Spotlight on Summer Field Work Term
This summer, 186 Bennington students completed their annual Field Work Term, working either in-person or remotely on a variety of internships, independent study projects, professional trainings, and more.
Creating a New Residency Space
At Bennington, Sophia Grimani '22 studies Dance and Film.
During her Field Work Term at Tori Lawrence + Co in Chesterfield, MA, Grimani helped create a new residency space for the organization. Her daily tasks included gardening, trail clearing, cooking, painting, and a host of other jobs.
"I enjoyed every part of this Field Work Term, but my favorite part was the community dance classes that we took part in," said Grimani. "It was very exciting to meet fellow dancers/artists in the area and come together in person to dance."
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
This summer, Ryan Chigogo '23, Swagata Songeet Datta '23, M.A Ly '22, and Malvika Dang '24 participated in externally funded National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates. REU sites include the University of Utah, Emory University, Keene State College, and Vassar College, respectively.
Ryan Chigogo studies Physics at Bennington. His REU at the University of Utah focused on High Energy Astrophysics, studying gamma rays from astrophysical sources.
"I really enjoyed the work I was doing, and the people I was working with were very lovely," said Chigogo. "There was also so much to do in Salt Lake, and in Utah in general—so many cool national parks!"
At Bennington, Swagata Songeet Datta studies Mathematics and Physics. His REU took place at Laney Graduate School's Summer Opportunity for Academic Research (LGS-SOAR) at Emory University.
During his experience, Datta worked at a graduate lab on soft matter, a branch of physics mainly focusing on colloidal systems and gels. He looked at how entropy and shape can drive a system of particles into a stable arrangement of definite form, which can potentially be applied in nanotechnology or other similar nano-scale systems.
"The best part of the summer was being able to get a very close experience of graduate school," said Datta. "I really enjoyed the independence that comes with doing my own research, as well as the responsibility and self-accountability that comes with it."
Malvika Dang studies Politics, Writing, and Visual Art at Bennington. As part of her Vassar College REU experience, Dang was involved with creating a section within the "Select Bibliography, Consortium of Forced Migration, Displacement and Education," a work of migration studies material accessible by and catered towards high school and middle school students.
Dang's section, "Metaphorical Migration," focuses on the ties between language and law in migration studies, and how the two influence each other over time.
"Since my REU was remote, I got to keep in touch with my areas of inquiry and interest whilst also farming in Hartford, ME, for another internship!" said Dang. "What some might call 'juggling between two jobs' actually became a perfect mix between being 'offline' and 'online,' which I desperately needed after being on Zoom for the past year and a half."
Learning Through Dance
Timberlake Pieper '23 studies Dance and Psychology at Bennington. Her Plan focuses on how dance impacts child development, which perfectly intersected with her summer Field Work Term at DancEast in Nashville, TN.
During this Field Work Term, Pieper participated in dance intensive, assistant taught 12 classes per week, and had the opportunity to teach the Introduction to Ballet class for 4 year olds.
Teaching the 4-year-olds class "was a really great experience because I learned how to write child-centered lesson plans, and I lead an entire class without another instructor," said Pieper. "I had only ever assistant taught before, so teaching entirely on my own was a new challenge, but one that I really appreciated."
"My favorite part was getting to know the children I was working with, and seeing how much they grew over the summer session," said Pieper. "I worked with kids from ages 2 through 7. It was amazing to see their growth and how many skills those children were able to learn in just two months."
Environmental Education at the Lake
At Bennington, Tom Evans '24 studies Computer Science, Biology, and Photography. Evans used their summer Field Work Term as an Environmental Educator at Lake Paran in North Bennington, VT, as an opportunity to see if education is an aspect they wish to incorporate further into their studies.
Evans's Field Work Term included myriad responsibilities, spanning from planning the 9-week curriculum for campers and managing a budget, to leading the sessions and communicating with parents regarding their children. The Lake Paran program collaborated on activities with many community organizations, including Bennington faculty member Blake Jones and his intern Maia Ashley '24, The Southern Vermont Natural History Museum and the Hiland Hall Gardens.
"Through these experiences, I learned a lot about how to work with others in a professional context," said Evans. "I took a leadership position, so I was also responsible for managing my team, which included another educator and three high school counselors. I supported them in accomplishing their professional goals and objectives and promoted a positive working environment."
Within their role, Evans's favorite part of the experience was teaching and doing activities with their group of 5- to 12-year-old students.
"I saw their eyes light up at the moment where they had a collective 'epiphany moment,' where everything finally became clear to them," said Evans. "I also felt fortunate to facilitate safe spaces for these children to be authentically themselves, and to provide the opportunity to socialize with their peers and experience the outdoors after so long of being stuck indoors! Lake Paran is an incredible resource for the community of Bennington, and I felt privileged to work with them this summer."
Supporting New Play Development
At Bennington, Yvette Berner '23 studies Creative Writing and Theatre. During her summer Field Work Term, she worked as an assistant to playwright Catherine Filloux. This summer, Filloux had two plays in production: Welcome to the Big Dipper and Under the Skin.
Berner took notes during rehearsals, was on book for lines, gathered photos and researched characters and locations, worked on props and costumes, and designed the electronic flyer for the livestreamed productions.
"My favorite part of the experience was getting to see the productions being made," said Berner. "I’ve been part of theatre productions before, but never professional ones, so to witness how everything was done was entirely new and fascinating to me. It also showed me the huge part a playwright has in the performance of their work— and how a script is constantly being updated and changed and improved, rather than remaining a static object."
Bennington students—share your Field Work Term experiences with us! Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for potential inclusion in this article.