Akwesasne Mobile Cultural Center by students of Paul Smith | News, sports, work

PAUL SMITHS – Paul Smith’s College students have completed construction of the Akwesasne Mobile Cultural Center, the result of a partnership between Paul Smith’s College and Nia’s Little Library, a non-profit organization that promotes literacy and the preservation of the Mohawk language, according to a press release from the school issued in last week.

According to the announcement, the director of Nia’s Little Library, Akat Ransom, contacted Professor Deb Naybor of Paul Smith’s College (PSC) in 2019 with the idea of ​​designing a mobile library and learning center for the Akwesasne community that could be used for a variety of purposes.

“The idea was to build a cultural center where they could teach the Mohawk language, tutor children, and also have a mobile library” Naybor told Telegram.

Naybor is a professor of natural resources and sustainability at PSC and said on Saturday that grant funding from the Akwesasne Settlement Trust Fund has been paused due to the pandemic, but Naybor has found other ways to keep her students busy with projects that would benefit both their education and the Akwesasne community.

“We couldn’t build it, so we built 11 free libraries” Najbor said. These boxes are distributed throughout the St. Regis Mohawk.

“The next year we still couldn’t build it, so we built a little bookmobile for them” Naybor explained. Construction began in September, when the funding was awarded, according to the announcement.

Under Naybor’s guidance and direction, 22 students completed 90% of the construction on their own during that academic year, learning basic construction skills by hand.

The structure was built with locally sourced wood as well as recycled or environmentally friendly materials, the release said.

“We tried to use as much local and natural materials as possible so that all the wood on the roof was made in our sawmill” Naybor told Telegram on Saturday during an open day to mark the completion of the project. “The knotty pine came from a mill about eight miles away, all locally harvested.

“We used everything we could.”

The students’ task was to make choices that would reduce human impact on our environment. In addition, students received a PSC Sustainability Grant for a solar-powered system that allows the center to operate entirely off-grid.

“The students are very proud of this project” Naybor said in a release. “It has given them a sense of accomplishment and a way to help a community that faces many challenges.

“That’s what Paul Smith does; we take an idea and turn it into experiential learning that leads to a positive end product.”

The trailer features original designs such as a bookcase for children in the shape of a tree branch and a kitchen counter made of scraps of exotic and local wood. The tile mosaic depicting the creation story of the Mohawks in the entryway is paired with carvings of animals from the Haudenosaunee clan.

“When two like-minded people come up with the idea of ​​creating a learning place that can be shared with the community, it can have a huge impact on many communities” said PSC interim president Dan Kelting. “I congratulate Professor Naybor, Principal Ransom and our wonderful students at Paul Smith’s College for building a wonderful center that better preserves the culture and history of the Akwesasne people.”

The mobile cultural center will be transported to new owners in August, Naybor told Telegram.

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