Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four VISTAs attend CSNAP Conference

On November 2-3, four NC Campus Compact VISTAs attended the 2012 CSNAP Conference at UNC Wilmington. Sponsored by the Compact, every fall CSNAP (Citizenship, Service, Networking, And Partnerships) brings student leaders from campuses across the state together to learn and share strategies to address community issues. This year's event focused on the theme "Becoming Citizens, Becoming Community," and featured Paul Loeb, author of Soul of A Citizen, as keynote speaker. Nearly 125 students from 18 campuses attended.

Our VISTAs were on hand to lead discussion sessions, share ideas for community engagement, and support the learning of student leaders. Two of our VISTAs led open-space discussions. Lenoir-Rhyne VISTA Ariel Mitchell led a conversation centered around culture and cultural barriers within communities. She connected her work with the Latino community and key community partner, Centro Latino of Hickory, to the greater challenges of working in culturally diverse communities.  UNC Greensboro VISTA Anya Piotrowski facilitated a discussion about community gardening. Anya shared information and expertise she's gained from her project starting a community garden at a local homeless shelter.

Jacqui Trillo, Warren Wilson College VISTA, coached several students who delivered a workshop helping service participants connect their service to deeper community engagement. She also attended a session on building strong partnerships between institutions and their surrounding communities. Jacqui noted how excited students were between sessions, enthusiastically discussing ways to apply what they learned to their own institutions and communities. She believes conversations like these can help build a bridge between students and their communities.

NCSU VISTA Brianna Roach concluded the conference with a powerful recitation of her original poem, "The Elephant in the Room." Students who live-tweeted the event said they left the conference feeling inspired and motivated.

On Friday evening at the conference kick-off, Anya joined other conference participants for a tour of the Wilmington-based film studio, EUE/Screen Gems. The group heard from the head of the Wilmington Film Commission about his work bringing projects to the area, toured the facilities, and spotted Robert Downey, Jr. working on set!