MLK Day of Engagement 2019

You can make a difference.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Martin Luther King Jr.

January 21, MLK Day of Engagement

In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National holiday, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and Office of Sustainability are sponsoring the 9th annual Day of Engagement for the Class of 2022 and other Citizen Science students.

The MLK Day of Engagement introduces students to the local community and challenges them to deepen their local roots and commit to action in 2019.


Adopt a Goal for 2019

In honor of MLK’s legacy and his call to action to address the urgent questions we face, each site will be connected with one or more of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Adopt a goal and commit to action in 2019.

How can I make an impact?  Join a TLS project, launch a TLS project of your own, volunteer more regularly, take an Engaged Liberal Arts and Science course, attend trainings, commit to sustainable life hacks or engage politically.

How many sites are available?  CCE partners with sites all over the Hudson Valley. Students will be able to select from about 25 sites including a mini-conference focused on community action.

How do I sign up?  Look for social media posts announcing the 2019 program in the New Year.  Email signups will begin about a week prior to the arrival for Citizen Science.  Sign up in person at check-in on January 11 and 12.

What about leadership training?  Students interested in broadening their skill sets will have the opportunity to attend a mini-conference on the Day of Engagement. Learn how to identify fake news, write a TED talk, deepen your commitment to sustainability, or develop your culinary skills to make food for local pantries.

How do I get involved after MLK Day?  Consider your potential for long-term impact. The MLK Day of Engagement challenges you to identify the way that you can make a regular commitment in 2019.

Engage at Bard with Social Media

Sign up on the Civic Engagement Registry to receive alerts!

More Ways to Engage at Bard

Direct Action and Leadership Development: TLS, one-off volunteering, clothing/food drives, STEAM Explorers, Debate engagement programs, Model UN engagement programs, international conferences, Bard Leads, Bard Athletics, Council for Inclusive Excellence, BardWorks, Brothers at Bard, Student Government.

Community Organizing and Activism: the Dissonance (media coverage of local activism), ELAS courses, trainings, protest, letter writing, phone banking, Hannah Arendt Center.

Politics and Policy: Get Out The Vote, Election@Bard, voter registration, internships with government, Community Action Award funding, Bard Globalization International Affairs.

Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences and Engaged Scholarship: ELAS courses, Study Away, and Network Courses.

Get Started with the Community Fair

Sign Up for Day of Engagement Events

Click on event titles to register.

SATURDAY, January 19

eWaste Recycling (10)UN Sustainable Development Goal #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Tivoli and the Town & Village of Red Hook, together with the Red Hook Conservation Advisory Council and Bard Office of Sustainability, are hosting an electronic waste collection day for residents. Help move large TVs, stereos, computer towers and other e-waste onto pallets at the Town of Red Hook Recycle Yard. This is an outdoor event that requires appropriate cold weather clothing and footwear. Gloves and hot chocolate will be provided, along with deep appreciation.

No Sew T-Shirt Reusable Bags (10) — UN Development Sustainable Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production

On Monday, December 3, 2018, Dutchess County legislators voted to pass a plastic bag ban in our local communities. Come to this workshop and learn how to make reusable bags out of your old T-shirts so that next time you drop by your local convenience store, you’re prepared! Make one for yourself, a loved one, or a community member!

Newburgh Armory Unity Center (10) — UN Development Sustainable Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Students will assist with Saturday Morning Youth Enrichment Programs, as they see fit. There are roughly 30 different programs for youths to choose from. There is drama, computer programming, mathematics, engineering, gardening, nursing, a NYS championship winning chess program, soccer, basketball, reading, chemistry, flight simulation, music, public speaking, and much more.

MONDAY, January 21

Off-Campus Engagement Events


Red Hook Community Center (For all events below)

(10:30am – 3:00pm) (30 – 36 Volunteers)

CommUNITY Fair — Beyond Recycling: Repair, Re-Use, Rethink and Commit to Community
Help mix sustainability, crafts, cooking, science (for kids and adults), community engagement, and a lot of fun. Over 30 Bardians will join local families to make 2019 about community action.

Check-In/Making a Pledge (2) — ALL UN Sustainable Development Goals

Orient participants to the wide range of activities available to them and encourage families to make a commitment to one of the UN Sustainability Goals in 2019.

Repair Cafe Sign In (2) — UN Development Sustainable Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Help direct participants sign-in and direct them to the Repair Cafe.

Repair Cafe and Bike Co-op (10) UN Development Sustainable Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production and #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Support local professionals who are volunteering their expertise to fix household items, give new life to that old lamp, pair of jeans, or update that computer.

Childcare Room and Our Friend Martin (3) UN Development Sustainable Goal #4: Quality Education

Play with kids while families visit the Repair Cafe or screen the documentary Our Friend Martin.

Help Local Organizations Table for Support and Volunteers (2) UN Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Local organizations offering a wide range of community support will provide information about services and volunteer opportunities.  Help support volunteers while learning more about ways to make a difference.

Organizations include: Team Nora, Historic Red Hook, Red Hook Education Foundation, Ascienzo Foundation, local nursing homes, Red Hook Rotary, Red Hook Conservation Advisory Council, and PandaTV.

Tabling with Green Organizations (Weatherization) (1) UN Sustainable Development Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Help local families learn how to weatherize their homes and discover the life hacks that can help families save money and live more sustainably.

Make Reusable T-Shirt Bags (3) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #5: Sustainable Consumption and Production

Dutchess and Ulster County have passed a plastic bag ban. Join the effort to reuse items to make reusable bags to be donated to local families.

Maker Space (3) UN Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Work on your carpentry skills with local families making bat boxes and bug houses for backyards all over Red Hook.

STEM Demo Table (4) UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

Demonstrate scientific principles with the help of a little kitchen science.

Culinary Delights and Community Donations (4) UN Sustainable Development Goal #1: No Poverty

Take donations (hygiene products and non-perishable food items for local food pantries) and cook up goodies for participants.


Sloop Clearwater (10)UN Sustainable Development Goal #14 Life Below Water

The organization has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as a champion of the Hudson River, working to pass landmark legislation, educate the public, and celebrate the river habitat. Join the crew for a day of maintenance on the iconic boat, the Sloop Clearwater!

Ulster 4-H STEM-themed Escape Room (10) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

Help facilitate a unique way to do STEM outreach with a themed escape room. Participants include local youths from the Ulster 4-H Club and the Brothers at Bard mentorship program.

Family of Woodstock (5)UN Sustainable Development Goal #13: Good Health and Well-Being

Family of Woodstock provides confidential and fully accessible crisis intervention, information, prevention, and support services to address the needs of individuals and families. Support this agency by engaging in a variety of tasks during our MLK Day of Engagement. Participants will interview staff members and help the agency formulate a video to be used by the organization. Additionally, participants may be asked to do some extra organizing and painting of the office building.

African Roots Library (5) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #10 Reduced Inequalities

The Library at the A.J. Williams-Myers African Roots Center promote literacy through teaching and learning about the African roots experience, including history and culture, through a dynamic exchange of information, ideas, and creativity. Attend a Youth Presentation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, followed by a chance to canvas with the organization.


Ramapo for Children (10) UN Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well Being

Students will help facilitate a dance workshop with Ramapo’s on-site young adults (all of whom have learning differences, ADHD, or autism) as well as create different art projects using items from the Bard College Free Store.

