Experiential Learning in Action: Granite Arts Festival

My dad is a diesel mechanic. I grew up watching him turn wrenches, apply grease to who-knows-what, and roll in and out from under semi trucks my entire childhood. Sometimes he’d even involve us kids in the work. Placing hand over hand to turn a wrench, replace a part, or get an engine working again showed us kids what true learning felt like.

I didn’t realize it then, but my dad was teaching us through experiential learning. The work he did was hands-on, and learning it meant using our hands alongside his. He may be a mechanic by trade, but through repair work he taught his children the value of getting in there, figuring things out, and coming away with both knowledge and experience.

Even though I didn’t follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a mechanic myself, these values around experiential learning have been an integral part of my decisions about education. I chose Plymouth State because it promised the opportunity to learn through assignments, work, and shared projects. PSU’s recent adoption of the Integrated Clusters learning model has made this all the more possible. My professors have talked about the various Cluster projects they’ve been involved in already or are planning for the near future.

This summer, I’ve had the chance to be part of a small project begun by the Arts & Technology Cluster. It’s called Granite Arts Festival (GAF) and was born of a deep love and appreciation of the arts present in our little corner of the world. The White Mountains region has a rich culture of art, music, and theatre events and opportunities unlike those of larger, more urban areas. Art and theatre in central New Hampshire is smaller and more personal without compromising integrity or interest. Advertised as a “celebration of everything happening in the region from June to mid-September,” the Granite Arts Festival serves as an amplifying voice for the independent playhouses, theatres, concerts, and events of the White Mountains.

My role as Granite Arts Festival blogger & marketing coordinator has been a completely immersive experience. After taking courses like Technical Communication, Branding & Marketing Communication, and Consumer Behavior, I’ve been able to apply what I learned as a professional communication major to this Cluster project. I’ve taken over GAF’s Facebook page, started a Twitter, and begun contributing original content to the website.

I’ve also had the chance to coordinate and conduct interviews with local organizers and directors. Social media is great and I do love a good hashtag, but interviewing has been my favorite task so far. I get to ask relevant questions and take meticulous notes or recordings all the while learning about someone’s love of the arts and passion for live performance. These interviews always involve a lot of laughter and interesting stories.

With opportunities like my position with Granite Arts Festival, PSU has helped build my confidence in choosing a career path in communication and marketing. The work I’ve been doing has brought the lessons learned in the classroom to life and proved that blogging and marketing work are things I don’t just get good grades at—they’re what I enjoy. When graduation comes in just a few short months, I’ll approach the job market with a better understanding of what I have to offer and how my education has prepared me for professional work.

Until then, I’ll be here promoting Granite Arts Festival through social media and blog posts. You can check out our work at http://granitearts.org/ or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

By Deneé R. Woods ’20

Deneé ’20 transferred to Plymouth State University in 2018 from Sterling College in Vermont. She is earning a degree in Communication and Media Studies  with a marketing minor and plans to graduate in December. She loves applying communication and marketing skills to issues like sustainability, food systems, and social justice. Deneé lives in Campton with her husband and two dogs, Fitz and Peaches.