Campus Conversations — Service in the Community

By | September 11, 2019

[ Background music ]>>Today it’s all
about the community. You’ve heard us say it many
times before your community’s college is Montgomery College. Coming up next on Campus
Conversations we’ll talk about how Montgomery
College programs, employees and students are
serving your communities. [ Music ]>>Jason Rivera:
Hi I’m Jason Rivera and this is Campus
Conversations. Today we are looking at ways
Montgomery College connects with and provides support
to our community. With me is Nancy Newton
who is the director of Montgomery College
Citizenship Program. Nancy tell me what is
the citizenship program?>>Nancy Newton: The citizenship
program is a program to helps to prepare students,
legal permanent residents, people with a green card
for naturalization the USA and the way that we do
this is we offer classes at Rockville Campus and to
Takoma Park/Silver Spring at two different levels,
level one and level two. In our level one class
we’re going to focus more on the English skills that
students need in the interview and then also on the history
and government that they need to pass the naturalization
interviewing exam. At our level two the students
usually have a higher level of English and we’re focusing
more on an in depth look into the history and
government of the United States. Both of the levels we encourage
our students to integrate into the community
because we want them to look beyond just
becoming a citizen. Anybody can prepare anybody
to pass a test, an interview, we want to have them
look at what it means, become a productive citizen
when they do naturalize and one of the ways we do this
is we have them go out into the community to
volunteer, to get involved in our children’s
schools, join the PTA, to go to the historical
landmarks downtown, and to use their English
skills and interact with you know the
receiving community so the native born Americans. And we hope to you know foster
a relationship between the two, between the immigrant and
the non-immigrant community.>>Jason Rivera:
Sounds terrific. So how does a student
know if they’re eligible for this type of a program?>>Nancy Newton: They would
come to one of our registrations and information sessions. They have to have had a
green card for three years if they’re married to a United
States citizen, or five years if they are not married
to US citizen. And those dates are
very important. So three years if you’re
married to a US citizen with a green card, and five
years if you are not married to a United States citizen
with your green card.>>Jason Rivera: And how much
with something like this cost?>>Nancy Newton: Our
classes are free. However, the application
process is six hundred and eighty dollars, that
includes biometrics, which are fingerprints
and picture, a complete background check,
and the interview and the exam and the certificate
of naturalization. It’s not cheap so a lot of
our students you know wait and we tell them not to
apply until they’re ready because you get two chances
with one application. But we don’t want them you know
to go and to fail the interview and the exam cause their English
skills aren’t strong enough, or their history and government
skills aren’t strong enough. We want them to go and be
successful the first time, if not the first then the
second time so they don’t have to pay again and start
the whole process again. Because the complete
process from application to interview takes between
four and six months.>>Jason Rivera:
Quite a bit of time. So let me just make
sure I understand. This six hundred and eighty
dollars is not something that Montgomery College
is charging, that’s something that’s a
fee that they pay to the>>Nancy Newton: To USCIS.>>Jason Rivera: USCIS.>>Nancy Newton: We
at Montgomery College in our program we prepare people
for the interview and exam, the M400 is the application
that you have to fill out for US Naturalization. We do not do anything with that
because we are not lawyers; we’re not legal board of immigration accredited
representatives, which is a technical
term the USCIS have. So the actual application is
six hundred and eighty dollars but the classes to prepare
them that we offer are free.>>Jason Rivera: So how is that
we’re able to offer free tuition for classes like this?>>Nancy Newton: We’re very
lucky that we applied for twice and received a competitive
grant from Homeland Security and we were the only
the last round of grants we were the only
institution on the east coast that got it for citizenship
instruction. So we’re very proud of that. And the new grant
application has just come out so we’re hoping the deadline
is May 22nd and the process of applying again fingers
crossed will be able to help more students
to become US citizens.>>Jason Rivera: So you must
be a busy bee right now?>>Nancy Newton: Rather busy.>>Jason Rivera: So I think
you’re being a bit modest aren’t you? This is an award
winning program isn’t it?>>Nancy Newton: Well it is yes.>>Jason Rivera:
Tell us about it.>>Nancy Newton: Two years ago
now I believe two years ago I came into work one morning
and opened up my emails and you know the slew of emails
that we all get every morning and there was one
from the White House, interesting probably just
another press release. Well, it was actually a
award that they were giving to five different organizations
throughout the country and it was for President
Obama’s champions of change for immigrant integration. So they had heard,
we don’t know how, about having our
students becoming involved in the community, not just
you know preparing them for the interview and the
test but integrate them into community and we
went to the White House with a little ceremony and it was you know now I have