Tivoli Village Hall (8) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

Local kids of Tivoli and surrounding towns are invited to participate in a day of eco-conscious activities!  We will be doing STEM experiments and making no-sew reusable t-shirt bags! Bring an old t-shirt and take it home as a souvenir bag!

Tomorrow, Tomorrow Animal Sanctuary (10) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Miss being around animals? Wish you could make a new fluffy friend? Enjoy a day of volunteering at this animal sanctuary. Meet, feed, and groom the animals, but be sure to bundle up, and wear clothes that are appropriate for a farm animal environment.

Red Hook United Methodist Church Food Pantry (10) — UN Sustainable Development Goal #2 Zero Hunger

Interested in helping the local families of Red Hook have access to food? Learn about food insecurity in the Hudson Valley, help the Red Hook Food Pantry get organized post-holiday season, and more!

On-Campus Engagement Events

Mini-Conference: Commit to Action

In honor of MLK’s legacy, Commit to Action—the mini-conference led by local organizers—will challenge participants to learn how to make an impact in their community.


11:30 am – 12:00 pm:  Olin Auditorium, Check-in

12:00 pm:  Commit to Action launches with a panel of local leaders in a conversation that connects their personal stories with their civic action.

1:00 – 3:30 pm:  Participants choose one of 15 interactive workshops that will prepare students to commit to action in 2019.


Bard Debate Union (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #6: Clean Water and Sanitation 

Facilitators: Bard Debate Union

Interested in learning more about the debate team at Bard? Join codirectors of the Bard Debate Union Ruth Zisman and David Register, along with current members of the team, for a workshop on debate and civic engagement. We will give a brief overview of the Bard Debate Union—our various activities and opportunities—highlighting the ways in which debate and public discourse are crucial tools for engaging with our communities. Then we will run an exciting hands-on debate exercise in which everyone can participate! All are welcome!

Notice and Comment Workshop (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality 

Facilitators: Bard College Office for Gender Equity

The “Notice-and-Comment Workshop” looks into how proposed Title IX guidelines, set forth by Betsy DeVos, could impact college campuses while encouraging students to voice their opinions on these drastic changes. Students will engage with these proposed policies by submitting their own comments and critiques to the Department of Education, which must then respond to public input when attempting to pass these regulations. In this workshop, the Office for Gender Equity provides students with tools that will allow them to engage with and help improve these influential guidelines. No previous knowledge of this proposed legislation is necessary.

Know Your Rights (15):

UN Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities 

Facilitators: Student leaders from the Bard Immigration Coalition

This training by Bard Immigration Coalition will inform both documented and undocumented, of their rights when interacting with both immigration officers and police. The training covers the right to remain silent, the right to speak to an attorney, the right for proof of a warrant before a home raid, and the right for undocumented individuals not to hand over documents that prove their status. It also suggests best practices by immigrant individuals when they are stopped by police, state troopers, Customs and Border Patrol agents, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Fake News, Pseudoscience & You (15):

UN Sustainable Development Goal #16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions 

Facilitators: Jeremy Hall , Digital Technologies Development, Yauch House Librarian and Alexa Murphy, Resource Sharing, McWilliams House Librarian

Stevenson Library (First floor)

Learn how false information is threatening our democracy and our planet, and what you can do about it. False and misleading information—in all its forms—is having profound effects on democracy and policy around the world. In this interactive workshop, we will explore how information, misinformation, and disinformation are disseminated and consumed, how this affects civic life, and what role we play in these dynamics as digital citizens. Through a series of hands-on activities and discussions, students will learn how to identify bias, confirm facts, and spot fake news. We will also consider actions we can take to stop the spread of false information and its effects.

Creating a Nonprofit as a College Student: What Happens Along the Way (12)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #9: Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure 

Facilitators: New York Historic Sites Alliance, Inc.

Join the New York Historic Sites Alliance in a interactive workshop on ways to become civically engaged within your community. This workshop will provide participants with foundational tools to further the goal of making a change seem attainable by anyone, rather than some lofty ideal attainable by one in a million.

Pushback: Exploring Political and Social Action (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Facilitator: André Santana ‘17, Fellow in the Center for Inclusive Excellence

This discussion around activism, institutions and organizations, performativity, and impact measurement, will help participants rethink how they relate to social change.  Our relationships to society and social change can be unclear and hard to quantify. What are the avenues for change? How much do we want to contribute? How do we stay genuine and assess our intentions with our work? These questions shouldn’t just be pursued by people interested in activism, but by any person who wants to fully grasp their agency in relation to the social climate.  The workshop will deal with topics of importance within and around Bard College, wrapping up with a reflection about how these issues relate to the community on campus, and what responsibility students have to engage in the ongoing work around them.

Teaching Kitchen (Kline College Room and President’s Room) (20)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger

Facilitators: Supervisor of Food and Ag programs Katrina Light and Food Service Director for local school districts Larry Anthony

The Teaching Kitchen helps participants hone their cooking skills while considering the impact of their food choices on their health and the community.  Participants will enjoy good food while contributing to a local food pantry.

Literacy for Adolescents: Tutoring as Social Change

UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

Facilitator: Assistant Dean of Students Timand Bates ‘02

Interested in tutoring children and teens in the community?  Timand’s experience as a writing major at Bard has influenced his understanding of the connection between democracy and education. Beginning his career as a literacy tutor he moved to teaching in the NYC public school system before becoming a dean at Bard. Skilled at working with students of all levels, from Bard MAT students to first graders, Timand will expose participants to some practical tutoring skills while exploring education as social change. All levels of experience welcome from novice to trained tutor.

I Am Not a Leader (15):

UN Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Facilitator: Dean of Students Bethany Nohlgren and Assistant Dean of Students Alexis Lopez

Hate the word leadership? Don’t really know how you can make a difference or even understand what making a difference means? In this interactive workshop, participants can work through a series of exercises to give voice to what they care about and how they can contribute. Community starts at home and action is possible.

Getting to Climate Drawdown: The Campus as Learning Lab (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action

Facilitator: Laurie Husted, Chief Sustainability Officer, Bard Office of Sustainability, and a team from Sustainable Hudson Valley

This interactive session will introduce learners of all ages to the climate crisis and the emergence of a “solutions culture”, and help them to identify their own options for leadership. Project Drawdown, with its rigorously modeled set of 100 most promising climate solutions, will provide a window into opportunities for reducing our footprint and strengthening a movement.”

Listening for Change: Speech and Listening as Social Action (20):

UN Sustainable Development Goal #16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

Facilitator: Dean for Social Action Paul Marienthal

Are you “listening” to the needs of your community? How do you know?  Leadership requires a deep commitment to listening. In the TLS program, we assert that real listening is not metaphorical, that it is a complex and fundamental skill that requires practice. It begins with the ability to hear others precisely. We train TLS students to “replay” verbatim the words and phrases of a partner. We then move on to paraphrasing and reflecting meaning back to those partners. This is the basic communications skill that lets people around us know that they have really been heard.

Better Angels: Working Across the Aisle (15)

UN Sustainable Development goal #16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions

Facilitator: Riley Hart, New York State Coordinator, Better Angels and Frank Murtaugh, Volunteer, Better Angels

Better Angels is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. Facilitators will lead students through a workshop using discussion practices that help participants find common ground even with those with whom they may disagree. In this workshop, participants will learn skills for having respectful conversations with people whose political beliefs differ from theirs—clarifying differences, searching for common ground, and affirming the importance of the relationship. Participants will practice the skills with someone of the same general political persuasion, and will take turns role-playing as someone on the opposite “side.”

