Stifler inspires local girls
While some students spend their weekends relaxing after a busy week, socializing with friends or catching up on homework, Julia Stifler '10 recently devoted her weekend to take a group of local girls on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Stifler, an international studies major and a Chinese minor from Massachusetts, serves as the program leader for the South End Teen Center (SETC), one of the many volunteer opportunities for students offered through the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC).
The SETC is a place for teenagers in Waterville's South End to go after school to hang out in a safe and nurturing environment. At the SETC, teens receive academic help, play video games, and get to know other people in their community.
As the program leader for the SETC, Stifler is responsible for recruiting volunteers, organizing the times when the volunteers go to the SETC and how they get there and working with the other program leaders at the CVC. She is also actively involved in a number of programs that are offered at the SETC.
One of these programs is a group for young women called Girls Circle. Stifler serves as a co-facilitator of the group with fellow Colby student Kristen Nissen '11. The group is a place where girls from similar backgrounds can come together to discuss what is happening in their lives with a group of peers that can really relate to what they are going through.
Girls Circle runs for eight weeks and the theme of the session is "Who I Am." Throughout the program, the girls address issues regarding their identities, self-confidence and their interactions with other people. In previous years, the final meeting of the Girls Circle has been an overnight celebration at the Holiday Inn, which offered the girls an opportunity to bond with one another.
This year, however, Stifler wanted a way to further incorporate the mission of the Girls Circle into an overnight trip. She contacted the Leadership School at Camp Kieve in Nobleboro, Maine to see if they were willing to host an overnight trip for several of the girls in the group.
The Leadership School developed a curriculum, which focused on team building and group bonding through a series of trust activities and a high ropes course. The 24-hour overnight event took place during the weekend of November 14 and 15, and Stifler brought six of the girls with her.
Stifler thought that the trip was a great success because "the girls got to push their limits and do activities that they've never had the opportunity to do before."
CVC Assistant Director John Perkins '11 commented, "Julia truly went above and beyond the responsibilities of the program leader position by organizing this trip for the girls. Her extraordinary efforts show just how much she cares about the teens at the SETC and a true recognition of thinking beyond oneself."
Stifler hopes to see the trip repeated with Girls Circle groups in the future, but for now, she is content to continue working on recruiting more volunteers for the SETC. Currently, there are about 10 students who go there regularly to serve as role models and academic mentors, and more importantly, to just hang out with the teens.
Stifler would like to see more students getting involved because she believes it is a great opportunity and says that "volunteering has been the best part of my Colby experience."