a picture of the president in my office with a letter.>>Jason Rivera: That
sounds really exciting.>>Nancy Newton: Yes it’s our
students and my instructors that give us that recognition. You know cause without
them we wouldn’t be here.>>Jason Rivera: Absolutely. So tell me these classes
when are they offered, how do students find
out about them? Those types of things.>>Nancy Newton: We have fliers
all throughout the county, we also we’re on the web. We are you know in the Tab
the Montgomery College Tab. And our classes are
offered Monday and Wednesday evening
6:30 to 9:30, Tuesday and Thursday evening 6:30
to 9:30 and then Saturday’s from 8:30 PM to 12:30 PM. So we try and have classes
when students are available because they’re all
adults, they’re working, we want to make sure that
they’re able to come to class. So that’s when we offer
when they’re available.>>Jason Rivera: And is there
a website for people to be able to go and look up
information if they needed it?>>Nancy Newton: There is,
it’s a very long website and the name escapes
me at the moment. But it’s if you type in citizenship Montgomery
College we pop right up. Type into Google
or any of those, or even in Montgomery
College itself.>>Jason Rivera: Excellent. Is there anything you
want to leave us with? We’ve got about 20 seconds left. Anything else you want
to let people know about related to the program?>>Nancy Newton: For anybody
who is very interested in you know becoming a
citizen of the United States, has a green card, you know
needs extra help maybe with the English or the
history and government, we can certainly help them. My professors and the volunteers
in the program, my aid, they’re all fantastic and we are
you know we’re a great little program doing great
things down in Wheaton. If you need me, give me
a call, send me an email and we’ll help you out.>>Jason Rivera: Excellent. Well, thank you for
taking the time to join us and to share this award
winning program with us.>>Nancy Newton: Thank
you so much Jason.>>Jason Rivera: Our producer
Marcus Rosano recently went to Takoma Park/Silver
Spring Campus to take a look at another special
Montgomery College program. It not only benefits
the community but benefits the volunteers too. [ Music ]>>Marcus Rosano: I’m
with Jessica Wyatt who is the coordinator for a partnership program
called the Montgomery College Montgomery County Public
Schools Collaborative. Jessica we know that MC
and MCPS partner in a lot of different ways but this
particular partnership actually combines service learning
student service learning in ESL Students from Montgomery
county public schools. So how does this collaboration
kind of come together and meld the two ideas of
service learning in ESOL?>>Jessica Wyatt: Well,
it kind of goes back to when the program started six
years ago at Blair High School. Statistics were showing that
students who were enrolled in ESOL were not getting
their graduation done because of one simple thing: They weren’t getting their
required seventy five service learning hours. The program started in
hopes to bridge the gap to help those students achieve
their student service learning hours and understand what
the heck is service learning, why do I need to do this? And why is this beneficial to
me outside of just graduating?>>Marcus Rosano: And
service learning hours for an MCPS student
is important because>>Jessica Wyatt:
You got to graduate.>>Marcus Rosano: Right. And how many hours does a
particular MCPS student have to do to get your diploma?>>Jessica Wyatt: Seventy five.>>Marcus Rosano: Ok. So talk a little bit about the
problems or maybe the challenges that the ESOL students were
seeing in service learning and we’re chatting before
the segment here that a lot of the stuff, a lot
of the activities that you guys are doing they’ve
never even really broached, they haven’t seen it, so
it was sort of a new thing to a lot of these students.>>Jessica Wyatt: A lot of
these students are coming from countries where service and
community service is that’s part of the culture, where now
you’re being told you have to justify what you’re doing,
you have to put a number on it, you have to write a paper
about why you’re doing it. It didn’t make sense to a lot of
those students coming from all of these different cultures. And so what we’re
doing is trying to help these students
really achieve and understand what’s going on. So we’re initiating programing
out in the community to get them to understand where they
live in Montgomery County, we’re also doing programs within
the classroom during lunch time or after school to help
students achieve those hours without having to go outside the
school grounds cause sometimes families are a little
bit nervous about letting their kids run off
and do things for other people without understanding why.>>Marcus Rosano: What are some of the challenges
that you are facing? I know it’s a new program and you’re the coordinator
of this partnership. What are some of the challenges? What are some of the goals
and how has it been received by some of the students?>>Jessica Wyatt: One of the
big challenges, a lot of it is on me, there’s only one person. So there’s not a lot of man
power but that’s really exciting because I kind of get to
bring on different players into this collaboration process. At each school there’s an
ESOL teacher that serves as the advisor for the students and they’re always there
during club meetings and help out with activities. Sometimes we’re lucky enough
to get them on weekends or after school for
different activities. Another challenge has been
kind of getting the students out of their comfort zones but
I think we really succeeded. The more activities you offer
and the more fun you have, the more into it
students become.>>Marcus Rosano: And let’s talk
about we’ve got about a minute and a half to go here but
