A LETTER FROM GENERAL POWELL
Welcome to the Colin Powell Center's fall newsletter. We began our programs several years ago with a small cohort of eight students in a new leadership training seminar. We've grown rapidly since then. Our leadership program now supports 33 students. Our service-learning initiative expands every year and is now one of our signature programs. It allows us to support student service in local organizations like Literacy Assistance Center of New York and Neighborhood Housing Services of New York. Once we discovered how powerfully students desire to serve, we responded by initiating support for student-led and student-designed service programs.
Across the board, the Center is growing in ways that would have been difficult to predict only a few years ago. We anticipate a steady expansion in our core leadership programs. Within four years, we will support service-learning opportunities for 500 students each year. Ultimately, we aim to make service-learning opportunities available to every interested CCNY student, changing key elements of the college's approach to education and public needs.
There will be other exciting developments and changes at the Center over the next few months. I hope you find the updates and stories in this newsletter engaging, and that you'll check in on our progress from time to time via our Website, our Facebook page, and at our public events.
2009-2010 Scholars Join Newly Enhanced Leadership Program
This fall, the Colin Powell Center unveiled its newly sharpened and refocused Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Public Service. Based on feedback from participants, in-depth research into best practices in student leadership development and policy research, and an analysis of exemplary programs at leading universities, including the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford, the Colin Powell Center's restructured program now offers the following elements:
"These changes and improvements are quite dramatic," notes Center Deputy Director Nora Heaphy. "They help us more effectively meet the needs of students from many different disciplines who have a commitment to public service, but not necessarily a formal leadership training or a background in public policy." First-year students, for instance, now focus in the fall on the nuts and bolts of agenda setting, policy formation, and policy implementation. During the spring, they delve into the history, role, and options for public service and civic engagement; they also spend 25 hours putting theory to practice in local organizations. More
Center-Supported Effort Brings Clean Water to Rural Honduras
By Flannery Amdahl
City College is a long way from Nueva Suiza, a tiny village accessible only by bumpy roads through the mountains of Honduras. Thanks to a CCNY student organization funded in part by the Powell Center, however, a connection between the two is now well-established and growing stronger.
At the heart of the connection is Engineers Without Borders, an organization that pairs students and professional engineers with communities in developing countries that lack the resources to build basic infrastructure. In 2005-2006, the international organization paired City College's new student chapter with Nueva Suiza. The village lacked sanitary running water, so many of its 400 residents suffered from chronic intestinal, eye, and skin infections. CCNY students embraced the assignment.
After an initial assessment trip, the team designed a complete system for water collection, transmission, storage, and purification. The project's greatest engineering challenge, recalls chapter president Svetlana Fisher, was selecting the ideal site to build the purification tank. The mountaintop village is located near a stream, but the student engineers needed to position the pipes carefully so they would receive enough pressure to push the water uphill. More
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: JASON SELFE
A few months ago, Jason Selfe, a Colin Powell scholar, caught four trains and a bus from Bonn to see the turbines, among them the uncannily quiet Enercon 6 MW (megawatt), the world's largest land turbine. Selfe, an economics and advertising/P.R. major at CCNY, interned with the World Wind Energy Association in Bonn this past summer. The association promotes information and policies critical to the development and marketing of wind energy around the world, and is "the voice of the wind-energy industry," Selfe says. Selfe, who is dedicated to advancing renewable energy sources, traveled to Dardeshiem as part of his internship. He recently spoke to the Center about his experiences.
What was your focus at the World Wind Energy Association?
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: SEBASTIAN RUBINO
At Bellevue Hospital, Rubino, a fourth-year student at CCNY's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (a seven-year BS/MD program), observed the facility's state-of-the-art TEMIS interpretation operations (similar to the UN's simultaneous translation services). At Coney Island Library, he instructed non-English speakers and adult learners about health-related topics and developed and led engaging activities to encourage behavior change. Throughout the experience, Rubino gleaned practical insights, some of which he shared during a recent discussion.
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: HASHIM HASSAN
Hashim Hassan had waited through the morning to gain entrance to the packed Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Sudan last summer. Hashim, a New York Life fellow at the Colin Powell Center, was working at the time as an intern with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The hearing was relevant to research he was doing as part of his CSIS experience, but Hashim also had a personal interest in the subject. A native of the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan, he fled to Khartoum at age 14 with his family to escape civil war and later left for Cairo. In the U.S., Hashim has spoken out on the human rights situation in his native country.
What was a highlight of your internship with CSIS?
West Harlem Group Assistance Inc., (WHGA), provides invaluable services to New Yorkers. The nonprofit organization directs affordable housing and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. Yet effectively getting the word out about these services has been a challenge. Now this may change. Advertising and public relations students at City College have teamed up with WHGA to develop a media campaign targeted to neighborhood residents. Through their PR Writing course, taught by Professor Lynne Scott Jackson, the students are developing a fresh, new branding campaign for the organization, among other projects, based on more than 100 surveys of local residents.
PR Writing is just one of eight service-learning courses taking place this fall at CCNY. Service-learning is a powerful teaching method that embeds service activities in the curriculum in ways that address real community needs. The Colin Powell Center provides financial support, training, and technical assistance that make service-learning courses possible. Additionally, the Center offers workshops to organizations and agencies on how best to develop campus-community partnerships.
In other service-learning courses, students are assisting in community health clinics, secondary schools, and a range of organizations. Altogether through these courses, more than 180 CCNY students will devote an average of 30 hours each of service this fall to community organizations. Their efforts are particularly welcome these days. This past year, nonprofit organizations around New York City have seen their grants and donations fall by as much as 50 percent. Meanwhile demand for services is surging, according to a recent report from the National Council of Nonprofits, based in Washington, D.C. More
The Colin Powell Center's new AmeriCorps VISTA program coordinator, Stephanie Crane, hit the ground running this fall semester. Tapped by City College's Office of Student Life and Leadership, Crane, a 2009 Fordham graduate, recently led two sessions for CCNY's weekend retreat for student leaders. The retreat brought together approximately 80 students in Hudson Valley, New York, for two days of skill building, motivational workshops, and bonding experiences.
In her first workshop, "Community Service and Leadership," Crane shared stories of leaders such as civil rights firebrand Ella Baker, El Salvadorian liberationist Father Rutilio Grande, and hip-hop pioneer and activist Grandmaster Flash. Crane noted their skill in inspiring others to "own" their activism and to commit to its success, and she called on her audience to integrate leadership and service into their everyday lives at CCNY.
The following day, Crane facilitated a powerful dialogue among students about the challenges they face as effective leaders on campus, and led them to potential solutions. "I was moved by the level of dedication and passion that many student leaders have for the work they do on campus," Crane says.