Posted May 10, 2012
A Visual Arts/English major from Lyme, CT, Lucy Walker became excited about service at Bowdoin during her Pre-Orientation trip with the McKeen Center. Her trip introduced her to the immigrant and refugee populations in Portland and connected her with service organizations here in Brunswick.
One of those organizations was Spindleworks, a non-profit art studio and gallery space for adults with disabilities in Brunswick. An artist herself, Lucy was drawn to Spindleworks and reached out to the group during her second semester at Bowdoin. A regular visitor at Spindleworks, she enjoys drawing the artists' portraits and learning about their work. An artist mentor in the organization's "Artist:Artist" program, she also meets once a month with a Spindleworks artist who, like Lucy, is interested in figurative drawing and painting. For Lucy, art-making and service are meaningful ways of being with people, and her long-term relationship with the Spindleworks community has been one of her most fulfilling service experiences while at Bowdoin.
During her first year at Bowdoin, Lucy also became involved with several McKeen Center mentoring groups. She volunteered with the art-mentoring program SmART at the Harpswell Community School every Friday afternoon and worked with ELL students in Coffin Elementary School’s after-school writing club once a week.
The summer after her first year, Lucy stayed in Brunswick and continued to explore her interests in art and service by interning with ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy program that brings free art projects to children in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Brunswick area. Lucy spent her summer mornings preparing materials and leading art projects with a team of Art Van staff and volunteers, guiding and encouraging the children at the neighborhoods they visited. She continued volunteering with ArtVan the following fall semester, facilitating a group of older ArtVan children as they painted a sign to be installed at the entrance to their housing community.
During an Alternative Winter Break Trip this past winter, Lucy was able to continue learning about immigrant and refugee communities in Portland by leading aspiration reflection activities with ELL students at Lincoln Middle School and assisting adult immigrants and refugees in basic English language classes at Portland Adult Education, where she has continued to volunteer. Her interest in immigrant communities prompted her to lead a Weekend Service Trip with Community Financial Literacy, an immigrant financial education nonprofit in Portland.
As a Global Citizens Grant recipient for the upcoming summer, Lucy is looking forward to volunteering with the Bliss Women and Children Project, a small non-profit organization in Nakuru, Kenya that helps local women artisans get financial support and education in handicraft and business skills. Lucy plans to spend most of her time assisting teachers and leading art classes at the organization's nursery school program for poor and abandoned children. She also hopes to document the work of the artisans—updating the Bliss website with their individual stories—and help connect their businesses with potential financial supporters through the microfinance organization Kiva.
"My service experiences at Bowdoin have taught me that doing service 'for' others is so much a mirroring experience, a give and take. By learning about others, I learn about myself: empowering others, I empower myself."
“It's strange to realize that sometimes there's little I can actually do for another person that they can't already do themselves. So it's helpful for me to understand service as a chance to be with others in meaningful ways, as a learning experience more than anything else.”