let’s talk about a couple of the activities themselves
and you mentioned one about the Carpe Diem and
the Ethiopian students. Tell us a little bit about that.>>Jessica Wyatt: So Cape Diem
is a arts organization that’s based in Silver Spring, it’s
been going on forever and ever and a cool thing they do every
month is host a community sing. And that’s community
members come together, there’s a few performers, they’ll teach the
audience a song, everybody sings, its super fun. I had students volunteer
at that event, a group of Ethiopian girls. After the event they’re like Miss Jess we
really want to perform. And I said ok that’s great,
like you’re really high in the experience awesome. It turned out they
got it together. They picked a song. They choreographed a
performance and they wanted to wear their local garb and
they wanted to teach this group of folks how to do the Ethiopian
dance and I can’t really do it but there was a lot
of shoulder shaking and the audience is
primarily older folks. So it was really fun to see
these girls just so empowered, doing the dance and also
they’re engaging Americans in doing the dance and so
they’re sharing their culture but they’re also getting the
service learning hours out of it and afterwards we’re going to
reflect on it and write a paper, which is part of achieving
your service learning we’ve got to write about it, which is a
great thing to really reflect.>>Marcus Rosano: Fantastic. It sounds like it’s
not only needed to get your service learning
hours but it’s a lot of fun and it’s bringing a lot of
different people together, which is cool cause this
is what we’re talking about on this episode. Its MC getting into the
community and this sounds like a great partnership and it
sounds like it’s really working. But I want to thank you Jessica. For Campus Conversations
I’m Marcus Rosano. [ Music ]>>Jason Rivera: Thanks
to Marcus for that story. It’s one of the great ways that Montgomery College
is connecting students with the community. With my now is Nik Sushka, a
service learning coordinator, one of three at Montgomery
College. Nik what is service learning?>>Nik Sushka: Service learning
is a lot of different things. Actually here at Montgomery
College we use service learning in student life to help
students learn in and out of the classroom about
themselves, how to be leaders, how to use what they’re
learning in the classroom to make a positive
difference in the community.>>Jason Rivera: So how does
this connect to academics?>>Nik Sushka: It connects
in some ways to academics through the courses
that faculty teach here. Our different service learning
coordinators work with faculty to integrate service
learning into the classroom. So we meet with them
before a semester starts, finding out what assignments
they teach in the courses, how the students are
going to be learning and then we connect them
with local community partners who have projects that
students could work on where they’ll learn
what they’re applying in the classroom. So we connected through
academics explicitly that way through the courses but
then there’s all this other co-curricular programs where
students who are majors in environmental science can
come out and do trash cleanups with other local
environmental groups through leadership programs
and they’re connecting with their learning
and courses too. The assignment isn’t just
something that’s getting graded though.>>Jason Rivera: That’s a good
segway into the next question. So I know that in education
assessment is a big thing. So how do we assess
service learning?>>Nik Sushka: Well, there’s a
couple of different assessments in service learning that
go beyond the student too. The service part comes
from making partnerships in the community, helping to
create a positive change right? So we have to be able to assess
our impact in the community and we have to be able to assess
the impact on student learning. In courses we use
traditional assessments. Students take tests,
they write papers, they turn those assignments
in and faculty asses for learning outcomes. It’s really no different
in the classroom when you’re tying it directly into a learning outcome
that’s in the course. With students outside of
classrooms when you’re looking at leadership development
we might asses for things like conflict resolution
skills, or public speaking, or how to set goals
and achieve them. So we tie it specifically into
learning outcomes there too but the assessments
look a little different. We might use ePortfolios,
or interviews, reflections, things like that.>>Jason Rivera: This sounds like a great partnership
building program as well. So what are some
of the partnerships that we might have built
as a result of some of our service learning issues?>>Nik Sushka: I’m
glad you asked that. The partnerships are really
key to service learning. Without our non-profit
partners we couldn’t do service in the community in a way that
had any long standing impact. One great partnership we have is with the housing
opportunities commission. We have some courses on the
German Town Campus for instance, English, Sociology, Psychology, where students are
learning things like Childhood development
and then they’re working with the housing
opportunities commission in their family centers. These are located in a lot of
their properties and students go after school and do tutoring. So you can imagine a
student who’s learning about childhood development
in a psychology course and then go straight
from the classroom to an after school center and helps
children learn is really able to apply what they’re learning in the classroom in
a meaningful way.>>Jason Rivera:
That is phenomenal. How do students find out
about opportunities like that?>>Nik Sushka: With
the service learning that happens outside the