Transformative Art (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #16 Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Facilitator: Greer Smith, President, TransArt

Why me? Why now?

“When privilege is your norm…Equality feels like oppression”

This saying has evolved over the years and become popular via the social media pundits of the day. When venturing into the community to do ‘good work’ what values, assumptions, and perceptions do we take with us? What is community? What does the community look like? Who is the community?

This workshop will help you answer these questions. And begin to the change the narrative and approach to personal philanthropic efforts, examine why we do good work and develop a positive lens to view those we choose to help.

Our Legacy: Collegiate Men of Color Creating Their Own Path (15)

UN Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Before MLK Jr. was a national icon, he was just another brother on campus doing big things. The ways he was civically engaged as a collegiate man of color created change both on and off campus. Cofounders of Brothers at Bard, Dariel Vasquez  ’17 and Harry Johnson ’17, lead an interactive workshop focused on exploring the role of college-aged men of color in “civic engagement.” The workshop will be centered around the question “What does it mean to you to be included as a man of color at a civically-minded institution?

UN Sustainable Development Goal #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. This workshop will shift your view of nature, from a source of stuff to a source of ideas. We will examine several bio-inspired products currently available on the market and participate in a design challenge framed around the question, how would nature solve that?

Meet the Panelists:

Matt Martini

Matthew Martini comes from a long history of union members in the family including his great grandfather, Andrew Gallante, his grandfather, Andrew T. Gallante, his uncle, Andrew T. Gallante Jr. was in BAC Local 5 from 1979 until 1997, leaving as a Business Agent to work for Verizon, his mother, Maria Martini, and his father, Richard Martini. In addition, most of Matt’s brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins are in different labor unions throughout the United States.

Throughout Matt’s education he was spending time at different union halls doing homework, listening to union activists discuss the issues of the day and participating in political campaigns for local candidates. Even in High School when the teachers were doing informational picketing Matt was standing on the line with them before he had to go to class. When it came time to go to work Matt knew he needed a union job, so he enrolled in the BAC Local 5 apprenticeship program in 2010. It was also around this time that Matt met Elizabeth Soto, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (HVALF). While Matt wasn’t working Elizabeth enlisted him to help the HVALF on their political program. Helping union endorsed candidates run and win local office. It was at the HVALF where Matt learned how to work alongside with all the labor unions in the Hudson Valley and get results for middle class working families.

Matt worked for NYS Senator Terry Gipson as the scheduler/aide to the senator. He was able to work with an amazing team in the Senator’s office solving constituent issues, drafting legislation and building relationships with constituent groups. One piece of legislation Matt worked on was the ability to allow facility/service dogs in the courtroom to help children testify in court “Rosie’s Law”. While Rosie’s Law did not make it to the floor for a vote the team was able to secure funding for the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Town of Hyde Park for Sewer Infrastructure and the District Council 9 Painters Training Center.

After serving a year in the NYS Senate the HVALF had an open position for the Deputy Director and Matt leapt at the chance to go back into the labor movement. In April 2014 Matt started working full time as the Deputy Director at the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation until April 2016.

Matt also helped re-launch the Dutchess County Young Democrats, serving as the President for one year.

Matt currently serves as the Northern Hudson Valley Regional Representative for the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. He represent Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Delaware, Greene and Columbia counties for the office.

Matt strongly believes in what Robert Kennedy said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

County Legislator, Rev. Giancarlo Llaverias  

Giancarlo “Doc” Llaverias is a Poughkeepsie, NY native by way of Mount Vernon, NY. Giancarlo has been a resident of Poughkeepsie since the age of 10. At 19, while in college at Stony Brook University, Giancarlo was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and his body rejecting all food resulting in a 150lbs weight loss in 3 months. This diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. His illness brought him home to Poughkeepsie, and his eyes were opened to the violence and issues plaguing Poughkeepsie when he lost 30 of his friends to drugs and violence. At age 20, Giancarlo regained his ability to walk and began volunteer work within the community including teaching youth professional development skills and becoming a youth minister.

In 2013 Giancarlo launched a grassroots organization called Peace to Progress. The objective of this program was to help youth find after school resources that Dutchess County could not provide. Giancarlo has mentored and has spoken to over 400 young people and have helped them find jobs, go to college, and reduce the risk of gang membership. To date Giancarlo has help fund the tuition of 100 students helping them buy books, supplies, and other scholastic essentials. Giancarlo also launched a social media program called “ Diamond Minds” in 2016 and this program is to support youth going through mental illness and anxiety. The purpose of this program was to use social media as an outlet to connect students and adults alike to share their experiences and find healthy solutions.

Giancarlo graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor’s in organizational communication with a background in psychology concentrating in Africana and Latino history. Currently, he is pursuing his Doctorate degree while obtaining his professional certificate in education at Harvard University. In November of 2017, Giancarlo was elected to the Dutchess County Legislature and became the first person of color in the 50-year history of the legislature to ever hold the District 1 seat. Giancarlo also serves as the Regional Vice President of the Hudson Valley for the New York State Young Democrats and also serves as Director of Outreach for the New York State Young Democrats Caucus of Color.

Leslie Tracey

Leslie Tracey is a financial professional who specializes in estate planning and workplace benefits at New York Life. She also serves as the Organist and Music Director at Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church. Leslie is the co-founder of the newly formed Hudson Valley African-American Business Council which is a chamber of commerce for minority business owners and professionals throughout the Hudson Valley. She is an alumna of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. A resident of Dutchess County for the past 5 years, Leslie is deeply involved in the causes she believes in and serves the community through financial education seminars for adults and teenagers, individual teen mentorship and volunteerism through the United Way of Dutchess County, the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie and her local church. She is a 2018 recipient of the Dutchess Chamber of Commerce top 40 under 40.

Sarah Salem
They/Them Pronouns
Director of Development, Dutchess Outreach
Councilmember, City of Poughkeepsie Common Council

Sarah Salem is a systems thinker with a passion for equitable, regenerative, and participatory development, and discovering solutions that benefit and contribute to making communities whole. Growing up in the Hudson Valley, Sarah has developed a strong affinity to making the City of Poughkeepsie and the Greater Hudson Valley a more desirable place to live, work, and play, now and for years to come.

In asking questions like where does our work actually extend? How can we coordinate our efforts with others in our community? In what ways can we more effectively engage with our networks of support? Sarah has expanded the reach of mission-driven organizations, like Dutchess Outreach, and has helped to stimulate important investigative practices within their community. Above all else, they have encouraged collaboration amongst other like-minded organizations and individuals across all sectors, enhanced through their involvement in local leadership cohorts such as the Good Work Institute Fellowship and the Pattern for Progress Fellowship programs.

In their role as a member of the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council, they look forward to further advancing their work and the vitality of the Hudson Valley by promoting local policy with equity, inclusivity, and justice in mind.

Moderator Cammie Jones:

Cammie Jones has dedicated her life towards civic engagement both professionally and personally and believes in the saying that “service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”

Cammie Jones is the Assistant Dean for the Center of Civic Engagement at Bard College where she works closely on several international and domestic civic engagement network projects including the Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences Program  and Network Courses. Cammie is active on several community boards and committees within Dutchess County. She serves as Board Member of the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, Chair of the Hudson Valley KidVenture Creative Committee, United Way of Dutchess-Orange Peer Grant Reviewer, Secretary of Dutchess County Young Dems, Hyde Park Democratic Committee member, Dutchess County Democratic Committee member,  member of the Catharine Street Community Center MLK Scholarship Committee, and International Women’s Day Committee member through the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, she serves as an Upper Elementary Sunday School Teacher at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church of Wappingers, Falls, NY.

