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.
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!