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  • Spring2023

    Spring 2023 Stories ​ Ambitions are ever-changing, but character remains the same (Diane's Story) This is the story of how our goals and ambitions are constantly changing throughout our lives. Diane and Victoria discuss how they have changed throughout their lives, and what has remained constant. The common thread in the lives of both of these women is their strong mothers. Read More Amira's Story Listen to Amira talk about her experience finding a home at UMass. In her story, Amira shares the struggles of connecting at UMass and how sitting in RSO room on campus started to become more than just a place to do work but somewhere she met people who have become her close friends. Read More Candace's Story Come listen to Candace’s story about her experience afinding her partner Gary and moving to Peru and living abroad. Through her story, Candace reflects on how living abroad allowed her to break free from her past and go on the adventure she had always wanted when she was little. Read More Carol's Story Carol talks about her experience traveling to Europe her junior year of college after realizing that she needs to go out of her comfort zone. With support from her friend and her parents, this trip changes her perspective on the kind of person she wants to strive to be, for her career but mostly for herself. The European mindset is what influences her to do things that make herself feel whole like slowing down her day with journaling and yoga. This trip has inspired her to travel for nursing and even ignite the courage to solo trip alone someday. Read More David's Story David talks about his experience with coming out during the 70s and 80s to his parents and how people’s perceptions of what it means to be gay was different then compared to today. He also talks about what it was like to finally be able to marry his partner Todd and what that meant to him. Read More Francesca's Story Follow Francesca as she shares her spiritual journey as a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, inspiring her devotion to uplifting others around her while spreading love. Read More Freeman's Story Freeman remarks on his decision to retire and how retiring has allowed him to grow as a person and start new things after his career. He later elaborates on the ultimate goals and appreciations he has for his life and his message for others when considering the path of their own life: “think of the long ride, not the short journey.” Read More Gail's Story ​ Read More Ivana's Story Ivana shares a vulnerable story about her battle with anxiety and depression as a young adult in high school. She talks about how her experiences have influenced who she is today and memorializes this struggle with a tattoo on her back. Read More Jake's Story Jake reflects on two similar scenarios he has encountered with bees and how that has made him realize the power of one’s own mindset when it comes to handling situations differently. He talks about how he keeps a positive mindset which has translated into looking at things in a more gratifying way and spreading positivity in other aspects of his life. Read More Janet's Story Janet gives voice to her late older brother Jay and recalls the significant impact he has had on her early life and professional career despite struggling in his adolescence and growing up in a time where it was unlawful to be self assured about your homosexuality. This is a story about love and loss but touching upon hope in freedom of self expression in culture today. Read More Joan's Story Listen to Joan as she talks about her Auntie Deli and the role her Aunt played in shaping Joan's life in the past and the present. Read More Jonathan Daube's Story ​ Read More Jonathan's Story Jonathan shares his special connection with his family and how they have been a major influence in his life, from his brothers to his mom and dad. He touches upon his love for his parents supporting him through sports and making sure he was reaching his fullest potential growing up. With deep gratitude for his mother and everything she had overcome in her early life, he expresses the kind of person and a great appreciation of who she is. Read More Josh's Story Josh shares his dedication and identity to football at college and wanting to succeed in his athletic career, only to realize that it was taking him away from his academics. When Covid hit, which was brought with a year spent at home, he decided to change his focus from football towards his studies on Public Health. Leaving your past self may be hard, but it’s the sacrifice to limitless possibilities and realizing . Read More Kaela's Story Kaela expresses how running has been a fundamental part of her life since she was younger but has really unfolded for her as she was in high school and college to something she really loves to do. Over the years, her relationship with running and the community she has formed with it has grown into something that holds a special place for her to continue wherever she ends up in the future. Read More Kathleen Becker's Story Kathleen describes her path to becoming a speech pathologist. She describes her experience growing up with her younger sister Margaret Mary who was born with cerebral palsy. As a child she tried to find ways to help her sister learn to speak. Later, she took her first speech pathology course in college, and went on to work in a private practice and at an elementary school. Read More Kathleen Bowen's Story Kathleen talks about changes and how her perspective of age and learning has changed over time through her own experience with getting older. Read More Norma's Story Norma talks about how she found herself in the later stages of life identifying with something new- being an athlete. She talks about the skills she has acquired through this sport apply on the water and in her personal life as well. Listen to Norma’s journey to discovering one of her new passions of whitewater kayaking. Read More Olivia's Story Listen to hear Olivia share her experience taking a gap year after highschool and traveling overseas with a program called ARCC Gap Year. Read More Owen's Story Owen talks about his decision to go to college as a way to avoid the Vietnam War. He talks about how this experience exposed him to a whole new demographic of people and allowed him to see people for who they were as opposed to the stereotypes they had been socialized to believe. Education served as a bridge across cultures, creating the ability to connect with people of all backgrounds. Read More Rick's Story Rick talks about his parents and how they were his lighthouses growing up. Specifically, he focuses on how a moment with his father in the hospital has guided his view on the meaning of life. Read More Sunny's Story Sunny shares a story about how her relationship with the fine arts has developed and strengthened over the course of her life. She has a passion for art that follows her everywhere. Read More

