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Many thanks to our community partners for providing our students with enriching experiential opportunities, and to faculty for helping students to reflect on these experiences and integrate practice with theory.  Community-Engaged Learning is learner-driven, encouraging students to train multiple disciplinary lenses on their experiences. Read below to learn how Community-Engaged Learning allows our students to inspect ideas, craft connections, and develop dispositional skills to become "better" at being human. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN 2020!

Student Perspectives 

Eugene Lopez-Huerta '20, Latin American and Latino/a Studies  at
Dutchess Country Public Defender's Office, Poughkeepsie, NY
 
     Working at the Public Defender’s Office has encouraged me to analyze the systemic decisions that create a high demand for public legal services. Vassar’s liberal arts education asks students to contextualize larger-than-life structures, as well as the groups who design and benefit from them. However, Community-Engaged Learning asks students to work with institutions to understand the structures they follow and reform. Such experiential work reveals the first-hand accounts, emotions, and motives that also affect how communities receive support. Through my placement, I observed how seemingly unrelated vulnerabilities lead individuals into a complex bureaucratic process. Immigration status, race, mental health, and other identities intersect and are targeted by those who enforce the carceral state. 


 

Public Defenders are attorneys who provide legal representation to those who cannot afford their own lawyer. Their work typically involves criminal cases, from violations to felonies. As an intern, I worked within the Intake Unit to determine whether individuals qualified for the services of a Public Defender. Situated on Market Street, the Dutchess County Public Defender’s Office sits across from Dutchess Family Court. 


A typical day as an intern includes conducting one-on-one interviews with potential clients. By documenting criminal charges and financial qualifications, this intake process verifies the eligibility of a client and assigns a Public Defender to their case. Therefore, the intake unit is crucial to the timely and effective representation of clients. The interviewer may be the first person a client speaks to about their case, so interns must be thorough and professional in their work. 

I would also occasionally be asked to provide translation services for Spanish-speaking clients. Although the office may access interpreters over the phone, it’s understandably easiest when someone in the office can translate in person. Poughkeepsie’s public offices demonstrate a critical need for multilingual services, and Community Engaged Learning provides students with a chance to positively contribute to this issue. As a Hispanic Studies minor, I value any opportunity to practice my Spanish outside of an academic setting. 

Working at the Public Defender’s Office has encouraged me to analyze the systemic decisions that create a high demand for public legal services. Vassar’s liberal arts education asks students to contextualize larger-than-life structures, as well as the groups who design and benefit from them. However, Community-Engaged Learning asks students to work with institutions to understand the structures they follow and reform. Such experiential work reveals the first-hand accounts, emotions, and motives that also affect how communities receive support. Through my placement, I observed how seemingly unrelated vulnerabilities lead individuals into a complex bureaucratic process. Immigration status, race, mental health, and other identities intersect and are targeted by those who enforce the carceral state. 

Lindsay Irwin '21, English and Drama  at
Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie, NY

Forgotten garden 
wind-blown-in entrance 
the wood has fallen 
trampled by the sky 
the leaves are out to get us 

My farm muscles are 
coming in again 
I’m covered in yellow 
like the sun, 
shining with tomato dust 
and happy in this 
dirt and grime 
of all life imaginable – 
free from my 
clean 
compulsions – 

Finally 
Feel 
Clean. 



Tingling green 
with a blush of red 
I glimpse her flyaway tangles 
through the vines – 
face obscured by green leaves. 
We are in a worker’s fairytale 
and I finally 
understand 
how love blooms so easily 
in fields, sun, dirt under my fingernails. 
Who wouldn’t want to combine and create 
something beautiful 
together, something to rival these glistening fruits... 
Muscles pumping 
heads whirring with un-spoken 
thoughts like lightning bugs 
I giggle lightly in anticipation 
of catching up with her 
in the rows, 
getting to brush by on the other side 
stack after stack 
of blushing fruits, 
practically bursting with love 
~~~~~~~~  
THE END 

 











 
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO START THE PROCESS

Community partners: Please provide a description of new opportunities for the Spring '20 semester either here or below.     

REQUEST FOR PARTNERSHIPS

Featured CEL Opportunity


Interested in prison abolition, social work, and/or criminal justice?

Vassar alumae Gabby Miranda is seeking interns at the Center for Appellate Litigation, a non-profit public defender office handling appeals and other post-conviction matters in Manhattan and the Bronx. The interns will help with the Conditions of Confinement Project which helps our people incarcerated across New York state with a number of issues, including but not limited to advocacy for medical and mental health treatment, and confronting instances of physical and verbal harassment from facility staff and/or fellow inmates. Additionally, the Conditions Team eam also regularly intervenes on behalf of our clients to help them navigate institutional barriers pertaining to lost property, missing payments, surcharge deferrals, time credit and computation, and securing law library access. 

 
EXPLORE OTHER PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITIES HERE

COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS

Trash Talks!

Turn your TRASH into ART

MASS Design Group is renovating what is currently called 'the Hive' located on Academy St and Church St. in Poughkeepsie. Artist Suprina Kenney is partnering with them create a public sculpture for this space that talks about our consumption, and what/why we throw so much away.

Donate:

  • Holiday gift wrapping, bows, ribbons
  • Makeup-containers/blush/mascara/empty lipsticks
  • Plastic bags any size any color
  • Plastic bottles any size any color 
  • Garden hoses
  • Wires-computer/extension cords/phone etc.
  • Toys/dolls
  • Keys
  • Golf balls/play balls/sports balls
  • Straws 
  • Styrofoam
  • Laundry detergent bottles
  • CDs
  • Pens
  • Trophies
  • Jewelry
  • Keyboards
  • Clocks
  • Faux flowers
  • Phones (no batteries please)
  • Mesh fruit bags

DROP OFF LOCATIONS
Adriance Memorial Library at 22 Noxon St. 845-485-3445 Open M-Thr. 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. and Fri-Sat 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  They may be closed for holidays so confirm with them. There is a box at the front desk.
Poughkeepsie Transfer Station at 26 Howard Street. 845-451-4108. They are open M-F 7:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m., Sat. 7:00 a.m. -- Noon. Drive up to the office at top of hill, there will be the poster that you saw at the Poughkeepsie Open Studio or go ask Tony at the office!
 

 









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