Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Junior Emily Michienzi received a Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
From a young age, junior Emily Michienzi’s mother instilled in her a desire to see the world and expand her horizons. That is why she has always believed that travel is one of the greatest forms of education.
And the Lake Pleasant resident will get the chance to do both as she travels to London during her January Field Period™. Michienzi intends to learn about the social problems plaguing England’s capital city as a participant in Comparative Social Issues, a sociology course offered through Cayuga Community College.
“As a sociology and political science/history major, this trip will greatly enhance my education,” said Michienzi. “In my sociology courses, we often discuss culture. One concept that is foundational in sociology is cultural relativism. This concept is when we see another culture and its practices in its own right, rather than using our culture to judge another’s as right or wrong.”
By traveling to London and experiencing a new culture, Michienzi intends to use cultural relativism “in a more practical manner and then translate that practice into my classroom discussions and other course requirements.”
This trip also appeals to Michienzi’s interest in history.
“America’s history with Great Britain frequently comes up in my class conversations and readings,” she said. “We always compare our government to Great Britain’s since our government was influenced by theirs. One of our day trips in London will be to Downing Street, the British seat of government. I will be able to see their government up close and learn, while on site, more about their government. By seeing this, I will be able to understand how our government is similar and different from Britain’s and then share that knowledge in my classes.”
In addition to visiting Downing Street, Michienzi intends to visit the British Museum, Parliament, and Windsor Castle, among other sites.
“These sites will show us not only the history of one of the world’s super powers, but also the culture and issues the country has faced over time,” she said. “From Britain’s era of serfdom to their current struggle as a world power, we will learn how Britain has changed and impacted the lives of its citizens and the world.”
Added Michienzi: “This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change the way I think, and understand the world and my classes here at Keuka College.”
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Senior Mackenzie Ellis received a Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students who pursue a culturally-oriented Field Period™.
For senior Mackenzie Ellis, Keuka College has always encouraged and promoted diversity, challenging students to see the true value in a global mindset.
Ellis, a biology major, says she has been “blessed” with the opportunity to experience other cultures through the people she has met on campus and by attending the various programs offered by the College.
“This is a commendable portion of my education at Keuka College,” said Ellis, a resident of Owego. “However, the knowledge and understanding I have gained can only be further enriched by visiting the places I have learned so much about. My favorite was always Africa. With no travel experience to date, the first country I would like to check off my long list of places to experience is South Africa.”
By visiting South Africa during her Field Period™, Ellis believes she will not only enrich her college experience, but also the experiences of those with whom she interacts after she returns to campus.
“South Africa boasts a plethora of well-represented cultures and religions, which will allow me to continue to be globally minded,” said Ellis. “By traveling to South Africa, I will inevitably acquire a refreshed world view, in addition to firsthand experience with other religions and societies.”
And Ellis will take advantage of her Field Period™ opportunity by engaging in a variety of activities which will allow her to see the various facets that make up the culture as a whole.
“I plan to meditate at a Buddhist temple, visit a Hindu temple, and volunteer at orphanages,” she said. “I also plan to visit a an Apartheid museum, and speak with those who experienced Apartheid before its collapse. By doing so, I will develop a more personal understanding of the challenges and suffering facing minorities. I believe that through understanding our mistakes in the past, we may improve the future.”
Ellis also intends to visit an animal reserve; tour Cape Town and Cape Town University; go to UShaka Marine World; enjoy the Durban Botanical Gardens; and visit the Phansi Museum, host of one of the biggest and most spectacular collections of African arts and crafts in the world.
According to Ellis, she also has the “rare” opportunity to partake in a traditional Zulu wedding, “a treat not normally extended outside the Zulu culture itself,” she said. “This unique experience will allow me to celebrate life and happiness in a different way, to complement my new understanding of oppression and pain.”
Added Ellis: “Traveling is an essential part of becoming a well-rounded adult in today’s global society. In order to fully appreciate and succeed in the world, we must take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in other cultures and ways of living. By traveling to South Africa, I will develop beyond my current experience thus complimenting and completing my education here at Keuka College in the most effective and memorable way possible.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on recipients who received Field Period™ scholarships. Senior Julian Díaz received a Spiritual Exploration Field Period™, which challenges students to work either in an overtly spiritual or religious organization such as a church, church camps, or religious charities. Students can also choose to work in other organizations in which the student clearly demonstrates that this Field Period™ will engage his or her own spiritual beliefs in a demonstrable and clear way.
Like many people, Keuka College senior Julian Díaz wants answers to some of life’s biggest questions, like ‘who am I? what is the meaning of life? why am I here? and how should I live my life?’
“These questions led me all over the spectrum of intellectual discovery for answers,” he said. “Growing up in a family that did not have strong religious or spiritual traditions, I was keen to explore different ways of evaluating the big questions of human experience from an early age.”
