Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Day of Experiential Learning

The 2010 Experiential Learning Expo
On October 21, I attended the Experiential Learning Expo, held in the Shapiro Campus Center. I talked to two different students who went abroad over the summer. Each had very different enriching and interesting experiences.
Shannon Festin ’12 is a Health: Science, Society and Policy major. For eight weeks over the summer, she interned with Las Damas Voluntaries at El Hospital Nacional de Los Ninos in San Jose, Costa Rica. Shannon found her internship through researching the AIDE website. She ultimately decided she wanted to go to Costa Rica for two reasons: to improve her Spanish skills and, more specifically, to explore why Costa Rica is known as having a health care system that is comparable to that of the United States.
Shannon Festin '12 speaks about her internship at a hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica
She discovered that the reasons had to do with Costa Rica’s greater focus on health and education – not as much money goes to the military as is does in the U.S. From this experience, Festin realized that she wants to work in health care in her future career, particularly with marginalized groups and children. The children who she cared for in the hospital had a range of illnesses, from cancer to burns, as well as children with Down’s syndrome and other complications from birth. Festin decided to intern abroad rather than in the U.S. because she wanted to see another country’s health care system and study how a country’s culture impacts the health of its citizens.   For example, according to Festin, Costa Rica is more “laid-back” than the U.S., as well as more focused on family and religion. It was interesting to her to explore the different ways in which these factors influence the health care system in that nation.
Chia Jorento '11 presents on teaching children English in Siena, Italy
Chia Jorento ’11 is an English and Italian Studies double major. This past spring and summer, she lived in Siena, Italy. She studied abroad in the spring and then stayed on for the summer with Hiatt’s World of Work summer funding program. Jorento found this internship through her study abroad program, which had an internship component. For the summer, she stayed with the same organization she interned with during the spring semester. As someone with a strong interest in education, Jorento had an enriching experience teaching English to 3rd and 4thgraders. She prepared materials, worked with the kids to perform skits and scenes in English, and recorded language videos to help her students learn English. In her Brandeis classes, Jorento still has the opportunity to speak Italian regularly. Through this experience, Jorento had a change in life plans. She now knows that she wants to live abroad after graduation, preferably in Siena. She is passionate about education and hopes to teach long-term.
The Experiential Learning Expo was a great opportunity to see the work that other students have done while abroad. It was interesting to see how these experiences have influenced the career plans of these two presenters. Working abroad gives one the opportunity to be deeply involved in another culture, an experience that Brandeis students should not pass up.

Friday, November 5, 2010

3 Brandeis Students Win Best in Class Conference Grant

Brandeis EL Practicum Students For Soc191a Win Best in Class Conference Grant. The grant, though modest, signifies major ways in which Experiential Learning is gaining force.

Recipients include Caitlin Abber, Hannah katcoff, and Anna Homitsky.

Their project is to create a booklet promoting preventative medicine and health literacy to be used at the Joseph Smith Community Health Center and distributed throughout Waltham more generally.

Congrats Ladies from everyone supporting you in Experiential Learning!

Waltham Recycling Department's Tips or Fall By Sarit Luban

Sarit Luban Class of 2011 is a current Environmental Studies (ENVS89a class with Professor Laura Goldin) intern, and Eileen Zubrowski is the head of the Waltham Recycling Department and her supervisor. Eileen's ENVS interns have been helping to keep the Waltham Recycling Dept in operation for years, since she has little other staff support. Here is an example of great work Brandeis Experiential Learning students are doing- check out this article and tips on recycling.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Creative Ideas for New Story Posts

Here is an artistic new way to demonstrate what you learned in your experiential learning activities and stories. Check out this website called Post Secret and keep the ideas coming!

Jillian Rexford and Empowerment Through Education Experience

Brandeis University has been leading the way when it comes to experiential learning. Offering hundreds of opportunities, there are many ways to fulfill your hands on need in and outside the classroom. Experiential learning includes community-engaged learning (CEL), internships, lab work, theater practicum, research, fieldwork, creative work (visual/performance) and independent study. Over thirty-three departments at Brandeis offer this opportunity.
Many students have already taken advantage of these great chances including sophomore Jillian Kasha Rexford. Jillian took a experiential learning course with Professor Jane Hale her freshman year; as a final project created and wrote a bilingual children’s book in both Haitian Creole and English.
Jillian remarks, “I was able to apply what I learned in class and rather than just reading about the lack of children books in Lesotho and Haiti in the children’s first native languages I was about to meet that need by creating one.”
These hands on applications led to Rexford to apply for a World of Work (WOW) Grant through the Hiatt Career center. Rexford was awarded $3500 towards a social justice unpaid summer internship funded by Mr. Jules Bernstein, class of 1957. With this funding and support Rexford interned with Empowerment through Education Camp (ETE). ETE Camp is a summer camp based in Hinche, Haiti that seeks to empower youth ages 8-12 through an academic summer program in addition to leadership and community building education. Jill’s experience began with trainings in southern Florida with a long-standing youth center at Wildwood recreations. For four weeks, she served as a youth development coordinator and volunteer advisor prior to her departure to Haiti. She continued on to her camp location in Haiti and taught for an additional four weeks on site. Jill was responsible for creating and constructing lesson plans, curriculum, and assessments. Ironically, the ETE Camp was started by then Brandeis student, now alum, Shania Gilbert, through her own expedition with experiential learning.
According to Jill, the possibilities are endless with experiential learning at Brandeis University. There is nothing but will and opportunity.

Check out the video of Education Through Empowerment and see what it is today according to Shaina the founder and director: Education Through Empowerment 2010

Written by Jillian Rexford November 2010.
Photos credited to Jill in Haiti.

Here is Jill leading activities with the ETE Camp kids, who come from mostly impoverished backgrounds and excited to have recreational and education opportunities that people like Jill provide. 

Experiential Learning and Community Engaged Learning STORIES

The Experiential Learning (EL) Team at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts is very excited to publish amazing experiential and community engaged stories on our new ExCEL Brandeis Blog! 

This is a forum for students, faculty, community partners, and blog viewers to share their experiences with the world in how YOU have been impacted by a particular experiential and/or community engaged experience. This can be reflected in any creative medium-- through pictures, short stories, poems, videos, and more! 

Please contact Devon Davey, the Experiential Learning Graduate Assistant to post for you or if you have any questions, at

We look forward to your participation and Happy Reading! 
Check out the EL website at:

Experiential Learning Office
Mandel Humanities Center 1st Floor, 127  |  415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453  |  (781) 736-2697