Cammie has received several awards for her work in higher education and community engagement which include the Dutchess County Regional Chamber Of Commerce’s 2012 Forty Under 40 Class, N4A 2014 Professional Promise Award for Region 1, the AWCC 2017 Forty Under 40 Class and The 2017 ARC of Dutchess Peggy Martinko Community Trailblazer Award.

Cammie Jones holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Louisiana State University A&M.

Bard College Statement on Its Relationship with the Central European University

To Whom It May Concern:

A number of erroneous claims have been made about the academic activities of the Central European University (CEU) in the U.S. and the relationship between CEU and Bard College. I write the below to offer clarity.

CEU runs a joint program with Bard College, an Advanced Certificate Program in Inequality Analysis, accredited by the New York State Education Department. The program is offered on the Bard campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where CEU and Bard faculty teach. Students in the program must spend time in both New York and Budapest and study with Bard and CEU faculty.

The program already has one graduate and 12 students are currently enrolled. A group of 10–12 students, who are simultaneously enrolled in the Advanced Certificate Program and the Bard College/Levy Economics Institute MS Program in Economic Theory and Policy, will study at CEU this winter/spring.

CEU has a dedicated building on Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus, with facilities for teaching, distance learning, and research; and offices for faculty, researchers, and administrators. In addition, CEU has access to all other Bard facilities on this campus, as set out in the memorandum of understanding between the two institutions. The program is taught by CEU and Bard faculty members. In addition, CEU sends fellows to conduct research projects at Bard. During the time of their projects, CEU research fellows are located at Bard and use the dedicated space in CEU’s building on the campus.

In addition, CEU runs an MA program in International Relations in New York City, also accredited by the New York State Education Department and specifically authorized to be taught in New York premises rented by CEU. The program includes internships with prestigious international organizations in New York, which are facilitated by the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program. CEU hires faculty, who are located in New York City, to teach in this program. The program will host nearly 20 CEU students this academic year.

Bard College has assisted CEU in its efforts to deliver academic programs in the United States. The CEU-Bard relationship extends back two decades, and the institutions have cooperated in a number of activities over this time. Bard College is a 158-year-old institution, a leading American liberal arts college which was described by Best College Reviews as having one of the “most beautiful college campuses in America,” is constantly identified by Princeton Review at the top for “best classroom experience,” has been ranked by US News and World Report as America’s “most innovative” liberal arts college, and is ranked 15th nationwide by Forbes for “top return on investment.”

The College has a long history with Hungary. Fresh from the Hungarian Revolution, 300 student refugees arrived at Bard in December 1956, during the College’s Winter Field Period. Bard welcomed them to our Annandale campus and provided them with orientation and English language instruction. They used the time to learn, teach, organize, and begin to adapt to what, for many, would become their new country. In 2007, Bard held an international conference commemorating the 1956 arrival of the Hungarian freedom fighters to the College and reunited many of the original participants, honoring their contributions to this country. Dozens of Hungarian students have studied at Bard, many in the College’s internationally renowned Conservatory of Music.

CEU clearly fulfills the requirements of Hungarian educational law. To suggest that there is no program between CEU and Bard, or that CEU does not offer academic programs in New York, is simply absurd and ignores easily confirmed facts.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Becker
Director of U.S. Programs for CEU
Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bard College


Central European University students studying in New York City as a part of their MA in International Affairs with CEU Dean of Students Chrys Margaritidis, CEU Director of Community Engagement Emese Boldizsar, and CEU Prof. Ben Schrader (who is in residence in New York this semester).
Hungarian officials visiting CEU premises on Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson Campus.
Andrea Weber holds an an economics seminar on discrimination Tuesday February 27, 2018, at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. Photo by Karl Rabe.


You Voted. Election@Bard Was There To Help.

The weather was dreary, but Election@Bard was out in force to help Bard students make their voices heard. Center for Civic Engagement Director Jonathan Becker was a poll watcher at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Barrytown, Bard College’s local polling station. Below are the unofficial results from the Barrytown site.

For a wider view of election results in the Hudson Valley, click here.



Cuomo (D)       608

Molinaro R       80

Hawkins (G)      28



Di Napoli (D)    648

Trichter     R          50

Dunlea (G)        14


Attorney General

James (D)          647

Wofford R       51

Sussman (G)      13



Gillibrand (D)   663

Farley R               53



Delgado (D)      661

Faso R              55

Greenfeld (G)   4


State Senate

Smyth (D)         656

Serino R           61



Family Court

Martin (D)         636

Hagstrom R       73


Surrogate Court

Mansfield (D)    642

Hayes R              69

Community Action Award Recipients 2018

CCE Community Action Award recipients receive financial support to engage with communities in unpaid or underpaid internships in communities at home and across the globe. Read about three award recipients and their experiences this summer.

My name is Chase Williams and I’m a rising senior at Bard. I’ve always imagined experiencing the life of a lawyer or judge. I enjoy the way in which the law looks at a new case and works to instill consistent protocols in all circumstances.  This summer I was an intern at the Oklahoma City Federal Western District Court under the Honorable Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell. As part of the internship, I spent hours attending public trials, reading through appellate briefings, and coordinating legal functions and gatherings. I also attended a banquet about the Royal v. Murphy trial, where questions of jurisdiction and land ownership submerged Oklahomans and Native Americans in a legal feud. My internship culminated with attendance at a naturalization ceremony where members of many nationalities came together to become legally recognized citizens of the United States of America.

My name is Nadia Russell and I am a rising junior studying biology and global public health. I interned at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, where I served as a field coordinator for a project called MapsCorps that maps underserved neighborhoods. The value of mapping community assets is to connect them to community health. I must say it has been an amazing, yet very challenging, experience. My expectations were really high, which was probably a dangerous position from which to begin. Non-profits, after all, often are overworked and understaffed and I had to adapt my expectations and goals in order to be at peace with my work. Working with the high schoolers I mentored was truly amazing. I had a team of four, and they were all 16 and going into their junior year of high school. Our dynamic was awesome and I was really lucky to be partnered with the students.

I was especially proud of the mini “research project” that our mappers did. We focused on knowledge of HIV prevention and care among black and Latinx women in the South Bronx. We dedicated one work day to surveying South Bronx residents about their knowledge of PrEP (a pill that can be taken to stay HIV negative even despite potential exposures) and PEP (a pill that can be taken up to 36 hours after an exposure to drastically reduce the chances of contracting HIV). As college students, we were well aware that our results were not likely to be statistically significant, but as my public health professor at Bard, Helen Epstein taught me, obsession with statistical significance when you can see a phenomenon right in front of your eyes is a big obstacle to getting things done in the public health field.

By and large, this internship taught me patience, and that progress is incremental. Having big goals is important, getting frustrated is normal, and progress isn’t always linear or easily visible. In some ways the work I did feels like a tiny drop in the bucket. In other ways, I feel as though I positively impacted the lives of teenagers, exposed many teenagers to the concepts of public health and how community assets impact the health of its residents, did a small but important bit of advocacy, and met a lot of fantastic people. This internship also exposed me to many of the challenges that the public health field faces. Ultimately I have been made a better, more informed person for participating in this project, and I look forward to exploring more ways in which I can incorporate public health into my career.

