Center for Community Engagement

Bringing the Amherst public schools to the table

Portrait of Kimberly Stender
February 2014—story by CCE staff writer Jenny Morgan, photo by Sandra Costello

There’s no such thing as the back to school blues for Kimberly Stender.

Of course, it’s hard to have the blues when you’re in charge of throwing the annual back to school party for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools (ARPS).

Pink in the Rink

Pink in the Rink.jpg
February 2014story by Kate Beemer '15, photo by Janna Joassainte '17/Amherst College, Office of Public Affairs

This Valentine’s Day, the Amherst Women’s Hockey team hosted their second annual Pink in the Rink event. During their game against Trinity College, the Amherst Women’s Hockey team decorated Orr Rink from goal to goal in pink while hosting a series of raffles and games to raise funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.

The humanness of music

Pioneer Valley Soundscapes expands understanding of music in the community

October 2013William Cumpiano, a master luthier—one who repairs stringed instruments—poses in his workshop on the Northampton-Easthampton town line. Cumpiano was featured in
A Taste of Music in the Pioneer Valley's Puerto Rican Community, one of the many documentaries in the Pioneer Valley Soundscapes archive. Photo by Thomas Sibley '10, story by Jenny Morgan.

In recent years, Assistant Professor of Music Jeffers Engelhardt has been on somewhat of a mission: to get people in the Pioneer Valley thinking “more expansively about the human involvement in music.”

In 2009, Engelhardt made real a piece of this mission by creating the community-based learning course, Pioneer Valley Soundscapes, to enable students to practice fieldwork and document the musical landscape of the region. For Engelhardt, part of thinking expansively about music has also meant blurring the boundaries between the campus and the community—and this spring, he’s introducing new technologies that will enable community participation in Pioneer Valley Soundscapes in unprecedented ways.

From the heart: Amanda Villarreal '12's fight for girls' empowerment

Portrait of Amanda Villarreal '12
October 2013story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of Amanda Villarreal '12.

When Amanda Villarreal ’12 tells women about the Girls Empowerment Network of Austin (GENaustin), the reaction she gets is almost universal.

“People say to me, ‘I really wish I had something like that when I was younger,’” Villarreal says.

The Austin, Texas native knows exactly where they’re coming from.

Meet the directors of Amherst’s newly imagined centers

October 2013Left to right: Danielle Hussey, director of the Women's and Gender Center, Molly Mead, director of the Center for Community Engagement, Angie Tissi-Gassoway, director of the Queer Resource Center, and Mariana Cruz, director of the Multicultural Resource Center. Photo by Eugene Lee '16, audio by Ruodi Duan '14 and Rama Hagos '15, text by CCE staff writer Jenny Morgan.

"Our number one goal," says Queer Resource Center director Angie Tissi-Gassoway, "is to have our community know who we are."

It's an exciting time for Tissi-Gassoway, the director of the newly imagined Queer Resource Center.

CCE audio documentarians Ruodi Duan '14 and Rama Hagos '15 sat down with Tissi-Gassoway to learn more about her vision for the center. They also spoke with Danielle Hussey, the director of the Women's and Gender Center, and Mariana Cruz, the director of the Multicultural Resource Center. The general consensus? It's an exciting time for all—and it's the first time each of these centers has had a full-time director at the helm.

Simple ideas, big impact: TEDxAmherstCollege to take place in November

TEDxAmherstCollege Team Photo.jpg
September 2013—story by Jenny Morgan. The TEDxAmherstCollege team. From left to right, front row: Diego Recinos '16, Nicole Chi '15, Tabeth Nkangoh '15. Second row: Kasope Alesh '14, David Berón '15, John He '16, Shane Zhao '14.

When Rosanne Haggerty ’82 first began working on homelessness, she wasn’t interested in stopgap solutions. “Shelters don’t cut it,” she says. Haggerty observed that people weren’t being connected to community-based resources and guessed that, by creating access to these resources and offering permanent housing, rates of homelessness would drop—dramatically.

She was right.

How about here? American Studies major foregrounds the local community

September 2013Sojourner Truth's home in Florence, Mass. Photo courtesy of the Sojourner Truth Statue Memorial Committee. Story by Jenny Morgan, CCE staff writer

Founded in 1939, the American Studies department at Amherst is the country’s oldest continuous American Studies department.

Since its creation, faculty and students in the interdisciplinary department have grappled with the questions and problems that have shaped the United States. The department has a long legacy of being at the forefront of many national conversations.

The world premiere of a local story: Garden of Martyrs opens September 20

Garden of Martyrs Stage Performance
September 2013story by Jenny Morgan, photo courtesy of Julie Keresztes '12.

On Friday, September 20, Associate Professor of Music and composer Eric Sawyer will debut his second opera, The Garden of Martyrs, at the Academy of Music in Northampton, Mass. When the opera opens, it will be in the same city where, some two hundred years earlier, the events depicted in the opera actually happened. For Sawyer, the power of sharing this local story where it occurred has “continued to sink in.”

‘Cac Gives Back to the Amherst Survival Center

November 2013Chris Tamasi '15 at the Amherst Survival Center. Story by Lindsay Ewing ’15, CCE Athletic Liaison

During a Student Athletic Advisory Committee Meeting discussion the last winter, students voiced concern that excess food is often left over after tailgates for athletic competitions. Student-athlete Chris Tamasi ’15 left the conversation concerned and intrigued. He had an idea. The junior football player began to envision a system where this food could be collected and distributed around the community.