studies classes here, and I think there's room for a lot of growth with service learning."
Emily Brimsek ‘06
I love the opportunity that this program gives me to work in the community and learn more about Northfield rather than simply being content to stay within the Carleton bubble. I never realized how much I do enjoy working with kids. The patience and creativity that it requires makes me a better person, and the kids have taught me to be a much more flexible and relaxed person by putting things in perspective. Working with them is rejuvenating, and seeing the dedication of the teachers is inspiring. I leave Longfellow every day ready to tackle anything. Plus, they appreciate our help and our efforts so much;it's nice to know you really make a difference somewhere."
Chelsea Couillard '07
“There is nothing more valuable than teaching people how to support the community that supports them. The spring break trip inspired me to do Americorps Habitat after Carleton. Look for me there.”
Elizabeth Lienesch ‘08
“These experiences allow college students to experiment and see other people and what their lives are like. College can be surreal and it’s good to talk to people outside the college who think differently and have different problems.”
“I learned the importance of listening—more often than not, the middle school girls just wanted someone to listen. And I’ve found that when women actively listen to me, it helps me to de-stress and keep in mind what’s really important to me: my relationships with people.”
Erin Quinn '07
“At Girls Rock the Capitol, I helped teach a workshop to elementary school-aged girls about the importance of making informed decisions when voting. We first gave the girls a ballot that read things such as “school,” “ice-cream,” and “recess,” and asked them to vote. We then collected those and gave another ballot that read “School will be year-round,” “Ice-cream only comes in spinach flavor,” and “Push-ups will replace recess,” and asked the girls to vote again. In this way the girls learned that they need to really know what they’re voting for. Then we helped the girls make campaign posters for issues that are important to them.”
Karen Aydinian ‘08
“[I learned that] college students are less cynical and more concerned with their community than people give them credit for.”
Jeff McDonald ‘07
“Not only does it serve as a support for young girls and give them role models, we as Carleton women learn from them and each other as well. I’ve become friends with women that I probably never would’ve met here otherwise, and they have enhanced my experience here.”
Erin Quinn ‘07
"Because simply put, applying knowledge is the only way you're going to really learn. You can read and read, and write and write, all day long, but not actually applying your knowledge to better society is an incredible waste. Then you get 4.0 students who get a 1.0 in life. Many would say that you are at Carleton to learn for 4 years, and after graduation, you can go "attack" the world. But in my opinion, that's a ridiculous attitude. You need to prepare yourself NOW to attack the world, and what better time to practice than now, when you're young, idealistic, and without kids?"
"I found out a lot about Northfield immigrants...it was so interesting. It brought to life all of the different situations. It has been one of my best classes because of that component."