Dylan Ahunhodjaev ‘20, spent the summer as an intern at the Bard High School Early College Manhattan Summerbridge Program.

Is there anything more stressful than being thirteen years old? Sure, adulthood is hard: emails need to be answered, bills need to be paid, pointless-seeming boxes need to be checked on endlessly regenerative to-do lists. The mundanity of it all tends to accumulate and harden into a near-constant state of stress. It sucks, but by 21, you sort of get the drill. Sort of.

To be 13 and entering high school for the first time is to have no notion of the drill, or of yourself, or how you will respond when these two things inevitably collide. To be 13 is to have a fluid, rapidly changing identity as the challenges and expectations of life grow more severe and less avoidable. To be 13 is to stand, Janus-faced, between the sunny world of childhood and the steely glint–sometimes menacing, sometimes inviting–of the mysterious realm of teens and being teenaged. Plus, there’s a ton more homework and stuff. It’s an existence I, personally,  would not visit on my worst enemy.

Which is why I give all available props to BHSEC Manhattan for their Summerbridge program, which guides matriculating students from statistically underperforming middle schools through a typical day at their new school. They get to meet some of their teachers, participate in some fun (or at least fun-adjacent) activities, andeat some pizza. I spent the day guiding one group of these kids from classroom to classroom, and we finished up by playing in a drum circle. I learned so much about proper djembe technique in that short session, it made me want to go back to high school and join the percussion club I used to make such merciless fun of back in the day. Being a teenager suddenly didn’t seem all that bad, knowing you could always whack a drum really hard.

Of course, the responsibilities of a good school extend beyond showing its students a good time, and making things easy on them as they fumble and grope through their formative years. Nothing about BHSEC, even in its off-season, made me think it was an easy ride, but opportunities for self-exploration and cultivation seemed to be well within reach for its students. I think that these opportunities are invaluable, and I hope that in my time at BHSEC Manhattan I was able to facilitate, in some small way, somebody’s flourishing in the coming school year.

These are a few of the 50 CCE Community Action Award recipients this year. Stay tuned for more blog posts. 

Brian Mateo Awarded Robert J. Myers Fund Fellowship

Brian Mateo, Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement and Special Assistant for Admission and Early College Outreach, has received a Robert J. Myers Fund fellowship in collaboration with Asha Castleberry, Professor of Political Studies at Fordham University and Defense Council Associate at the Truman National Security Project.

Read more

The Bard Sanctuary Fund in 2018

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Seventy-five years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt gained fame for being unafraid to publicly disagree with her husband, especially when it came to the country’s treatment of its immigrants. Today it is incumbent upon all of us to reflect on the current immigration crisis, speak out, and act.

The Bard Sanctuary Fund, administered by the Center for Civic Engagement, supports undocumented immigrants and refugees by providing scholarship, living, and other necessary support while students are enrolled at Bard. This fall, the Sanctuary Fund is supporting two full scholarships and multiple partial scholarships for talented and motivated students who would otherwise not have been able to study at Bard.

The CCE established the fund in December 2016 to provide scholarships through the Early College Opportunity Program (ECO) and Bard Educational Opportunity Program (BEOP), as well as support for student-led initiatives and other institutional efforts designed to ensure that undocumented immigrants and refugees throughout the Bard network can continue to study and find sanctuary at Bard. Due to the limits on federal and state aid, this fund is critical to addressing the distinct financial needs of vulnerable students.

Our work will continue as long as there are students in the US who are denied educational support based upon their citizenship status. Bard has a long history as a sanctuary and refuge for vulnerable populations. Beginning in the mid-1930s and throughout the war years, Bard College gave refuge to distinguished writers, artists, intellectuals, and scientists fleeing Nazi Europe. In 1956, it became a haven for and offered English language instruction to 325 Hungarian student refugees following their participation in that country’s revolt against the Stalinist government. Since the 1980s, Bard has brought scholars at risk from Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East to teach and do research in Annandale-on-Hudson. Bard College Berlin’s Program in International Education for Social Change is actively reaching out to and enrolling refugees and other young people impacted by the ongoing crises in Syria and Greece, among other places.

In his introduction to a 1982 volume on the history of the College, President Leon Botstein tied together the institution’s missionary, progressive, and intellectual traditions, stating, “All are expressions of the one continuing conviction that by education, by leadership, and by means of institutions formed for the purpose, it is possible mightily to improve the quality of life—and to build a better society.” It is these sentiments that have shaped Bard College’s role as “a private institution in the public interest” and placed civic engagement at the core of Bard’s mission.

In 2018, Bard continues to innovate, take risks, and broaden its global outlook in pursuit of this mission and in support of the students, faculty, and staff that make up the greater College community. At this time of great uncertainly – now more than ever – please give to the Sanctuary Fund to help continue Bard’s long history as a refuge for vulnerable populations.  Give Now

The Future is Bright for Brothers at Bard

Written by Najwa Jamal ’21 and Harry Johnson ’17

Harry Johnson ‘17 and Dariel Vasquez ‘17 are looking to the future of their initiative, Brothers at Bard. They are looking to improve their involvement with their mentees at Kingston High School, laying the groundwork for a potential collaboration with the Bard Early High School Colleges (BHSEC). Vasquez is a persistent voice and leader in the conversation towards promising opportunities for young men of color. He publicly stated, as early as 2015, to LISC DC, a site of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, via Twitter – “Young men of color hold the greatest potential to address issues facing young men of color in today’s society.” His meaningful passion, paired with Johnson’s strategy, are helping to push BAB into a national conversation of fruitful future partnerships.

Brothers at Bard began as a student-led project under the auspices of the Trustee Leader Scholar program, but Johnson and Vasquez’s shared passion and hard work led to BAB’s ongoing development and designation as an institutional initiative within CCE. The men believe that, with the right strategy, they can continue to grow BAB. “We are taking a second to zoom out,” said Vasquez, “look at everything that’s being done, and… put a system to it, put a structure behind it, and make it sustainable.”

Johnson and Vasquez’s leadership is creating a permanent footprint as they actively insert BAB, Kingston, and Bard College into a national conversation about educational opportunities and support for students with limited resources. The Kingston mentorship program is a prime example of BAB and Bard’s successful reach by addressing unmet needs in educational support for young men of color.  Johnson and Vasquez fully intend to grow the program with a BHSEC partnership. This kind of expansion means BAB and Bard are on the road to implementing a new scalable initiative that is changing the narrative for young men of color through a unique partnership between a college and public high schools.

These relationships are integral to the success of BAB. Johnson and Vasquez are the connection between Bard College, Kingston High School, and a growing network of current mentees, BAB alumni, on-campus members, and volunteers. Intensive programming and involvement with projects off-campus are just the start of the kind of growth the BAB founders hope to achieve in the future.

Read Brothers at Bard Part I

Read Brothers at Bard Part II

Community Action Award Recipient Chase Williams

Hello! My name is Chase Williams and I will very soon be a Bard Senior. Since a child, I have imagined experiencing the life of a lawyer or judge. I enjoy the way in which a legal worker is always dealing with a new case and hoping to instill the same protocol in all circumstances.  I am currently interning in Oklahoma City’s Federal Western District Court under the Honorable Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell. While the job description changes daily, I primarily gain experience in Federal Law by observing public pretrial hearings, networking with circuit Judges and Lawyers, and reading over various legal statements. In addition, I have attended a presentation on Arts in Oklahoma, enjoyed a screening of the new Ruth B. Ginsberg Documentary(Highly Recommend!). I look forward to seeing what more is to come!