Díaz will have the opportunity to seek those answers as he completes his Field Period™ at the Rochester Zen Center (RZC) later this month. The biology major from Keuka Park has been accepted into the center’s residential Zen training program, where trainees are expected to participate in a rigorous, full-day schedule of many sitting meditations and lectures by senior members.
“We will also have private instructional meetings with the center’s Roshi, Bodhin Kjolhede, who is the abbot and director of the RZC, as well as help with domestic work in and around the RZC and surrounding community,” said Díaz.
The RZC was one of the first Zen Buddhist establishment in the U.S., founded in 1966 by the late Roshi Philip Kapleau. Kapleau was an influential figure in bringing Zen Buddhist ideology to the west, most notably by his publication entitled The Three Pillars of Zen, which was the first book in English to provide a detailed and intimate view into the highly disciplined and esoteric world of Japanese Zen practices.
This Field Period™ will not be the first time Díaz will participate in the Zen experience at the RZC. Two years ago, he attended a full-day Zazen (sitting meditation) workshop where he was introduced to the basic principles of Zen.
“I was given basic instruction on how to practice the sitting meditation that is central to the Zen monastic lifestyle,” said Díaz. “To date, this experience is one of the most spiritually profound I have ever had. I have been very eager to return to the RZC to continue learning and practicing this lifestyle.”
According to Díaz, what he has lacked the most in his spiritual journey “was actually practicing, and more importantly testing the validity of, the teachings I was trying to take to heart,” he said. “Outside of my formal education, I have spent the last five years studying eastern traditions and philosophies. In particular, the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism have resonated with me the strongest.”
Added Díaz: “Through this Field Period™, I want to continue my study of these spiritual practices and customs. I hope to gain a deeper connection and awareness of myself, and of the deep-seeded desires and suppositions that subconsciously dictate my thoughts and behavior. I hope to cultivate stronger self efficacy, self respect, self discipline, as well as stronger appreciation and compassion for the outside world and all its inhabitants.”
For the eighth straight year, Keuka College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 690 colleges and universities for the role they play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.
Keuka College was one of 15 schools in New York state to earn Honor Roll with Distinction recognition. It’s the fourth time in five years the College has earned that status.
Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
In the past year, Keuka College students dedicated nearly 143,000 hours of service to the community. Some of the many local organizations and programs that benefit from the time and talents of Keuka students include: Yates County Humane Society; Clinton Crest Manor, an adult care facility in Penn Yan; Child and Family Resources Inc; Head Start in Penn Yan; Relay for Life; Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, an annual day of community service organized by students, faculty, and staff and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce; and the DRIVE (diversity, responsibility, inclusion, vision, experiential learning) program, a partnership between the Yates ARC, Penn Yan Central School, and the College that provides on-campus learning and life training skills to area students with special needs, ages 18-21.
CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. It is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.
To learn more about the Honor Roll, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/honor-roll
Keuka College must be crazy for community service. After a record spring on behalf of the community, including nearly 1,000 service hours by almost 200 members of the campus body, primarily students, following May floods that devastated Penn Yan and Branchport, this year’s Angel Tree benefit set a new record.
Donations given in 2014 on behalf of 31 needy children and two additional families, each with four children, totaled $9,033 – that’s four times greater than last year’s contributions, according to Valerie Webster, who supervises students holding roles as community service advocates in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Community Service Advocates coordinate the Angel Tree program for Keuka College.
Similar to Angel Tree programs elsewhere, participants select an angel-shaped ornament from a Christmas tree with the name of a local child or family in need and their wish list of gift items. Donors then bring items to the sponsoring organization so each child can have a merry Christmas.
According to Webster, who delivered goodies Dec. 4 with community service student advocates, “some of the bags are so heavy, it will take two students to lift them to get out of here.”
The partner agency receiving donations for local families, Child and Family Resources, Inc. is a unique family-centered service organization with locations in Rushville, Penn Yan, Geneva, and Seneca Falls. For nearly 40 years, the agency has offered programs to support of the educational, emotional, and social needs of families and children of all ages. Alicia Avellanda, lead early childhood educator at the Penn Yan office said the agency is “incredibly grateful to partner with Keuka College for this very special program. Thanks to the wonderful students and college community we are able to share some holiday spirit with local families.”
Webster said she could not count the number of participants among students, faculty and staff – she only knew it exceeded all previous participation. According to her, not only were students, staff and faculty physically requesting “angels” from the tree, but even ASAP adjunct professors emailed in, sight unseen, to request information on a child they could support with Christmas gifts. Even local merchants, including Weaver’s Bicycle Shop on Route 14A, got involved. According to Webster, the shop owner sold students in the Rotoract club three bicycles at reduced cost with no shipping and handling, to give to a family who lost everything in the May floods. The Rotoract club sponsors an entire family for the Angel Tree project each year, she said.
“I just want to say thank you to the whole campus community for doing this, “she said. “I’m very grateful and I’m so proud of everyone right now.”