♪♪♪ [Paul Marienthal:] The Trustee Leader Scholar program is the leadership development program for undergraduates at Bard. Students design and run their own civic engagement projects based on their own compelling interests. I still can’t believe how much we were able to accomplish. We have helped renovating the schools, cleaning the streets, painting walls, planting olive trees. We built a library, built a playground. To organize projects, students get stipends. Those projects are local, national, and international; and they run the gamut from New Orleans to the West Bank to right here in Red Hook; and all of these projects start with a student’s idea. All students involved are expected to take ownership of that project. The directors of TLS’s involvement is really “How can we help with your idea?” or “How can we support?”— not management or ownership, because it’s the students who own those projects and make them come to life. It’s really amazing to have that power as a leader to really craft my own project and take it in the direction that I see most desirable. It’s amazing what the directors allow us to do as students. The Bard Prison Initiative, for instance, started as a TLS project when a sophomore came into my office and was deeply moved by changes that had occurred in prison education. It’s now the largest prison education program in the country. From TLS I’ve learned to become a better mentor. I’ve become better at interpersonal communication, and looking deep within myself to see how I can become a better leader, role model, student, and person in general. A lot of the work I do requires navigating bureaucracy: working with school boards, working with teachers, working with organizations at Bard, outside of Bard. That skill is pretty essential in today’s world. I was able to bring high school students into that process and they were able to learn those skills with me. We have monthly retreats and workshops and writings to make sure that we are really engaging and understanding our subject and the reason we’re involved with the program and engaging with the world. The fact that they are not academic programs and they can go for multiple years allows them to grow into projects that are quite extraordinary in scale. I, honestly, had not done anything even remotely on the scale of what I’ve done with the farm before I came to Bard. It was really an eye-opener to my own ability to help lead projects like this and make big things happen. ♪♪♪