Seven Days’ “Stuck in Vermont” web series

Learn about the Governor’s Institute on the Arts (“GIA”) experience on Seven Days’ “Stuck in Vermont” web series.

This year The Vermont Governor’s Institute on the Arts celebrates 30 years of bringing art and community to about 130 high school students from across the state in a two week intensive program.  A GIA alum, Eva traveled to the campus of Castleton State College in Castleton to soak up the creative energy.

Engineering students at work

Take a look at Engineering students at work

Budding engineers are hard at work at the University of Vermont this week.

High school students from across the state are on campus for a series of workshops.

In total, 113 kids are testing their skills at a variety of engineering projects. Some are learning to build and generate energy from wind turbines, while others are mixing recycled carpet and concrete to create affordable and durable building materials.

This year, 34 of the participants are young women, a number organizers say is continuing to go up.

“We’re definitely learning a lot and we get the hands-on kind of experience. It’s really cool because you get to see the stuff you do on paper and you get to bring it to life,” said April Foley, a program participant.

“What’s exciting to me is that we are taking more diverse people into the field of engineering which basically generates more ideas to provide more solutions,” said Lindsay Wells, a program instructor.

The effort is a partnership between the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont and the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

Projects created by 2013 Engineering students on WCAX News

See some of the projects created by 2013 Engineering students on WCAX News

High school students are solving human problems with technology. The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont summer engineering program partnered teens with engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians. Then they created tech-savvy solutions for the environment and pet owners.

Lizzie Michael’s group built a robot that helps those with physical disabilities play fetch with their pets. Meanwhile Sophie McKeever-Parkes’ group made a do-it-yourself wind turbine.

Learn more about the UVM/ GIV engineering program here.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams at GIV

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams was one of the thought-provoking leaders bringing real-world expertise to the Governor’s Institutes on Current Issues and Youth Activism this summer.   To read more about it and see student feedback, click here.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and SIT alumna Jody Williams visited the Vermont campus on Wednesday, June 26, to speak with participants from SIT’s Governor’s Institute on Current Issues & Youth Activism program. An activist for human rights around the world, Williams spoke to the youth about her experience growing up in Vermont, her career trajectory, and how one person really can make a difference.

Williams addressed the importance of “starting to help kids understand from a really young age that we have rights, but we also have responsibilities to create the type of world we want to live in.”

The event was conducted as an interview hosted by Language and Culture Department Director Bea Fantini, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Williams’ career as an activist began as a public protester against the Vietnam War in 1970. After earning her master’s degree from SIT Graduate Institute in 1976, she went on to teach for two years in Mexico. “I had not left Vermont. SIT got me out to a country that is fabulous and fascinating and full of issues. I witnessed extreme differences between wealth and poverty that I had never seen before in my life.”

Williams later went on to spend many years in El Salvador working with human rights projects and peace campaigns to end the war. She eventually became aware of the issue of landmines, and began working tirelessly to raise global awareness of the huge civilian suffering caused by landmines. “I couldn’t believe that years after the wars were over there were still people being killed by landmines.”

In 1997, Williams was the 10th woman (out of an almost 100-year history) to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Her efforts led to the establishment of a treaty banning the use of landmines — now signed by 161 countries.

One youth program participant from Vermont asked Williams how young people could get involved in activism. Williams responded by encouraging participants to “find an organization that is working on whatever issue interests you and volunteer. That way you can see if the organization shares the same philosophy for change as you do.”

“I believe in the rights and responsibilities of all of us to take action to make the world a better place for everybody,” Williams told a receptive crowd.

After the interview, Williams met with youth group participants and signed copies of her new memoir, My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Williams is now working with a number of other Nobel Prize–winning women in a collective called the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which works to promote peace and justice by supporting organizations that address violence toward women. Her leadership for world peace, human security, and human rights has continued to grow to include work toward an international treaty on cluster munitions, human rights in Darfur, and many other critical issues.

Listen to Williams describe her work in an interview with Vermont Public Radio after her SIT visit.