It’s no secret that middkids do some pretty dope stuff over the summer. From internships that take us across the globe to volunteer opportunities in our local communities, our entire student body is scattered this summer trying to gain a little bit of that real world experience that everyone tells us is so important. Right here at home, though, some Midd students have been working on something extraordinary. Just last weekend, MiddChallenge winner Lena Jacobs ‘17.5 celebrated the completion of the Dream Bus. Intrigued? Like Lena’s perfectly coordinated blue shoes? Read on…
[Editors note: this article was originally published in the Addison Independent, speaking of summer internships…]
For unsuspecting middle schoolers, a school bus turned blue overnight.
Here, in the parking lot of Anna Sunderland Stowell Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall, Middlebury College junior Lena Jacobs has transformed a typical, yellow school bus into a mobile classroom that will soon depart Vermont for a summer-long trip across the United States.
The newly converted bus, which Jacobs purchased off of Craigslist from a seller in New Haven, CT, is designed to encourage social entrepreneurship and intellectual risk-taking by connecting high school students with experts in graphic design, marketing, social media, and more. For Jacobs, the project is a continuation of her work with The Future Project, a national campaign to empower young people to pursue their passions and bring their ideas to fruition.
The Dream Bus, as it is now known, will leave Cornwall this weekend for a months-long trip, stopping in 7 major cities, including Detroit, Omaha, Denver and Los Angeles. At each location, the bus will park at the various high schools where The Future Project has already established a presence. There, the Dream Bus will provide those high school students with the opportunity to workshop their ideas with local community members and Future Project specialists known as Dream Directors.
“When a student gets on the bus, they sit down with a Dream Director in the lounge seating area and chat through their idea,” explained Jacobs. “Then they come up to a high top table where local community members will stand with their computers. In every city, we’re going to ask people to volunteer their time,” she added. “These people might be graphic designers who will develop a logo for your project idea, or maybe they’ll be campaign managers who are really good with social media, so they can help you figure out what your Twitter should be called and what you should be tweeting about.”
Jacobs will spend the next week working to enlist such community volunteers for the Dream Bus. “The bus is kind of just a liaison, bringing these (community members and high school students) together for the time being. The important thing is that when it leaves, there are still people there to follow up with the students.”
After receiving a grant from The Future Project and MiddChallenge, an ideas competition sponsored by the college, Jacobs and a team of fellow students including Brandon Gell ’16, Morgan Raith ‘16.5, and Josh Espy ’17 have worked tirelessly to create this unconventional learning space.
“It’s all happened really fast,” said Gell, an architecture major who has been instrumental in the bus’s transformation.
“When Brandon arrived the only thing that was in the bus was the flooring,” Jacobs said. “There was no electrical, there were no seats, it was not painted, the table didn’t exist. We hadn’t even purchased wood yet.”
Yet Jacobs and her team have not been been working alone.