classroom we have students who come through student life
in lots of different ways. They’re attracted to our
programs by hearing about them from other student’s
things like that. With the academic coursework
it’s a little trickier but the best way for
students to learn about the different courses
when they’re registering for classes is to go to the
service learning website and see which courses are being
offered in that term.>>Jason Rivera:
Students also participate in pretty large projects
as well right in the service learning process.>>Nik Sushka: Yeah there’s
a lot of different ways that service learning is
structured whether it’s in a course or outside
in a program. A lot of students
do it one on one. They have a sight that they
themselves go to individually, they do fifteen or twenty hours and that’s their
assignment in the course. There are small groups
that are also in courses but then they might be part of a leadership development
program too where the group of students is working
on one project trying to solve a problem together. For instance next fall we’ll
have an architecture course that’s participating in a
smarter growth challenge. All across the state
of Maryland, colleges will be
trying to solve some of our biggest sustainability
issues in the state so they’ll be working
as a team hopefully with some other courses in
practices like engineering to try to pitch a problem or a
solution to a problem as part of the statewide contest. So it can take a lot
of different forms, it just for us the service
has to be meaningful tied with people in the community
who know the issues best and then it’s got to be tied to
some specific learning outcomes so that we know students
are learning in a meaningful way too.>>Jason Rivera: So do
students have an opportunity to collaborate across
institutions on service learning projects?>>Nik Sushka: They do. There are a number of
four year institutions that use service
learning this way. Montgomery College right now
most of our service learning is about a semester long. Some of it’s a yearlong
but there are programs that look that way too.>>Jason Rivera: Any other types
of alternative opportunities for service learning that students might
be able to engage in?>>Nik Sushka: Yeah I mean one
that I would really hate not to mention today is one of
President Obama’s initiatives. The Inner Faith and Community
Service Campus Challenge. This is an opportunity
for students actually to take a step back from
their service and engage in meaningful dialogue
with people from different faith backgrounds
so that we can really get at what the reason is for why
we serve and hopefully break down some of the barriers
between different communities who are all trying to
work towards improving our community together. We’ve been a part of that
initiative for two years now and we’ve hosted different
events on campus that really try to get at that meaning
of why we serve.>>Jason Rivera: So how do
students learn about how some of those opportunities because
those are different right the interfaith opportunities
are a little different so how do they learn
about those?>>Nik Sushka: Right the on campus events are just
promoted through college. We try to host them at times that are convenient
for students to come. Classes will bring
entire students to the programs as well. But these opportunities happen
all throughout the year. We have a few newsletters we try
to send out to the students too. I know my newsletter has about
four hundred students on it. So we have a lot of students who are really interested
in serving. Of course we’re always happy
to get the word out more.>>Jason Rivera: And I
guess the great part is that there’s a connection right so that you’re helping
students see the connections between the work that they’re
doing, not only in the classroom but in the community and how that might impact them
personally and professionally.>>Nik Sushka: Yeah absolutely. I just sent a message out
to the faculty that I work with giving them a
handout, talking about how to put service learning
work on your resume and it was just describing why
you don’t even have to put it under a heading,
this is volunteering. If you’re doing a
project for a non-profit and you’re carrying the
heavy load for that work, that’s work experience. So this is important to
students individually, it helps them learn
better in the classroom and then professionally
it can be huge as well.>>Jason Rivera: It sounds
pretty profound and it sounds like another way that Montgomery
college is actually honoring its mission.>>Nik Sushka: Yeah absolutely. I’d like to think that service
learning will only become an ever more important part of
what a student experience looks like here.>>Well, let me thank you for
taking the time to join us today and to share the service
learning experiences. I think it’s really something
that’s going to meaningful to the college wide community
as we encourage other people to get involved in these
service learning initiatives.>>Nik Sushka: Thanks Jason.>>Jason Rivera: Thank you. Reporter Meryl Governski
in on campus where she got a first-hand
look at some of your student volunteers
in action. Meryl.>>Hi Jason I’m here on the
Rockville Campus where a group of Montgomery College students
just finished preparing smart sacks for local elementary
students.>>Wendy Barrios:
Smart Sacks is a way of giving back to the community.>>Catherine Soriano: The food that we receive comes
from Manna Food. We have a volunteer who goes
there and picks up the food, brings it to us and then several
times every two weeks they may go back and get some more food
and we replenish the cabinets.>>DeVaughn Page: We
bag a bunch of food. After we do that we transport
the food to a elementary school.>>And this meal that we
