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Stuart Haruyama
Feb 22, 2016

STEAM for the Next Generation

Feb 22, 2016 by Stuart Haruyama

Sophie is a member of the Leadership & Community Engagement [LACE] Fellowship, which is a 300 hour leadership program combining community service, critical reflection, and leadership training. The Fellowship is an opportunity for RISD students to learn more about the local Providence area and experience how their art & design training can be utilized for the betterment of their communities. Fellows also receive a $1,200 education stipend at the conclusion of the program.

Hello! My name is Sophie Weston Chien and I am a LACE Fellow at Mt. Hope Learning Center, working as Community Liaison (CL) between my site and RISD. I act as a bridge between the Mt. Hope community and RISD students. My job is finding places and ways for each group to share their story. I come from Charlotte, North Carolina and I am a freshman majoring in Architecture.

As a freshman I set out to better understand Rhode Island, at the same time I was settling into RISD life. I knew that while RISD was the right fit for me, I felt compelled to understand how it fit into the wider Providence community. My fellowship has done just that, and just half way through the year I have learned so much about the diversity and the people of Providence. In January we hosted MLK Day of Service at MLK Elementary through Mt. Hope Learning Center. It was a truly remarkable combination of 150+ engaged RISD students and local families coming together as a reflection of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, through crafts, games and a meal.

As a CL I also get to build personal relationships, teaching STEAM lessons to seconds graders at the Mt. Hope’s afterschool program. This has been so meaningful for me, because it gives me a chance to reflect on all the amazing summer camps that inspired my love of science and design. It is outlet that gets me out of the RISD bubble to share with a new generation some of the same activities that I loved as a kid. It's always a great pick me up on Monday afternoons to know you have a bunch of loud, crazy kids who will be waiting hug you to death and gingerly try whatever lesson you created for them. I am very excited to bring the kids to RISD in April, and show them more about my RISD world and hopefully expose to them a potential future (low key recruiting, you’re welcome admissions office).

While being a Community Liaison can require significant time and energy, I see it ultimately as an amazing learning opportunity that complements my design education at RISD. It has challenged me as a student leader, put my own educational opportunities in perspective, and made me appreciate Providence as a richly diverse place and my new home. 

To learn how you can get involved with the Mt. Hope Learning Center, the LACE Fellowship, or other community engagement programs, please contact the Community Service Office.