Whitman Teaches the Movement (WTTM) - Whitman College's student-led program that brings civil rights lessons to Walla Walla public schools every January and February - received the Service Program of the Year award at the IMPACT Conference, held Feb. 21-24, 2019, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Service Program of the Year award recognizes a campus-based program which models student-led direct community service that has in some way contributed to making their campus and communities a better place for everyone.
WTTM was founded in 2011 in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project and Walla Walla Public Schools. This year the program gave 85 Whitman student volunteers the opportunity to converse about civil rights and social justice with an estimated 1,200 students in the Walla Walla community. Before going into the schools, Whitman volunteers attended trainings to prepare for their roles as educators and to learn the curriculum, with lessons and activities varying by grade level.
"It's a team effort with WTTM," said Susan Prudente, assistant director of community engagement for the Student Engagement Center and the program's advisor. "Thanks to our partnerships with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Walla Walla School District Administration, local teachers and passionate college students, we are able to engage in the community and share these lessons that hopefully will bring us all closer to a more kind, just, inclusive society."
The IMPACT Conference is the largest annual conference focused on the civic engagement of college students in community service, service-learning, community-based research, advocacy and other forms of social action.
Maddy Gold '19, social justice coordinator for the 2019 WTTM program, presented at the conference and accepted the award.
"Attending IMPACT was a life-changing experience for me," Gold said. "The conference brings people from schools across the nation together to engage in conversations of oppression and structural marginalization, and it provides a way to bring back these topics and ways to make change at our school."
As part of the four-day conference, Gold, a theatre major, gave a presentation titled "Changing the World through Socially Engaged Theatre." Her talk was based in large part on her experiences participating in "Because You Are Here," a devised play based on interviews with immigrant and first-generation members of the Walla Walla community.
"There's an aspect of mutual transformation in the work we do engaging with others," Gold said. "You go into the community and share something you've learned, but you're also gaining something in return. That's why I don't like the term ‘helping others.' We're here to grow with others."