  • Laura's Story

    Laura's Story In this story, Laura reflects on her connection to modern dance and how it has followed her throughout her life. Scroll to Listen Laura's Story 00:00 / 05:28 Laura: I believe I was four and my mother in a creative movement class that was in the basement of this teacher’s home. She was just magical to me. She—her name was Roslyn Fidel. I have very vivid memories of being in this class at age four and growing like a flower, leaping over rivers, and just the magic of being in the presence of this captivating figure—this dance teacher. So, it never stopped after that. We moved further out of Long Island, and my mother found another wonderful teacher of modern dance. In my—I guess maybe my junior year—I would start taking the Long Island railroad into the city to take classes at the 92nd Street Y. In my senior, I started dancing with one of these pioneers of modern dance, his name was Charles Weidman, and would be in these performances on Friday nights. And then I became a dance major at Ohio State but didn’t last because I actually became ill with anorexia and left school and then there were different steps to where ended up. I was in very bad shape and this dance teacher from my teen years called me, and she said that she had heard another of the students in that group was at the University of Wisconsin and she was studying something called dance therapy. And she thought I might be interested in. She had heard I was having a hard time. So, within a week, I was enrolled at NYU in their dance therapy program. And it was such a lifesaver for me because I had been—there was such conflict, such yearning to dance; and I was so depressed and unable to dance; I didn’t have the strength, and it felt so far away—as soon as I walked into that first class of dance therapy I realized—I discovered that I could bring dance back into my life in a way that would also help other people and be really meaningful and meet me where I was at a person and give me this future. Dance actually didn’t end up becoming my main career. Actually, I got a master’s degree in social work. I managed to through missing dance and feeling that social work was never the appropriate—the best—career for me, I was not one to sit in a chair. I managed to discover a way to continue to dance indirectly through the social work because I was working with elders and discovered there was woman who—Liz Lerman—who had an intergenerational dance company. I saw a picture of her dancing with these older dancers in this Swan Lake lineup, and I was just captivated. You know, I once wrote something about this question of growing older as a dance. When I—often times—and it used to happen maybe more, I would dream about dance. Actually, I just had a dream where I could do amazing things in my dream. I could fly into the stars. I would take off from the ground and sail and wouldn’t come down—things like that. So, I had written this—it was an article actually for a magazine about growing older as a dancer, and this hope that those images when I closed my eyes and dream, that I would still have that capacity to conjure those. That they would still come to me. Because I think the imaginable life—the dream life—is another life and maybe that would be something that would be a gift in my dying days.

