Community Engagement at Milton: Revamped and Recharged
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 30th, 2016
On August 25, 2016, the formerly named “Community Service” Board announced a revision of its policy and title. Now officially recognized as the Community Engagement Programs and Partnerships (CEPP), the program is straying away from the traditional “giving back” approach and gearing towards one that may change Milton’s perspective on community service.
The reorganizing process began last spring when the Community Service Board sent a survey to all Milton students, faculty, parents, and alumni. This survey asked the Milton community to reflect on how their service personally affected them and to discuss what aspects of the program were most important. The goal of the survey was to “align the program more closely with Milton’s strategic priorities” as described in the announcement email in August. Using the suggestions and comments from the Milton community, the Community Service Board began altering the common belief of service.
This year, the CEPP is encouraging an enhanced service, one that encourages a “two-way relationship” between the students and the other members in the service community. In other words, the hope is that students, when taking part in service, will engage more with the community that is around them.
Ms. Geyling-Moore, the head of the CEPP, says “We want students to be conscious about what they’re doing, to question, ‘What am I doing here?’ and ‘Why am I doing this?’” This way, students will not only build strong relationships with the people they are working with, but also learn morals that classrooms don’t always teach. Additionally, the CEPP hopes to encourage students to delve into difficult areas of conversation such as social justice and wealth inequality.
Now operating under the “structural umbrella” of the Office of Multiculturalism and Community, the CEPP follows a new model that asserts the wide spectrum of different cultures and identities. This new method not only strengthens relationships, but also helps volunteers understand the types of backgrounds other people come from. Often times, students get caught up in the “Milton bubble” and tend to not recognize all that’s going on outside of their community. Since one of the goals of the CEPP is to help broaden a student’s understanding of all the different communities and heritages outside of his own, the CEPP now offers more enhanced training to all its volunteers. This training includes an explanation of all the different backgrounds of the community and the real world. Additionally, service givers are taught how to engage with people of differing backgrounds and how to generally enrich the service experience.
Because of the transition, the CEPP board has become even more integral to this year’s success. Board members now play an active role in training volunteers, a role that has not been a major focus in recent years. The hope is that students engaged in service will periodically check in with board members to reflect on their progress. This way board members have, according to Ms. Geyling-Moore, “more leadership opportunities.”
On a superficial level, this change was nothing more than a change of name. In reality, however, it was a reshaping of every aspect of the program. Community engagement is no longer just a weekly commitment. Now, it is an activity geared towards gaining a better understanding of the numerous communities around us. While the Community Engagement Programs and Partnership may seem like just one of the thousands of opportunities offered by Milton, the new structure of this program extends far beyond the Milton campus, reaching communities across the world.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8292