In Oklahoma City, Chase spent his three weeks interning for Magistrate Judge Mitchell. As part of the internship, he spent hours attending public trials, reading thro

ugh appellate briefings, and coordinating legal functions and gatherings. He attended a banquet about the Royal v. Murphy trial, where questions of jurisdiction and land ownership submerged Oklahomans and Native Americans into a legal feud. Additionally, he also ended his internship attending a naturalization ceremony where members of many nationalities came together to become legally recognized citizens of the United States of America. This photo includes high school students and the Senator James Lankford, who also welcomed our newly introduced citizens of the US.

Community Action Award Recipient Greta Grisez

My name is Greta Grisez and I am a rising senior majoring in Human Rights and Dance.  People often look at me perplexedly when I tell them my joint major, struggling to find the links between the two and wondering why I would be doing such a thing. They usually attempt to remove the confused looks from their faces and then nod enthusiastically or start asking me questions but in their heads they are puzzling over how these two seemingly different subjects could possibly be connected.

However, from my own personal experiences with dance coupled with the outside knowledge I have gained on both the human rights and movement fronts throughout the years, I have become more and more aware of the strong connection that there is to be found between these two passions of mine and was therefore extremely thrilled when I got a summer internship with an organization called Dance for Healing in my home city of Los Angeles.  This organization in partnership with the Center for the Empowerment of Families focuses on trauma recovery through dance and mentorship for children and teens in LA’s most underserved and marginalized communities. Both aspects of the program seek to create safe, inclusive spaces where youth can discover and maintain healthy coping mechanisms, focus on healing/future recovery, and build strong, trusting relationships with support networks that will continually check in with them during the course of the program but also will continue to follow up after the culmination.

I came in as an intern who was willing to do whatever they needed, whether that be administrative organizational work, mentoring, or teaching dance.  I am happy to say that so far I have been able to contribute in all three categories. I have recently been working with a group of teenagers in a juvenile detention center called Sylmar Juvenile Hall (also known as the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall).  The kids and teens who are at this facility are there waiting for their court dates or waiting for their trials to be over so they can either go home or go into placement at a camp, other type of facility (including a place that is often referred to as a state prison for minors), or foster care.  This means that some of the kids/teens who are there will be there for very short periods of time while others will be there for many months. Many of them know each other from other placements and they often talk about how once you’ve been in one facility, chances are you will see the same people in the others as well. This constant state of movement and flux among many other factors definitely seems to affect the kids ability to feel comfortable with or positive about themselves and also negatively impacts their ability to form bonds with each other or reflect on their situations and how they can make constructive changes in the future.  Both the dance and mentorship aspects of the Dance for Healing program seek to create spaces within the detention center that don’t feel oppressive, restrictive, or humiliating but open, expressive, and trusting. The facilitation of these spaces is receptive and responsive to the kids/teens input and aims to make their voices heard and meet their individual needs as well.

In the mentorship portion they focus on themes that are important to them, such as respect, boundaries, and plans for the future (including practical steps that they can take to get where they want to be).  We try as much as possible to bring these same themes into our dance classes too. At this site, I am assisting an amazing flamenco and salsa dancer teach a set of boys and a set of girls salsa. This is a huge deal for the facility because salsa is a partner dance which requires that the boys and girls dance together. It is the very first time that boys and girl will be allowed in the same room on the hall’s grounds let alone be allowed to dance together!  That being said, we began by teaching the basic steps to the boys and girls separately so that they could get used to the rhythm and get used to moving in front of each other and the many guards that watch on. It took them a little awhile to feel comfortable dancing with and in front of each other because none of the students had had any previous dancing experience but both groups caught on pretty fast and would take turns being leaders and followers. For the most part it felt like an incredibly supportive environment with the teens helping each other with the steps that they didn’t understand and reminding each other to focus when they were getting distracted or overwhelmed.  If one student was feeling down I would always see someone else go up to them and try to motivate them to keep going which was a lovely and inspiring thing to see. At the end of most of our 2-3 day a week sessions I always make sure to check in with everyone and ask them for feedback, getting their views on what they like, don’t like, how we can improve, and specific things they want to work on for next time. Then me and the head dance teacher discuss their comments and plan out how to make the changes they want to see. I can tell they notice and appreciate when their thoughts are taken into account, especially being in an environment where they are constantly being told what to do and have very little choice, freedom, or power.

We are currently in the final stages of preparing for their culmination which consists of a final dance show (which they get to invite their parents or family members to- also a big deal at the facility because families get limited visiting hours), the screening of a video that followed their process week by week from the very beginning (includes dancing footage and various interviews that they are a part of), speeches from several of the teens who feel they want to speak about dance and the program in general, a certificate and gift ceremony, and a lunch that is not made in the prison cafeteria (they are super super excited about this part).  They have been working so hard and the feedback has been getting more and more positive every check in. I feel very lucky to get to be a part of their lives even just for a couple weeks and I really appreciate their honesty, resilience, and determination not only to learn the steps and feel confident in the movement but also to open to up to us teachers and each other in such a powerful and supportive way. Now I just need to organize costumes and make sure that the teens receive their recommendation letters from the program (they can use these in court) and then the show can really hit the road!

Community Action Award Recipient Hailey Cassidy

My name is Hailey Cassidy and I am a rising senior at Bard pursuing a degree in Global and International Studies. I spent many an afternoon looking through Handshake, LinkedIn, and the list of past Community Action Award sites for an internship while abroad in Rabat, Morocco. I ended up applying to eighteen internships: ones which were paid, ones which were unpaid but did not meet the hour requirement for the CAA, and ones which would potentially qualify for the CAA. Of those eighteen, I only ever heard back from one, a paid position at a big NGO. I got to do the “pre-interview,” and then the interview, and then they gave the job to someone else.

Aside from some Congressional internships, every internship I applied for was at a major NYC organization or non-profit. I wanted to be close to home, in Rhode Island, but I felt like Providence had close to no opportunities available for an international studies major. Despite my efforts, I could not find anything on the big job sites. It wasn’t until I did some deep Google diving that I found the Refugee Dream Center, a very small post-resettlement refugee agency in Providence that was founded in 2015. I emailed the address on their website, even though they were not seeking interns. I received an email back from the executive director and founder, Omar Bah. After about eight emails and one phone call I was in the conference room with him on a Monday morning. When he asked me to come in, I wasn’t even certain if I was starting my internship that day or simply doing an interview. The first thing we did when I arrived was sit down and open a blank Google Document, going over goals and responsibilities. A half hour later I was at a press conference with Omar as the Communications and Event Planning Intern.

I spend most of my days on the computer, revamping the social media, redesigning the website, and working on our online fundraisers, all of which helps me understand our operation. I never know when I’ll be asked to go to a meeting, attend a conference, or help with a task that gives me new insight into how a non-profit functions. ESL, case management, health promotion, and youth programs are among the work that the RDC does to help refugees become self-sufficient and integrated. They also focus on community engagement and refugee advocacy. More than half of the board members are refugees, including the two founders: Omar and his wife. My initial frustration with the internship application process and not getting a position at a big name NGO has turned into an appreciation and gratitude for where those rejections led me. The Refugee Dream center operates in a small one-story building, shared with another organization. Our office has six desks and is about the size of a dorm room, the air conditioning only works sometimes, the bathroom doesn’t have a mirror, but it is the best job I have ever had.

