Coming in as a transfer student in my third year of college gave me a lot of extra drive to integrate myself into the community as much as possible – feeling as though I had some catching up to do. I also saw the potential to be a part of a larger community and took the opportunity to do so by taking a class at Williams College – an option MCLA offers to any student who wants to explore a subject not offered at our school. I took “Sculpture Expanded” which allowed me to take sculpture to a more interactive level. As part of this course, the class collaborated to create an outdoor sculpture for RiverFest, an event in Williamstown. The whole class worked for a total of 8 hours together building an outdoor walkway that served as a half-open tunnel for participants to get from one part of the river to the next. I enjoyed this project so much that I ended up bringing some of my friends from MCLA to the location of the sculpture so we could hang out by the river while I worked on it more. They had such a good time that they all came out for RiverFest to see the rest of the artwork. For me, a community is all about intertwining the micro-communities that we are all a part of to make a larger community as a whole.
Last semester I took a course titled “Grants and Fundraising”. In this course, we were asked to choose a project that we wanted to write a grant for. I chose to write a grant for FIGMENT, a non-profit participatory arts event, and in the end, this class project turned out to be something I was really passionate about. Because of this class opportunity, I went on to have an internship with the organization over the summer to learn about how I could get more involved with the FIGMENT community. As a production assistant for the FIGMENT Boston core team, I spent a lot of my time over the summer making connections and getting to know the people and operations of FIGMENT. This photo shows an artist, a volunteer and I working on the finishing touches to install a bubble-wrap dance floor that I later got to with the rest of the FIGMENT and Boston community. I was excited about this project when I first learned about it and I was honored to be a part of setting up what turned out to be a hit with the crowds. The artists of this project were excited to hear about FIGMENT North Adams and want to bring this project to it! Although I wasn’t on campus for this experience, it ended up being another great way to integrate the difference communities I was becoming a part of.
“Blunderwood Portable”, an enlarged typewriter, was built for FIGMENT and Burning Man 2015. In front of it was a typewriter that people passing by could stop to leave a message for the next person to see.
Becoming a part of the FPA community and joining the Harlequin Musical Theatre club shows me what it means to be a part of a community every time I work with them. We all must come together to put on a show to create a shared experience for a few nights, and each and every one of our roles are important to the overall production. We all come together because we have something in common, a love for theater and a love for production, and that’s what makes us a community.
As college students, many of us have jobs outside of school. Every day that I spend time with the four children that I babysit for, getting to know them and sending them off to school, I feel more and more a part of a community of people who care for each other. Anyone who has a job is forming some sort of community within that job because, in the end, everyone is there to achieve something either alongside you or for you. Micro-communities can be found so numerously and so diversified because there are endless ways that communities can be formed.
What connects and builds MCLA community –
I believe that a sense of community is formed when a group of people accomplishes something together. There’s a rewarding feeling that comes as a team when the realization comes that you all pulled through and accomplished something you all wanted to achieve. This bonding experience can happen anywhere, from on the soccer field to the classroom, there are opportunities everywhere to build community here on campus.
This small, welcoming campus is full of student support. It’s shown in all sorts of gestures from friendly chalk-art to events in the quad. People who are a part of campus – and people who aren’t – are constantly being encouraged to interact and engage with one another and I think that’s what makes this community so strong.As new students get settled in for the first few weeks, returning students reach out and offer their support and friendship, open to the integration of many fresh faces. Each generation goes through their first day of college at some point and this shared experience on its own forms a common understanding between each generation and those to come.
MCLA offers various opportunities for students to connect with one another through activities outside of school. From club outings to academic field trips, MCLA has proven their dedication to integrating its students into the Berkshire community and beyond. The picture to the left depicts a group of students sharing a meal, a common way people often chose to spend their time together. Food has connected people for millions of years, making it a traditional way to gather. But whether it be a five-star meal in Italy or a picnic at the park, what is accomplished is always the same: an engagement between one another that creates a shared experience.
Everyday exchanges between student and faculty highlight that we are all here for one another. Faculty, who typically are from the area, meet hundreds of new students every year that become a part of their community. Their everyday interaction with the students show that they care about the well-being of them, and no better sense of community could be formed from that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Krystal Henriquez ’16 graduated from MCLA with a degree in Arts Management. In her senior year of College, Henriquez was the youngest producer to bring the first student-based FIGMENT Project to North Adams, MA. In 2017, Henriquez brought FIGMENT North Adams back to Windsor Lake for its second year of participatory art. She is currently an active voice in the North Adams community, creating internship opportunities for MCLA students.