Summer Centered: Maria Padrón ’19 Supports Restorative Justice in Maine
The rising junior and psychology major is working with Maine-Wabanaki REACH to build cross-cultural collaborations that empower the state’s Native population.
In the small city of Bangor, Maine, Maria Padrón has found a new application for her interests in the ethics of partnerships and restorative justice. She is working with Maine-Wabanaki REACH, an organization that provides resources for Wabanaki Native Americans to promote healing and self-determination, and facilitates education for non-Native residents about shared history and awareness of colonial legacies. Padrón is using her Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) funding to aid in a dynamic, cross-cultural effort at reconciliation.
Maine-Wabanaki REACH was founded in 2012 to facilitate and respond to the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission. By partnering Native and non-Native people, the organization carries on the Commission’s goal of uncovering truth about practices that have harmed Native people, and providing opportunities for healing and growth. Padrón has worked on restorative justice issues in academics and in a workshop series at the Graterford State Correctional Institution near Haverford’s campus, but is now working in a new setting with its own ethical challenges.
“The main ethical question I will be dealing with is how to balance working with a vulnerable population,” said Padrón, a psychology major and peace, justice, and human rights concentrator, “and, more importantly, how to make sure that the work you do reflects what the population wants you to be doing, and accurately represents the needs and wants of the population.”
Padrón approaches Maine-Wabanaki REACH during a time of change as the organization tries to move away from a paradigm of “allyship” (which places the onus on Native people to lead the movement) to languages of “decolonization.” This shift will ideally emphasize education and a subversion of dominant histories, highlighting shared histories between the state’s native and non-native people to create potential for reconciliation. As Padrón helps standardize this new language, she hopes to foster ethical dialogues to ensure that the organization’s partnership benefits both the native and non-native sides of the organization.
“One of the coolest things for me is that the organization is very grassroots—they don't even have an office—and is in a period of transition,” she said. “It'll be very exciting to be working with an organization during this period and to check back on it's progress over the year.”
On the job, she aids with fundraising and outreach efforts and gathers feedback from workshop participants. Outside of work, she’s living in a homestay with one of the organization’s past volunteers, enjoying hiking, biking, and vegetarian cooking.
“I will definitely carry my experiences and everything that I will learn into Haverford and beyond,” she said. “From learning to get around a town by myself through exploring different routes, and through learning how to facilitate workshops that deal with heavy and traumatic topics, I know that my work here will have a big impact in my personal, professional and academic life.”
-Michael Weber ’19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work