Impressions from our Summer Institute

Well, we made it through the week! I thoroughly enjoyed spending the week with all of you. One of the gratifying aspects of this project for me is hearing the comments of the institutional reps and speakers about our group. John Teahan’s comments were probably the most poignant and public, where he sincerely marvelled at the commitment, the diversity, the engagement of our team. But others — Sally and Jenn at the OSH, Jack Hale, Brenda Miller at the Hfd History Center, and Matt and Robert of CCSU — have commented to me about these same attributes of teamwork, commitment, and engagement that characterize our team. I am truly honored to work with such a dynamic group. I’m almost wishing we had a Saturday event planned for today (totally kidding — just want to see if Arthur is on the blog yet!).

I thought we could start a thread here that would allow us to post our thoughts on various events of the week while they are fresh in our minds. For example:

  • What aspects of the week were especially meaningful for you and why?
  • How are you beginning to imagine using our experience in your classes?
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4 responses to “Impressions from our Summer Institute

  • klamkins

    my first reaction to the first question:
    – i am happy that we got a glimpse of the richness and complexity (good and bad) of our/my city. I worry that many employees at CCC don’t often get exposed to these traits of the city. While I think that many who work at our school are more sensitive to the city and its people, still stereotypes and generalizations persist, and the more we can do to combat people’s quick-judging ignorance about Hartford, the better we will honor and serve the students from here.
    ps – as a next step, let’s work to get the rest of our colleagues registered for the blog!

    • abasche

      Thanks to the experiences of this past week, I’ll never walk any street or drive by any neighborhood in Hartford without somehow thinking about the people, the places, and the stories of long ago.

      I can now more clearly see the richness of Hartford’s past and the experiences of those who shaped the city’s history. I think about the immigrants who battled their way out of the front street slums to better neighborhoods, and those who have since called these neighborhoods their new home.

      Of course, who can forget Harford’s extraordinary citizens like Chick Austin, Beatrice Fox Auerbach, Horace Bushnell, Francis Goodwin, and Mrs. Colt? How amazing would it be to transplant them into the present day so that we can all hear what they have to say about the future of Hartford today? Hartford is the birthplace of so many firsts. When did we lose our pioneering spirit of innovation? I think about how CCC can play a role in this comeback. Who knows? Maybe one of our students will someday be the next person to put Hartford “back on the map.” Thanks to Bill Faude and Brenda Miller for bringing Hartford’s history to life.

      I’ll never think about Connecticut’s role in the Civil War with the same patriotic naiveté, but that’s a good thing. Warshauer’s fascinating presentation and the riveting discussion that followed challenged the way that I think about race relations and the politics of north and south. The horrific details of the African slaves’ Middle Passage and the courageous fight of the Amistad slaves left me without words.

      Thanks to the events of this past week, the Old State House now means more to me than just a passing landmark to be admired from afar. I will no longer walk past this glorious historic building without feeling a sense of awe about all that took place there.

      Every patch of green open space that I see in Hartford now takes on new meaning. I’m proud to know that the Capital city is where someone first conceived of the idea that people in urban areas deserved to have a place where they can appreciate the beauty of nature and contemplate greater things. I have new admiration for people like Jack Hale who make it a point to keep Hartford’s parks beautiful and our water clean. I’m now intrigued by the “little river” that I never knew existed, and the magnificent arch I never dreamed I could ever climb.

      Then there were all the amusing moments that I won’t soon forget, like wandering around “El Mercado” on Park St. like lost tourists, spinning around on the carousel horses like a kid, and taking a leisurely stroll around Keeney Park. Of course, who could ever forget the Portuguese feast and that amazing jerk chicken?

      I made some great friends this week, both from the college and the community, and for that I am truly grateful.

      Finally, I can’t say enough about Jeff and his outstanding vision and leadership. I’d like to thank him for orchestrating what will most likely go down as one of Capital Community College’s true defining moments.

      Marie Basche

  • jeffpartridge

    There were so many important moments from last week for me. I will share more of them in later posts, but I just wanted to put this one into words to get started.

    One of the reasons I wanted to do this Hartford Heritage project was a bit selfish — I wanted to get to know Hartford myself. Everyone has probably heard me say that the impetus for the week-long summer institute was my week in Cleveland for an NEH Landmarks Workshop for community college faculty on the theme of immigrant communities. As we toured Cleveland and learned about its neighborhoods and history, I thought about how great it would be to get to know Hartford this way. That idea became a reality when we got news that the NEH was funding this Hartford Heritage project.

    So, to get to last week. What I expected was to learn a lot about the history of Hartford. And that we did. But what turned out to be one of the best experiences of the week for me was the visit to Park Street when we were stuck for a while, as Marie said, like a bunch of tourists. I have never stopped on a street like Park Street. In fact, I usually just drop into Hartford on 84 and zip out again. If I end up in a neighborhood like Frog Hollow, it’s usually because I took a wrong turn. I know this sounds really suburban and stereotypical, but that’s the truth. Being stuck at El Mercado and standing out on the street in front of the bakery, I was impressed with the life on the street there. All these people who looked like they could be hopping into elevators at 950 Main Street were living right here. Also, having spent a week for the last two summers working in the Dominican Republic, a lot of the people and the food just felt a little familiar to me. I decided that I would come back for a visit to try some of the restaurants.

    The next evening, I took my son down to the corner of Park and Affleck and we dropped into a barber shop. The barbers were two young Latino men with tattoos up and down their arms. Hudson and I sat down to wait for our turn and just started talking with them. They spent over an hour cutting our hair and talking — much more of the latter than the former. I found out that one of them liked music and was interested in recording. When I told him about our Music Industry program, he got excited about it. I told him to come down and check us out. Then we went to Caribe to get some Dominican food. The young man serving us was really friendly and looked to be the age of most of our students. I asked him if he was studying. He said he was doing Criminal Justice at MCC but was thinking about trying to get into the nursing program at Capital. I gave him a bunch of advice and suggested that he come down and talk to a counsellor about the program. He seemed really glad to meet me and Hudson. The food, by the way, was great, and reminded us of the food we would have at the team house in the D.R. cooked by a local woman. I noticed that Hudson was really enjoying himself. I know that a lot of kids in the suburbs view Hartford as a place that has a boring center and a seamy surrounding. But here he was just talking with the people and enjoying the food.

    As we left, we passed by the two barbers who were standing on the sidewalk in front of their place. We talked some more and they told us to come back. As we got back into our car to drive back to Farmington, I thought about how great it is to work at a place like Capital Community College. Here was our backyard. Here was a place where I could say where I worked and people would say, just like my barber did, “Really? You teach at Capital?” Capital. I didn’t need to say more than that. I didn’t need to say, as I usually do, “it’s in downtown Hartford — in the old G. Fox building.”

    I’ve worked at the College for six years; this was the first time I’d seen the Community.

  • klamkins

    As a resident of Hartford, I love to see comments like these. So often i have to explain and explain why i live in Hartford, why I love Hartford, what Hartford has to offer. it’s frustrating. Now i wish more people could experience what we did last week.

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