  • Janice's Story

    Janice's Story In this story, Janice explains her life long connection to animals and how her experiences working with animals have become her most fulfilling achievements. Scroll to Listen Janice's Story 00:00 / 03:36 Janice: I have to say I was drawn to animals from the very start of my life. As soon as I—I grew up in the woods basically and explored a lot and can’t remember a time where animals weren’t special to me. I had a parakeet when I was a kid, as an adult I’ve had dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, turtles, fish, a wonderful rat who traveled around on my shoulder, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs—I’ve might of left something out but you get the picture. When I got to be an adult, I read more, I learned more, and I started to support a lot of animal welfare organizations. And I got older I transitioned from animal welfare to animal rights. And basically, now I think I support both of them. The experience I’ve had with the most depth was also volunteering for a shelter, but this was for their training department. I worked as an assistant trainer for five years. I had just—I just learned so much. I mean, I was essentially was just thrown out to the training and floor and said, “ok now you work with them.” Rebecca: Oh my—what were you working with, dogs? Janice: Oh yes, dogs. Many of which were shelter dogs, and a lot of those owners were kind of really at the end of their rope because they couldn’t get the dog to respond the way the wanted it to and it almost was like we were the last stop before being returned to the shelter. So I realized that my biggest job was to make get the owners to like their dogs, and to get the dogs to trust the owners, and to get them all to realize training was fun. I had an amazing assortment of dogs. In five years, you can imagine—a golden retriever who wouldn’t work at all for treats but would do anything for a hug; a Doberman pinscher who had to do everything behind a curtain because she was so frightened of all the other dogs. I had dogs—little Shih Tzus—who had terrible abuse histories who just tried so hard. They were so earnest and so brave. There was another dog there who was being raised in a bilingual household and we had to say, “Bueno! Bueno!” I was never bored. I was in my element. I became the hotline for my friends and family who were having trouble with their dogs, and I only stopped when I moved away. When I moved away from Massachusetts to Maryland. I do consider it one of the greatest experiences of my life. Rebecca: That sounds so incredible. Janice: I’m proud. Rebecca: You should be. Janice: You know, I’ve had a lot of jobs, a lot of professional positions, and I have two master’s degrees, but when people ask me what I do, well I say I’m a former dog trainer because I’m just so happy that I did that.

  • Brenda's Story

    < Back Brenda's Story Brenda talks about her experience being a daughter to Brazilian immigrants and first generation college student. Brenda describes the transformation in her perspective from once desperately wanting to fit in to typical American standards, to now embracing her Brazilian roots and culture. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 04:01 Both of my parents emigrated from this state in Brazil called Minas Gerais. My Mom came from the capital which is Belo Horizonte and my Dad is from this small, more rustic rural town called Governador Valadares. I didn’t think too much about it in my early, early ages but as I started getting into like third grade, fourth grade, with people, you know, dressing up for St. Patrick's day. And just being like, there is no Brazilian recognition, like really, there would be hispanic heritage month that we kind of talked about and black history month but Brazil is really weird because we are a little bit of everything. Usually, you know, when I am in the sun, I get like very, very tan. And my hair, especially when I was younger, was very long and big and curly and I had bushy eyebrows and I hated that. I really hated that. My best friend growing up was blonde with straight hair and blue eyes. And I would pray to God, like literally this third grader, I would cry to my Mom, and be like why don’t I have blonde hair and blue eyes, why don’t I look the way I want to look and fit this mold that I so desperately wanted to fit in. So at the time, I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to identify myself with something but that's what the issue was is that I often felt like these kind of headline identities, none of them really fit for me. But a lot of that in hindsight came from me trying to push down a lot of these aspects of myself that I feel like made me inauthentic. And it didn’t really, I guess come full circle until I got to UMass, and that's when my bubble really burst. And so my whole floor was filled with hispanic people, black people, caribbean, a very diverse mix of college kids. And when their families would come they would bring their traditional little Brazilian pastries and stuff, like pao de queijo, which is like cheese bread. And I remember this so well that one of the guys Mom came and brought it around for like to everyone on the floor, and that is such a Brazilian thing to do, like if you bring one thing you’re bringing it for everyone, I don’t know, and it just felt like, it was weird, it felt like a piece of home that I got to have at this really scary huge place. And I don't know, I feel like UMass being so big gave me the space to stop the comparison. That was when I was like, oh my god, I can stop being a poser kind of, and try to just relax a little bit, wear my hair natural. I also feel like going through different experiences and really realizing how much my parents sacrificed for me and care about me and show me so much unconditional love that not everyone in college gets to experience made me really appreciate them on a level that I never had. They really raised me with so much warmth, that it is crazy that I ever wanted them to stop being like that and be more American because it was the most nurturing environment. And now it's like, I’m like Mom please cook and yeah, just embracing that aspect also just like, now it’s time to kind of embrace differences. So yeah, I guess just like not thinking so hard about who I am and just being who I am, is what I am doing right now. Previous Next

