Christopher Koliba has collaborated with University of Vermont faculty and staff, local community members, and Americorps*VISTA to establish a new program, Academic Learning Integrated with Volunteer Experience (ALIVE). The Dewey Project staff is working to create this new partnership between the University of Vermont and AmeriCorps*VISTA. ALIVE is designed to utilize the resources at the University of Vermont to support the civic and professional development of VISTA volunteers. Through the ALIVE Program, VISTA members will be afforded opportunities to reflect on their experiences in a structured way. University of Vermont faculty and VISTA members will link professional and/or liberal arts and sciences to their work in Vermont communities.
The hope for ALIVE is that it will ensure that the rich experience of an AmeriCorps*VISTA service period transforms individuals and communities. With structured and mentored study in ALIVE, volunteer scholars can expect to develop their career and learning paths, and mature in their understanding of how to effect change throughout their personal and community life.
Cohorts of 8-15 volunteer scholars will meet two to three times over the course of their year of service in “residency weekends.” Based on adult learning models, the residency weekends will involve workshops and time to meet with ALIVE review committees. It is anticipated that participation in the ALIVE program will enhance the overall quality of the VISTA service experience by granting the opportunity to engage in active reflection and collaboration.
This October the first cohort of eight volunteer scholars attended the weekend residency. The scholars will be studying with advisors from Education, Public Administration, Social Work and Psychology. Recruitment for the second cohort has begun, as well as continued refinement of the application and scholarship application process. A committee will work to integrate programs within disciplines to further insure sustainability at the university. Another group will work to establish a protocol for the community advisors. In addition, several other universities have contacted the ALIVE program in hopes of replicating the model. We will be assisting them in any way we can with their endeavor.
In May of 2000, JDPPE staff members Kathleen Kesson and Kate Paxton, along with Advisory Board member David Conrad, accompanied other University of Vermont faculty and staff to Cuba, where they established relations with the Social Science Latin American Faculty (FLACSO) of the Universidad de la Habana. One purpose of the trip was to create opportunities for educational exchanges and collaborative research opportunities.
This June, Gustavo Teran presented a paper on “Grassroots Coalitions for Radical Democracy in Oaxaca Mexico” at a symposium sponsored by FLACSO at the Universidad de la Habana, Cuba. Gustavo Teran also worked with Professor Lino Barroto of FLACSO on the design of a three credit university course, “Education and Community in Cuban Society.” The course will be sponsored by FLACSO and the John Dewey Project and will take place in the Summer of 2002.
Gustavo Teran also visited a number of community centers in the capital city of Havana with staff of a non-profit Community Development Organization know as “El Grupo.” El Grupo promotes and facilitates community participation in neighborhood development projects and provides technical assistance and training in such areas as community needs assessment, project planning, implementation and evaluation. In addition, Teran accompanied UVM students in Professors Lynn Bond’s and Hector Saez’s courses to field visits in Havana and in the surrounding areas.
In November, Elena Diaz, a professor from Universidad de la Habana visited the University of Vermont to present a series of talks on Cuban society.
In October, Gustavo Teran traveled to Peru to participate in a seminar and workshop on “Decolonizing Education”. Teran will be working with the Peruvian non-profit organization, Proyecto Andino de Teconologias Campesinas (PRATEC), to develop a field-based course in Peru on The Culture of the Andes and Upper Amazon and Community-based Education. This will be offered as a credit course for UVM students and as a non-credit cultural learning experience for community members. Also, Teran and PRATEC staff are exploring opportunities for developing youth exchange programs.