In her first two years at Goucher, Clara Feigelson has become an integral part of our community-based programming. She is a thoughtful, compassionate and enthusiastic leader, and continues to work with her peers to build strong connections with neighborhoods around the Baltimore region. Clara is an Environmental Studies major, Peace Studies minor. She speaks with great enthusiasm about how much she values viewing the world through a Peace Students lens, learning the importance of facilitating difficult conversations and exploring multiple perspectives. An avid learner, she attends as many events on campus as possible to broaden her world-view. Clara seeks out leadership roles, and has actively engaged in experiences and programs that build on her considerable skills. What makes Clara truly special is her recognition that people in communities have knowledge, and that we need to listen to people in our communities, developing relationships and forging trust. She uses this conceptual framework as leader of the environmental programs, and has developed mutually beneficial relationships with Blue Water Baltimore and the West Towson Neighborhood Association, spending countless hours clearing invasive vines and planting trees in the local Towson community.
I have always known that much in the world is unjust, but I never knew my role to change this. Since taking Peace Studies and Community-Based Learning courses at Goucher College, I have learned that education is the foundation for action; I must strive to become educated on social justice issues. Through courses, I have learned that so many of these social, economic, environmental, health, and political issues American communities face today are molded by our cities and governments and become deeply intertwined with one another. These problems seem impossible to address, but by educating yourself and engaging with communities who are affected by social injustices, students can better understand these issues, what a community needs to prosper, and the ethics of social justice work. This is what I do as the Director of the Environmental Justice Programs through the Goucher College Community-Based Learning Office. We facilitate students' conversations about environmental issues in Baltimore from the community's perspective: "Why is this occurring?", "What social structures influence this process and produce these results?", and "What is our role in this work?" Only after we have a firm grasp of the issue and our role can we begin to take action.