I drive from my home in southern Rhode Island forty minutes north to Providence, walk into the building on Lockwood Street around 10, wait outside the office for Ellena or Hayk, who each have a key, and then take my seat at my desk, put my lunch in the fridge, open my computer, and start on whatever is on my ever-expanding list of long term assignments. When the founder, Omar, arrives, I jot down new, immediate tasks and fit them in between working on projects and normal responsibilities, such as planning for our upcoming first annual Cultural Gala, or creating new content and posts on social media. If Isabel, the case manager, needs assistance with a client, like helping them apply for jobs or searching for apartments, I also do that. This is a normal day for me as the Communications and Event Planning Intern at the Refugee Dream Center.

In a small non-profit, no day is the same. I have learned so much at this young organization, as I get to see each step of the process and exactly what it takes to run this kind of operation. Though unexpected tasks can sometimes be stressful, it is so much more exciting to not always know exactly what lies on the agenda. Whenever I have a question no one is far from our small, six-desk office. The RDC employees, the refugees, and partner organizations teach me new things about the needs of the refugee population, how to service them, and why it is so important. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but having a team, no matter how small, means that everything that needs to get done does. Helping a community is the goal of it all, which makes it easy for everyone to want to work their hardest and make each day meaningful.

Community Action Award Recipient Eric Raimondi

My name is Eric Raimondi and I am a joint History and Middle Eastern Studies major entering my senior year at Bard College. For the past two weeks, I have been volunteering with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Samos Volunteers (SV) on the island of Samos, Greece. Through SV, I have been working with refugees living in a former military detention center on the island. My work includes sorting donated goods, washing clothing, managing the SV garden, and cleaning facilities at the camp.

In a matter of a few days working with SV, the horrors of the camp have become evident to me. Originally designed to house 700 people, the refugee camp currently contains a population of 2,100; for this reason, the camp is an overcrowded and unhygienic space. There is trash and fecal matter everywhere—the conditions continue to be poor as there is only one employed doctor. The Greek army provides refugees with pre-frozen and moldy blocks of food.

When I was assigned to clean the bathroom facilities in the camp, the water supply in the camp had already been cut; it was only noon and the temperatures were already reaching 85 fahrenheit. I’ve been told by SV Coordinators that it is standard for water provisions to be cut during the hottest hours of the day.

Most recently, I, along with two other volunteers, were registering people in the camp as part of SV’s recently initiated washing operation. During this work, a police officer arbitrarily directed us to speak with the manager of the camp. Through three receptionists, the camp manager informed us we were forbidden from collecting refugees’ information. The camp manager’s reactionary decision was an unanticipated reversal from her previous approval months before. Myself and the other volunteers were then escorted out of the camp.

From these experiences, it has become evident that the camp management is imperfect and disorganised. Not only does the camp lack resources and security, as there are only seven full-time guards at the camp, the camp director’s broad authority to either permit or forbid humanitarian aid from reaching refugees determines the management to be authoritarian and ultimately inhumane. Until a few months ago, SV provided dry clothes to all new arrivals on the island; the camp director has since forbidden this practice. Now, it appears SV’s efforts to wash and sanitize all the clothing and blankets of people in the camp could be halted, or at least limited by unreasonable management.

Although the camp manager claimed we did not have permission to collect people’s’ information in the camp, she failed to administer an official document. A day after this encounter, SV volunteers along with myself continued to collect refugees’ information in the camp because of the manager’s unprofessional and illegitimate behavior. Without official notice from the camp manager that this practice was prohibited, SV will continue to provide humanitarian aid..

Humanitarian work continues to be an essential element within the larger refugee crisis. Without the persistence of organizations like SV, which is one of the few lasting NGO’s working on Samos, the conditions in the camp would be considerably worse than they are now, and the day to day life of refugees would be far more unpleasant and hopeless.

Even though the local camp authorities repeatedly attempt to limit the progress made by SV, as the camp manager is looking to restrict the NGO’s access to the camp altogether, the sustained operations of SV continues to benefit refugees as well as to hold the camp authorities to a professional standard. Three weeks ago, I did not fully comprehend that small NGO’s like SV are so indispensable in improving both the life of refugees and the management of the camp on Samos. Most importantly, I have come to understand that organizations like SV are wholly driven by volunteering individuals; it is from this realization that I am contemplating the humanitarian responsibility to help those in desperate need post graduation.

Two weeks into my position with Samos Volunteers (SV), I was recruited to work as a registrar in the camp as a result of my previous yet admittedly limited skills in Arabic. My job was to write out entry tickets to the SV washing facility. Through this new task, I was afforded the rare opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time in the refugee camp on the island of Samos. As a volunteer-registrar in the camp, my abilities to communicate effectively and to think quickly were tested—certainly, every day brought a new challenge.

Working in the camp was physically and emotionally exhausting. I often worked in the mid-afternoon—this meant that the conditions for walking were unbearably hot; it also meant that the refugees’ tents were practically uninhabitable at this time, as their tents heated like saunas in the sun. Refugees’ access to SV’s washing facilities often became a source of contention. In order to avoid chaos, other volunteers and I would deliberately target specific areas of the camp. During most of my days in the camp, however, people would crowd around me asking about “my clothes, my blankets!”—I always had to say no because saying yes would mean the fragile system to which SV followed would be defied. We knew that if our activity appeared to be unsystematic to other official actors on the island, SV’s legitimacy would be questioned and would perhaps follow with fatal repercussions. Camp authorities were then and still are actively seeking permission from the central authority in Athens to totally restrict SV’s access to the camp. Clearly, the stakes were high, really high.

Despite these conditions, I found this work to be extremely rewarding and enriching. As a registrar, I was invited into people’s tents and containers and was often treated as a guest. One time during Ramadan, an old woman gifted me the most delicious stuffed zucchini I have ever had. In front of the backdrop of injustice, some people continue life as normal for as long as they can. Although their resilience is inspiring and unmatchable, it is also haunting because I know from my observations that this resilience does not last in some.

For the first time in my life, I felt completely useful. Working as a registrar allowed me the opportunity to talk with people in the camp—it allowed me to, at least for a few moments, understand their situation (however, it is impossible for me to fully understand).

The experience I had with Samos Volunteers cannot be replicated. Now that my time with SV has concluded, I don’t imagine I can see the world the same as before.


U.S.-Russian Relations: From Tehran to Yalta and Beyond

A Symposium Marking the 75th Anniversary of the Tehran Conference

Friday, November 30, 2018

9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Olin Hall

Organized by the Bard College Center for Civic Engagement, in association with the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny) of St. Petersburg State University, Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, the Roosevelt Institute, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

For most Americans, the most controversial—and famous—summit meeting of the Second World War remains the Yalta Conference, where, in the minds of many conservative critics, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt essentially handed over control of Poland and much of Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union. What is often overlooked, however, is that most of the agreements achieved at Yalta were first discussed over a year earlier at the Tehran Conference. Viewed from this perspective, the Yalta Conference represents the moment at which “the Big Three” put the finishing touches on what was already agreed at the Tehran gathering.

