What’s New at the CFL

Joe Derr '24, Staff Writer

The Center for Leadership (CFL) is St. Luke’s home base for service projects, Community Goals for Learning (CGL) conversations and The Global Exchange Program. As students head into the spring semester, the Director of the CFL, Ms. Parker-Burgard, and the Director of Global Education, Ms. Yavenditti, have some exciting updates about the CFL. In my interview with Ms. Parker-Burgard and Ms. Yavenditti, they shared information about future events and opportunities as well as ideas on how to get involved in the community for the spring semester and over the summer.

Community Service

For those of you who need community service hours and don’t know where to volunteer, you’re in luck, as Mrs. Parker-Burgard has a great recommendation on where to begin: “Just find a place you like.” It really is that simple because it is easiest to be of service when you enjoy what you are doing. Ms. Parker-Burgard gave specific recommendations as well, such as online tutoring, helping out with your religious organization and, of course, volunteering at “Filling in the Blanks.” Without a doubt, there are many ways to get involved in your community. “[Service Opportunities] are all over the place” Ms. Parker Burgard said.

As the weather warms up, students may want to head outside for their service projects, and Mrs. Parker-Burgard has some recommendations on that end as well: “This is the time of year when [nature centers] really need help.” Volunteering at a nature center would be a great way to get service hours, help the community, and take advantage of the warm weather. And, some students have already embraced Ms. Parker-Burgard’s recommendation. During St. Luke’s Week of Service last month, students volunteered for Bartlett Arboretum’s “Earth Day Festival.”

Internships and Shadowing 

This spring, the CFL also offers students the chance to take up an internship opportunity. These opportunities are open to all students in the upper school and will be scheduled around an alumni’s work day. New to St. Luke’s, these internship opportunities were described as a “pilot program” by Ms. Parker-Burgard in which“[m]any alumni [have] offered to mentor students.” From the interest of the alumni this new program was born.  Students can shadow an alumni throughout their work day or can work hands on as part of an internship for an interested alumni. This will take place during the summer, so there will be no struggle balancing your internship and your school work.

Some companies that offer internships include the New York Comedy Club and “Shed a Light,” a Kenyan community center. If you are interested in starting an internship, all you have to do is email Mrs. Parker-Burgard, and she will help connect you to an alumni who works in the field you are interested in. You can also fill out this form to show your interest and to learn even more about this new experience.

Global Exchange Program

Through the Global Exchange Program, St. Luke’s once again opened its doors to visitors and the Argentine exchange students once again visited St. Luke’s. After a long hiatus, the Argentine students came to Connecticut for the last two weeks of April. To ensure that these students could return to the Hilltop, “they graciously agreed to stay in a hotel,” Mrs. Yavenditti said. In previous years, St. Luke’s asked volunteer host families to house the exchange students. However, this part of the program changed due to Covid.

In preparation for the arrival of the Argentine students, Mrs. Yavenditti sent out an email asking who would want to have one of the exchange students shadow them. With excitement, Mrs. Yavenditti said, “Over 40 students responded!” Clearly, students exceeded her expectations on how many people would respond to the call.

The Argentine students had a great time in America, learning about our culture and school system, as well as introducing us to some of their favorite things. My shadowees introduced me to an Argentine card game called “Truca.” I didn’t quite understand it, but it was a lot of fun learning how to play and learning about their interests. The Sentinel even had a chance to interview these students for the article Get to Know Our Argentinian Visitors!

On the same token, St. Luke’s is gearing up to visit Saint Martin in the Fields School in Argentina in the summer of 2024. Just as the Argentine exchange students are doing now, St. Luke’s students will have the opportunity to spend two weeks shadowing students in Argentina.

This is a great opportunity to make connections abroad, learn about a new country and culture, as well as “Practice your Spanish” Mrs. Yavenditti exclaimed, being a former language teacher. By the time of St. Luke’s 2024 visit, host families may also return. Therefore, there is a possibility that SLS students will stay with an Argentine family and take part in their culture and routines firsthand. More information will be shared as St. Luke’s gets closer to their trip.

Now you know all the updates for St. Luke’s Center for Leadership. How will you use this space and their new programs to your advantage?