provide them helps them over the weekend. We have a volunteer who
takes it to their school and we never get to see them. We as the volunteers we never
get to meet these children but we’re conscious of the fact
that we are making a difference.>>There’s nothing for me. I love making a difference
in someone else’s life, a positive meaningful
difference. That’s my purpose.>>So when I think of these
children they may not have names but they don’t have
faces you know in my mind but I think you know that
child could have been made, that child could have been my
friend and you know I’m hoping that they do kind of think about
hey who packs my food you know? I do kind of hope
that they realize that we do this because
we do care.>>You know passing them on
the street you wouldn’t realize that they don’t get all
of the food that they need so I’m glad I can help
I guess their quality of life a little bit.>>There have been shortages
of food and it’s saddening because I know that a lot of
people do want to contribute but they don’t know how
and there is a warehouse by shady grove where people
can just drop off their food in the Manna Food warehouse.>>As we speak a student
is delivering these sacks to a local elementary school. Because this group of Montgomery
College students is devoted to enriching the life
of our community, a group of students will have
something to eat this weekend. For campus conversations
I’m Meryl Governski. [ Music ]>>Like us on Facebook. Go to
montgomerycollegetv. [ Music ]>>Matt Walters: An alternate
spring break program here at MC is a program during
spring break where a group of students go out and
do community service or disaster relief
or humanitarian aid. In this case it was habitat for
Humanity at Tuscaloosa Alabama.>>An alternative break
program is meant to kind of bring two things together
to provide students a type of experiential education and
to enable them to get away from the place where
they normally live and to have a hands on
direct service experience but to combine it with some
type of issues education.>>Tranetta Franklin: I think
it was a fantastic opportunity. At first I’d never left home
before, I’d never caught a plane and I loved the school so I
figured you know why not try to do it here and it’s become
the perfect opportunity. They gave me a hard hat
and a hammer the first day and I was like what do I do? So it was my first experience but I definitely know right
now I would love to repeat it and I definitely want to
build houses in the future.>>The highlight of the trip for
me was actually the conversation between one of the
crew chiefs there. They told us stories that were
very, very touching and he said that fifteen people were killed
in that block alone and that’s when I thought to myself that
what I’m doing is actually for those fifteen
people their families and what the families
will do after.>>I had a chance
to meet the family. They were the Beckom’s. They were really amazing
people, hardworking people and they just lost
their house completely when the tornado had
struck through Tuscaloosa.>>With an activity such as the
alternative spring break you put all your ideas in action
outside the classroom and you start learning
your true potential. So it wasn’t the construction but it was actually me learning
how to bond with people.>>You’re together for an
entire week twenty four seven, you’re cooking meals
together, you’re sleeping in a dorm together,
you’re on a job site for you know eight hours a
day, you’re working hard, touring the area and it
just brings people together in a really unique way.>>Originally we were just
like a group of sixteen, eighteen kids on a plane from
different campuses you know from Montgomery College
and then we became friends, we were family and we
really got to recognize some of the hardships and the
tribulation other kids had gone through within the group
and just helped us even more to motivate ourselves
to do the best we could for the house and
for the Beckom’s.>>I think that there’s
nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer and that’s
exactly what these people gave when they went to this
alternative spring break.>>I think it’s just a fantastic
opportunity to interact with your peers and see another
part of the country or the state that you haven’t
necessarily seen. It was pretty extraordinary,
I’m really happy to be a Raptor and I take a bit more pride
in the college because I went.>>Marcus, it sounds like that
was a remarkable experience for those kids.>>Yeah, Matt and Tranetta
sound like great kids and this summer they’re going
to the Jersey shore to help with the cleanup
of what happened after the hurricane
aftermath in Sandy, which is still here’s a lot
of projects to be done there. And again it’s just
meaningful work, it’s heart felt and you can tell that they
really enjoy what they’re doing but this alternative spring
break isn’t just Habitat for Humanity at Montgomery
college and it’s not just spring so there’s all kinds
of different ways that students can get
involved with things like this.>>Sounds pretty
remarkable for our students. What a great opportunity. Today we’ve been highlighting
some of the great ways that our students,
faculty, and staff here at Montgomery College are
serving our community. Where can viewers find out
how they can get involved?>>Well, we have service
learning coordinators at all three of our campuses
and all you have to do is log onto
/servicelearning and you can find their
contact information. And if you want more information about the citizenship
preparation classes, just contact Nancy
Newton at the email or phone number that’s
on your screen.>>And as always you
can send us an email at campus.conversations From all of us here at
Campus Conversations thanks for watching. [ Music ]

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