The aim of this joint U.S.-Russian symposium is to gain a deeper understanding of the Tehran Conference and what impact the decisions taken at this first, all-important summit meeting had on U.S.-Russian relations, not only during the Yalta Conference but also in the years that followed. The event will include presentations from leading historians and political scientists from the United States, Russia, and Great Britain, touching on historical topics such as Poland, the Second Front, future of Germany, postwar planning, shifting balance of power, Soviet entry into the war against Japan, as well as the current state of Russian-American relations.

The symposium will be accompanied by an exhibition of key documents and photographs from the FDR Presidential Library and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library at the Stevenson Library at Bard College from November 26 to December 24, 2018.

The symposium is free and open to the public. No registration is required.
We will be webcasting via Facebook Live on the Bard Center for Civic Engagement Facebook page, beginning at 9:00 am on November 30.

You can download the symposium program via the link at the bottom of this page.

Symposium Schedule

9:00-10:00 a.m. Conference Opening: Understanding Tehran and Yalta
  • A Moment in U.S.–Russian Relations – Jonathan Becker, Bard College
  • What Tehran 1943 and Tehran 2018 Tell Us about Russian-American Relations – Darya Pushkina, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Russian Federation [via video-feed]
  • New Documentary Evidence Regarding the Organization of the Tehran and Yalta Conferences – Olga Golovina, Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, Russian Federation [via video-feed]
10:00–11:00 a.m. Keynote Address
  • The Soviet Union in U.S. Strategic Planning during World War II – Mark Stoler, University of Vermont

11:00–11:15 a.m. Coffee Break

11:15–12:45 p.m. Tehran in Retrospect: The Turning Point of the Second World War?

  • Chair and Discussant – Yana Skorobogatov, Williams College
  • Tehran and Stalin’s Grand Strategy – Sean McMeekin, Bard College
  • At the Peak of Friendship: Soviet-American Perceptions from Tehran to Yalta – Ivan Kurilla, European University at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Tehran as the Foundation of the Postwar World – Andrew Buchanan, University of Vermont

12:45–2:00 p.m. Lunch Break

2:00–3:30 p.m. Yalta in Retrospect: Start of the Cold War?

  • Chair – Richard Aldous, Bard College
  • Looking Beyond Victory: FDR and the Russians at Yalta – David Woolner, Roosevelt Institute/Marist College/Bard College
  • “I don’t think I’m Wrong about Stalin:” Churchill’s Strategic and Diplomatic Assumptions at Yalta – Richard Toye, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Stalin’s Victory at Yalta – Harold Goldberg, Sewanee–The University of the South
  • Discussant – Yuri Rogoulev, Moscow State University, Russian Federation
3:30–4:00 p.m. The Student Perspective
  • Presentation of the Bard College Student-Curated Digital Exhibition on the Tehran and Yalta Conferences

4:00–4:15 p.m. Coffee Break

4:15–5:45 p.m. The State of U.S.-Russian Relations Today

  • Chair and Discussant – Robert Person, United States Military Academy, West Point
  • The Puffer Fish and the Eagle: Russia and the United States since the End of World War II – Timothy Naftali, New York University
  • A New Yalta? Is There an Affirmative Project in Russian Foreign Policy and Are We to Take It Seriously? – Artemy Magun, European University at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Putin and America: U.S.-Russian Relations Today – Nina Khrushcheva, The New School
5:45 p.m. Closing Remarks – David Woolner

Contact: Bryan Billings
Phone: 845-752-4857 Download: SYMPOSIUM PROGRAM.pdf

The Dream Team Part II: Taking BAB Off Campus

BAB visiting the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson.

By Najwa Jamal ’21 and Harry Johnson ’17

Brothers at Bard began as a student initiative on the Bard campus, the brainchild of Dariel Vasquez ‘17 and Harry Johnson ‘17, who missed the mentorship that accomplished men of color had provided in their own lives. Colloquially dubbed “The Dream Team” for their close personal bond and productive professional collaboration, the duo started BAB in earnest during their sophomore year as a place for Black men on campus to support each other while acclimating to life at Bard.

While early BAB activities were generally confined to the college campus, the men had their sights set on more expansive goals. With guidance from Bard’s Trustee Leader Scholar program, they quickly became mentors to other young men of color, on and off campus.. Today, Johnson and Vasquez run BAB full time, extending BAB into the nearby Kingston High School. There, BAB is building strong bonds with young men of color, helping them build their own brotherhood circle, create a positive vision for their future, and prepare for life after high school. By all accounts it is a highly successful program, with current and former mentees expressing deep gratitude for the efforts of all BAB mentors. But success didn’t come easy and was never guaranteed.

Johnson and Vasquez held their first off-campus launch at the Kingston Boys and Girls Club: “We wanted to find a space and location in the community that was central to the young men’s everyday lives,”  Vasquez said. Working with mostly junior and senior students, Johnson and Vasquez focused their efforts on “transitioning [the boys] into GED programs, credit recovery programs, and into two-year schools,” said Vasquez.

Johnson and Vasquez formed close, personal bonds with their mentees. Vasquez remembers two teens in particular who were potent examples of the intimate relationships they were able to cultivate. “The conversations we were having with them were really personal” Vasquez said. These kinds of relationships became more common as BAB grew. But Johnson and Vasquez wanted more; they strove to provide equal resources to other students at the school. They attended a Men of Color Conference in New York City, organized trips for students to the Bard campus, and other events. “We took them to [Washington] D.C.,” said Vasquez, “letting them stay overnight on a college campus… going to different campuses and museums, having guest speakers… who were doing work on [capitol] hill.” Through it all, they continually returned to the idea that they needed to improve the reach of BAB and push its boundaries. “We saw what we could enhance and what we could actually improve,” Vasquez said.

During their junior year, Johnson and Vasquez worked to strengthen the bonds they created with mentees and with teachers and administrators at Kingston High School.  “The way in which we were approaching, programmatically and personally, these relationships grew and become more structured,” Vasquez said. They noticed the emergence of a BAB alumni network on and off campus. Former students were returning to hold workshops and speak of positive life choices at BAB events.

During the fall of their senior year, Kingston High School asked BAB to partner with the Kingston City School District on a grant application to the New York State Department of Education for a “My Brother’s Keeper Grant,” designed to provide wrap-around services for young men of color. The following March, Johnson and Vasquez learned that the project would be funded. The grant meant more opportunities to provide mentor activities, tutoring, restorative justice initiatives, and trips to colleges and events.  “Literally everything we wanted to do we were able to do,” said Vasquez.

The funding partnership with Kingston also meant Vasquez would run BAB full-time as the program coordinator.  “When I became full time… my relationships with parents, students, and teachers strengthened. The grant… has allowed us to grow horizontally, but also grow deeper.” said Vasquez.

When Johnson returned from his year abroad as a Watson fellow, he knew where he wanted to be. With the growth of BAB, the dream team is together again and both Vasquez and Johnson are back on campus, working towards long-term sustainability and growing the footprint of BAB in Kingston and beyond. And neither has any intention of leaving. Quite the opposite, in fact. “If last year was our growth spurt, this year is about zooming out and digging deep,” said Vasquez. “ [We are] putting systems in place to move from a student-led project to an organization.” And the future looks brighter every day.

Follow the dream of Brothers at Bard – Part III in the December newsletter…because a new day is dawning.

Did you miss Brothers at Bard Part I? Read it here.