With graduation on the horizon, Park Scholar seniors reflect on their time at IC
Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Emily Miles, '13
Since the first week of my freshman year, I have volunteered in Ithaca area public schools. And I don’t just mean the occasional reading circle in a kindergarten class, I mean – and here is where I brag – that I have possibly spent more time in schools than I have in class. Now, that may be a slight exaggeration, but between working as a classroom assistant, tutor and organizing media activities, there was nothing I looked forward to more than working with kids.
Every week I piled in a car with fellow Park Scholars and set off to teach kids how to understand media and its role in their lives. Soon enough, we started calling it Media Club and hit the ground running. In my four years of media club, I have coordinated and participated in Media Club, Film Club and Journalism Club at local schools, as well as photography workshops and weekend activities at the Ithaca Youth Bureau – all with the constant support of the Park Scholar program and my fellow scholars.
The Park Scholar program supported my busy lifestyle and allowed me to volunteer as much as possible. While coordinating Media Club, a Park Scholar group service project, I was able to request grant funds for different activities and workshops – anything from markers to a fake green screen. Because of this, our programming was able to expand immensely. By my sophomore year, we began to transition from merely a program that taught kids about different types media, to a program that taught kids how to make different types of media.
But above all, there is nothing I will be more grateful for than the community relationships I have been able to create while here in Ithaca. What was once a “volunteer commitment” became a lifestyle – I was hooked on teaching, and with the help of the Park Scholar program, I was able to stay hooked in the community. My work in media education has woven so perfectly with my personal media endeavors in journalism and radio that I see no need to separate the two; after my time in Ithaca, media and education will always live hand and hand for me.
This spring, I am piloting my first solo media program at a high school outside of the district. I will be spending time with a group of seniors experimenting with digital storytelling as a means for student engagement and self-exploration. Though I know I have an incredibly willing group of Scholars who would help at any time, my work with Media Club has endowed me with the courage and ability to go at it alone – and when it comes to life after college, isn’t that what it’s all about?
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