  • Emily W's Story

    Emily W's Story Emily W talks to Emily L about how the feminist movement has shaped her growing up and how the culture of women's liberation influenced her ideologies and life. Scroll to Listen Emily W's Story 00:00 / 04:39 The feminist movement which was then mostly called Women's liberation movement was a major civil rights movement when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies. In high school I started paying attention to national leaders like Gloria Steinem in particular, who had started Miss Magazine which was kind of the first thing that was called a women's magazine that wasn't about housekeeping and cooking and among many other things she said that women needed to recognize and fight for the right for recognition and equality, the idea that women were equal. It seems like such common sense, but it wasn't people didn't always act as if that was common sense. In a lot of ways I felt that my whole life, but especially when I went to college I went to a women's college, Wilson college in Pennsylvania and I learned academically some of the things that I was picking up from the culture from women's liberation, things about, you know women have always been pioneers, but our history has been often hidden either accidentally or on purpose. Certain women have always defied the norms and excelled but they have not always been celebrated. Just that there were a lot of hidden stories of women, both individual and national. So feminism made me question a lot of the norms that I've grown up with. I certainly was never told as a kid that I wasn't equal to a man. I was always told well you can do whatever you want to do. But the culture saw until I grew up with these sort of Unthinking things around the T. V. Ads magazines. And that in my hometown was the college that my mom went to which was this women's college. It turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done in my life. When I got there I realized-- I mean it's sort of like my intellectual life took off. There were certainly efforts made by most of the professors to bring women's history or whatever into the curriculum. So in some way I definitely got more academic knowledge than I might have been at another school. But mainly it was just being around all women and when women have all the opportunities women take all the roles. So it was nobody saying you can do this. It was just if you wanted to do it you did it. And so it wasn't political at all. It was just like learning by doing oh you can do anything, you really can do anything. The baseline assumptions have changed considerably and it's much more than the norm for women to have a choice of how they lived their lives. That's kind of the bedrock change. So I think the biggest change probably is that the assumption of inferiority since it and it wasn't all that women couldn't do as good a job at things but there was always the assumption that you probably didn't even want to give women a chance in the workplace or anything serious because they would get married and or have kids and then leave, and so therefore you really needed to give men the opportunities that we're serious. And I don't think that happens as much. There's still some of it, but I don't think nearly as much overall about feminism, it's certainly not a big hot topic today and the way that it was when I was growing up, but I think although there's so much more to be done, it's okay that it's not a hot topic because it doesn't need to be in quite the same way that second wave feminism, which is the era that I grew up, made some progress and therefore feminism for a lot of people could be put on the back burner because men and women and people of other genders just sort of take it far more likely to take it for granted that, of course everybody has self determination. So I don't personally take any credit for that, but I think my generation as a whole, and the generation just before me, um, can take some some credit for kicking up a lot of fuss and making things happen.

  • Charlie's Story

    < Back Charlie's Story Charlie recounts his rich experience traveling the world, and what he has learned from a lifetime of travel. He discusses the importance of how traveling helps us experience and help better understand other cultures, and how the individuals of these cultures shape his experiences. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 04:58 So to start out, I wanted to ask you to tell me about your travels throughout your life. Oh, totally I've been we've been very lucky with the chances to travel widely and a number of ways. We've traveled in Europe and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand. And we traveled by boat and we travel by plane to some places that folks don't likely get to. So we've been very lucky. What what we started doing was bareboat chartering. And so we go down with friends and charter a boat for a week and poke around. And then we got to know some folks down there. And that led to a number of trips that took us to quiet little places that were very special. Yeah, what places did you end up visiting? Well, the some of the most interesting those days were in the Bahamas, which is not far from Florida. The Bahamas, or that's an earring because that a lifestyle is a very simple one and tied closely to the water. So people fish and people say, Oh, it's a much less complicated life.Each culture has its own defining food preferences, but so it becomes a question of which your pleasure artists are buried. So when you hurt Italy, I remember, we literally he took us out into the countryside of his place, and we'll probably had five or six courses. And in between each course, there was a different pasta dish. So oh, you could Oh, the pasta, trouble. And other cultures that fish can be defining, particularly in the islands where the fresher, fresh and wonderful. And and then of course, there's always the wind to wash it down with that makes that compliments of me also. It's all fun. Some of the places that we went to, as I say, we traveled around the world. And it's you, you realize when you travel that, wow, the architecture and the historic ask aspects are interesting. It's the people that make the difference. And so we'd always try and somehow connect with local folks wherever we were. And that made it especially nice. It was interesting because you can read forever about different cultures but until you talk to the people, while you're there isn't really illuminated and and so the people flesh out the sense you have the culture. So I know that it is it's clear that you've had a lot of time spent traveling and going throughout different places in the world. I definitely want to be able to travel more in my future and so I was curious if you had any advice for me for my future travels. The only advice I would give as a general advice that remember that traveling in my view is about the opportunity to meet people and focus on people lose much this the charm with the area and look food and all the reasons that it's appealing. Previous Next

