A small group of Islanders spent the six-week winter term for the Adult and Community Education (ACE MV) program preparing for spring in Nicaragua. Some were busy studying the history of Latin America and the Caribbean; others enrolled in beginner Spanish or took a one-day training workshop for teaching the English language through the arts. Some took all three.
In mid-April, they will board a plane to Central America for a weeklong service work project in Nicaragua. The winter courses were offered to help them establish a bit of background in their destination before they set off.
“We’ve been initiating an international travel program for humanitarian projects,” said ACE MV director Lynn Ditchfield this week. She said this marks the first international global volunteer study program.
If the project proves successful, she’s hoping it won’t be the last. “There hopefully will be one a year,” said Mrs. Ditchfield.
The international service project is just one of the many unique experiences offered through ACE MV, whose seasonal course lineup has included everything from carpentry to cosmetology in past years.
Ms. Ditchfield said winter term, which finished up in mid-February, was a surprising success this year. “There was a lot of energy. I think people were just happy and relieved to have something to do in the winter,” she said.
And coming off the success of the past term, Ms. Ditchfield has even higher hopes for spring. In keeping with tradition, the courses cover a wide variety of topics and trades, with a few new ideas thrown into the mix.
On March 8, a seminar and benefit celebrating international women’s day will kick off regular classes. Instructor Sharilyn Geistfeld will lead the lecture on women of the African Diaspora. The seminar is free, but voluntary donations will be collected to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti and flood victims in Peru.
ACE MV will also host an excursion to Boston where students will see a performance of Othello by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Islander Brooke Hardman (who is also Mrs. Ditchfield’s daughter in law) will be performing the role of Desdemona.
“I hope this is another one of those first out of many,” said Ms. Ditchfield. “I’m hoping that we fill that bus.” The performance will be held on March 21; the deadline for purchasing tickets is March 11.
And as classes begin to wrap up in early April, the program will offer an opportunity to see a free small group performance called Nightmares and Dreams: Immigrant Voices. The event is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council; contributions will once again be accepted for flood victims in Cuzco, Peru.
ACE MV is also bringing back some old favorites this spring. Instructor Saskia Vanderhoop will shift gears from her usual dance classes to teach a course about connecting with nature, and Jannette Vanderhoop will return to teach Wampanoag Culture: Myths vs. Legends, a course Mrs. Ditchfield said should be a prerequisite for living on the Island.
A blogging class is also on the spring schedule, after a successful winter term class. “I didn’t have blogging this time, and the class rebelled,” Mrs. Ditchfield said of planning the schedule. Now every student from the winter term has reenrolled in the class. “I thought it would be good to wait,” she said, to offer the course again in the future. “But the students wouldn’t allow me.”
There is also a credit course in the lineup, Human Communications, which will be offered through Cape Cod Community College. The course can be used for dual enrollment for high school juniors and seniors, which means that they will be eligible for both college and high school credit. “It’s something that kids from off-Island get all the time,” said Mrs. Ditchfield, but because there are no community colleges on the Island, the task requires a much bigger commitment for regional high school students. “For us to take those courses either means to have to do it online, or you make a pretty big sacrifice to go off-Island,” she said.
Mrs. Ditchfield is also looking forward to introducing some new instructors, including Kate Feiffer, who will teach a course on writing children’s books. “She knew about what we were doing . . . and she was very open to it,” said Mrs. Ditchfield about getting Ms. Feiffer, a successful children’s book author, to agree to share her knowledge.
Anyone interested in taking an ACE MV course can enroll up until the first day of the class, but Mrs. Ditchfield said it’s best to register in advance because of limited class sizes, and the possibility that the class will be cancelled if not enough people sign up. A complete course catalogue and registration form aew available online at acemv.org.