Hilary Pollan '12, TA for Techniques in Community Development Course
Nexus Track: Sustainable Development
Study Abroad: SIT Chile: Education
Advanced Degrees: MPH/Master, City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina
My Nexus minor in Sustainable Development and Community Based Learning fellowship helped me reframe my early interest in international education into the skills and knowledge I needed to engage authentically with my local community as a global citizen. In my Mount Holyoke sociology and nexus courses I learned to analyze the socio-political context of spaces, and how to take that analysis to inform the content and approach of educational programs I implemented.
With Nexus/Community-Based Learning, I refined my skill in building reciprocal community-based partnerships, seeing them as a tool for sustainable community development. During my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Brazilian Amazon, I shared these partnership building skills with my colleagues and students. We practiced listening to our local community’s expressed needs, developing a place-based programmatic response, and allowing our community partner to then shape it to fit their needs. With my partners and students, we built two partnerships with local youth-serving agencies that have continued now for over three years.
I continued building community partnerships in my work with youth as a comprehensive sexuality educator in Holyoke, MA. I’ve learned that in order to improve the health of communities, a diverse group of individuals and ideas must be involved. It is in this collaborative space that my global/local experiences from Nexus are most useful.
This fall, I will continue to explore ideas of how the wellbeing of our community is affected by the space around us by pursuing an MPH/MCRP dual-degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. I am the TA for a “Techniques in Community Development” course where I will support the community partnerships for a service-learning project.