  • Joan's Story

    < Back Joan's Story Joan shares the story of adopting her daughter from Russia. She talks about what adoption is like and some of the struggles that come with adoption. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:31 I’m Joan Oleck, and my daughter whom I adopted in 1996 in Russia is now 26 years old. I ended up adopting Anya through an agency in Russia that had a connection with Spence-Chapin back in New York where I was living, and that connection was open to single women adopting which was still kind of unusual back then. So, I jumped on it. My grandparents had emigrated from Russia, what was then Russia in the nineteenth century and I had always loved Russian culture so it was a good fit for me. I passed all of the screenings I had to do. In October of 96, I traveled to Russia with another couple who were also adopting from the same orphanage. I got a tiny little baby, just five pounds, very undernourished and I named her Anya. And on the car ride back, 200 miles back to Moscow, she was on my lap, somehow I picked up on the fact that she wanted to look out the window. So I picked her up and held her against the window, and she, you know, quieted down and that was a very sweet moment. We were passing a lot of birch trees and a lot of American towels that people hung in their yards to sell for some reason. Anyway, that week will stay in my memory forever. Ali: What is something that you wish more people knew about adoption? Joan: That aside from the genetic issues, because sometimes, you know you need to see if you can match on a kidney or stem cells or whatever. That aside from that, that child is as much yours as if you had given birth to her or him. And I just really want people to understand that. You know when Anya was a little kid, kids would come up to her and say, “Well who’s your real mom?” and she’d go “Joan is my real Mom, that’s the only Mom I’ve ever had”, even though she and I were in touch with her birth family and exchanged letters for several years. I want people to know that these children have feelings. I, on the other hand, told Anya as soon as she could understand “you are from a country called Russia, here it is on the map”, and everytime Anya heard Russia on the news, she’d go “Mommy! They just said "Russia, where I’m from!”, and she was always very comfortable with it as a result. I was very fortunate to be adopting at a time when single women were slowly being accepted as adopted parents, and the same thing was happening with gay couples. At the time being 97’ 98’, I wrote a widely disseminated piece for a platform called Solan, and it won a national award, just interviewing singles and gay couples who were adopting, and just about the discrimination against them. To this day, it still remains that some church groups in Southern states block gay couples from adopting which is terrible because a loving family of any kind is what any child needs. It doesn't really matter what kind of family. If there’s love, there’s love. Previous Next

  • Miriam's Story

    < Back Miriam's Story Miriam describes her experience studying the Hutterite community. She reflects on their sense of community and how it has been shown in her own life. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 05:21 When I graduated from college, which is just where you are, I was able to know about and to actually, in that summer afterwards, go to study the Hutterites. The Hutterites and live communally. But what it means to live communally is that you're not really looking at what a lot of psychology looks at, which is sort of an individual lifespan, or tradition or whatever, of self, self, self. But these are people who live in a rural area, in a farming in the Midwest or in Canada, who came from east from Europe, decades go. This is a an agrarian farm thing. And these people learned from childhood there were a few people who moved into these communities but they've had plenty of children an average of 10 to 12 children, per family. Yeah. And I was amazed by how the world can be so different if you're living in a situation where you don't have money. Nobody has things. No, you don't own a house. This there's a car. But that's because the man who was in charge of the the farming things, he has to go to town and buy some equipment that can't be made, but the shoemaker lived there, and the people who made their clothes lived there. And there was a use of health care that people thought it was necessary. Nobody lived in individual house, nobody had their own fancy kitchens, everybody ate, breakfast, lunch, dinner together. Everybody went to school, but not outside, of course, they had their own teachers, they had their own churches, and they had their own process. Everybody went to church. Everybody wore the shoes that were made there. And everybody saw themselves as very much like the others. There were, there was a family or a couple who belong to the community, and they left. And that was a terrible thing for that community. Wow. Nobody ever left these communities. Right. Right. 2:49 Do you think it helped them in a way to have this really, really intense sense of community? Or did it almost become like a, like a total lack of individualism? 3:01 That's a very difficult question. Right. Right. I think that is the basic question. 3:07 In the United States, there's been sort of this push for, like, sort of extreme individualism, and it's sort of like, you rely on yourself, you get your toes, and that's, that's kinda like, where the line is drawn. We lost a sense of community in a lot of places, I think. So I wonder how we can find that happy medium, sort of where it's like, you still like feel like your own person, and you have this autonomy, but to still feel grounded in your community, you know what I mean? 3:34 In fact, have a probably 30/40 years ago now, there were villages where older people were able to sort of join together and support each other. Because they were they really want to live in a nursing home. There's nothing about a nursing home that is desirable. And they've started it here five years ago, called Northampton neighbors, but it was for older people who and that's how come I happen to be sitting here with you. 4:10 Yes, yeah, exactly. 4:13 Could join together in some ways, but have the kind of autonomy and world of their very special interests, and biases and skills and so forth. And it has worked. Right? Right has worked amazingly well. So anybody could call and say, Ah, is it possible that somebody could get me to the doctor, you know, supposed to snow on Wednesday, and there'll be somebody who would volunteer to take the person. Previous Next

  • Betsy's Story

    < Back Betsy's Story Betsy talks with Brenda about a spontaneous trip that changed her life. She talks about her wonderful experiences and a noteworthy figure that she meets on this trip. Returning from her trip, she decides to pull inspiration from her time away when opening a small store in Northampton. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 04:58 ​ Previous Next

  • Jesse's Story

    Jesse's Story Jesse shares a story with Kelly about his trip to Bhutan and the lessons helearned from his Buddhist practice. Scroll to Listen Jesse's Story 00:00 / 03:09 I've been a Buddhist my whole life. And I had been working with a teacher who had a very big impact on my life. I studied with him for about 13 years and he died in 1987. And I was kind of grieving and wondering, you know, where do I go from here? I felt kind of lost. I just had this idea of going on a retreat, maybe not a retreat, but a pilgrimage, to Bhutan, which is nearIndia. And because that was a place where he had spent some time and it had a very powerful impact on him; it changed his life. So I figured I'd go there and just experience that place as he did. I didn't want to do it alone. It's just that I don't like traveling alone. So I looked for some of these tours, that were going to Bhutan, which there aren’t many of because it is kind of out of the way. And it's kind of expensive to get there. So I was looking for some tours, and I found one in a Buddhist magazine. These people went exactly where I wanted to go. They're going to India and Bhutan and Nepal. And the guide was a Buddhist painter. It sounded interesting to me. And I contacted them and signed up. There were about 10 of us on the trip. And they were all Sufis for some reason. They were American Sufis and their main goal was going to India, where they had a temple that they were going to. My main goal was to visit a particular monastery where he spent time in Bhutan called Taktsang monastery. And it's just on a cliff. It's just like a flat cliff.And it's this, these buildings on the side of it are quite amazing. It's a very disorienting place because you're up on the side of a cliff, you know, and you just like space all around you. So it's quite remarkable. I almost didn't make it. I got sick in India. And I was in bed for a couple of days. And I was really worried that I wasn't going to make it to this monastery because that was the whole goal of this trip. You know, I was really getting kind of bummed out. But the fever broke. And the next day I was able to get up and go and we hiked up, it's about a three hour hike up to the monastery. And I was really hurting. And you know, I've been sick in bed for a couple of days. I was dehydrated. It was a tough climb. But luckily there were some horses that were going up and down to the monastery. And a fellow was with one of the horses and he just took a look at me. He goes, “Want to ride the horse?” And I agreed to do it. It took me up most of the way if not all the way, but most of the way, and I was able to get there in spite of being really sick. I beat most of them up there because of the horse. I don't know exactly how tall it is. But it's pretty steep. The monastery in the distance and it's up on this cliff. The closer you get the more you see these paths right along the edge of the cliff. It's pretty wild. It wasn't that scary. No, it was always a fairly wide path. You have these VISTAs you could see forever but it wasn't actually treacherous. It looked hard to get to but it wasn't that hard to walk there.

  • Obi's Story

    Obi's Story Obi discusses the influence of one teacher in his life, and how that teacher influenced not only his future career goals, but also his work ethic. Scroll to Listen Obi's Story 00:00 / 03:14 Obi: So when I was a kid, gonna say sixth, seventh grade, I was definitely in the wrong crowd. Did not work hard, played too much, skipped classes. It was all slowly accumulating and it really hit seventh grade. Seventh grade is when I stopped caring about school, it was when, um, I was emailing professors - teachers at the time - “How can I bring my F to a C? Or how can I bring my D to a B?” two weeks before the semester ended. So, and I didn’t really think of my future like that. Like if someone asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I wouldn’t know what to say. Eighth grade hit, the beginning of eighth grade, I had an engineering teacher, named Mr. Dawes. And I really liked engineering class for some reason. It just made sense to me. And, there was one time during lunch, mind you I was in the rambunctious group, you know. So in lunchtime we’d be making noises, you know, throwing stuff, all that stuff. And I was in lunch with my friends, and Mr. Dawes came out of nowhere and was like, “Obi, can I talk to you?” I was like, “Sure, yeah, what’s up?” So he pulled me aside in the hallway and was like, “Obi, if I could be - you want me to be completely honest with you, I could see you as a really great engineer in the future.” And in my mind, I'm like, “Is he serious right now? Like, is he - you’re telling me this?” I come from a place that’s predominantly white and doesn’t really give any second thoughts to African-American kids, other than sports. You know, the only compliments I had growing up was football-related, or sports-related. Never academic. And the other kids that looked like me never had any compliments academics-wise. It was only sports. So this was the first time in a school setting where a teacher approached me and said, “You can do this.” And it wasn’t had to do with sports. It doesn’t have to do with a game I had last weekend. It has to do with academics. So that really changed my perspective on life, honestly. He said, like, “Yo, I want you to be connected with me for the next couple of years, and we can talk about this. I can hook you up with people.” And I’m like - I was starstruck. I was starstruck because a person that’s older than me, who’s not my immediate family, who looks different than me, who’s a teacher in my school, really genuinely thinks I can make it in academics. My life really changed academics-wise to like - I gotta kill it. Not just for myself, but for the people that believed in me. My parents, this engineering teacher, who really took the time and told me - you can do this. So for the past like - for the next two years, I wanted to be an engineer. Like, engineer, engineer, engineer. I don’t care what I’m doing. You know, then I fell in love with biology. And that faith that my engineering teacher instilled in me, it carried on to my new profound love for medicine and my goal to become a doctor. And I’ve been riding that ever since. Of course I’ve found multiple reasons and multiple passions and multiple motives of why I want to become a doctor after that, but that one moment in the lunchroom. That one interaction I had with that engineering teacher, really propelled me to be great in this.

  • Susy's Story

    Susy's Story Susy’s adventurous, independent lifestyle quickly transitioned into a nurturing one when she found herself longing for a baby. After adopting her son from Peru, she instantly knew she had made the right choice. Scroll to Listen Susy's Story 00:00 / 03:04 I chose as my major transition going from achievement orientated, professional, thriving and that’s all that was important to me to becoming a mother! It totally transformed me on many levels. I belonged to a support group that was a career support group for people that wanted to change careers. It was an intense support group and we had a retreat at my house and after about a day, the leader of the group who was a social worker said to me ‘you know, Susan, I see you’re interested in your work but what we’re hearing from you is you really want a baby.’ So, I began this journey and I chose adoption to have my baby… I got the call I’d been waiting for. I even feel emotional saying it but I had decided to adopt from Peru in South America and my contact called me from Peru. She said to me ‘hi Susan, how do you feel about boy babies?’ I just sat there and some inner voice said to me ‘just sit here quietly and think but don’t say anything’ so that’s what I did. It just came out of my heart when I said ‘sure. Boy babies are fine!’ My whole body was on getting this child. Um, my real mothering began when I found myself in front of the sink washing bottles and changing diapers and wondering how I was going to feed myself. But nevertheless, I was enchanted and obsessed but the mothering journey began and it continues today. The real challenge is how to keep up–it’s been the challenge all along and it still is–the real challenge is how to keep up with your child’s transitions from infant hood to–you know, you have to change to mothering with every level and it still continues, of course. My son graduated from college and began working and he became an adult! Now when I’m ill he comes to take care of me so that’s a transition. So, um, it’s like a whole other level of living. I wouldn't have missed this for the world…

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