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  • 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

  • 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.

  • Jacqueline's Story

    < Back Jacqueline's Story Jacqueline talks about the most important person in her life; her mom. She describes her perseverance, strength, and love for both her and her brother. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:40 Can you tell me about the most important people in your life? Yeah, I would say definitely my mom, for obvious reasons. She's amazing. And she's definitely my biggest role model. My mom started, she went to college to be an accountant. And then she hated that, because she didn't like how accountants were very, to the point didn't have like much of a sense of humor. And she, she's such a big person. She's such a talker, so that was important to her. So then she went into health care, she went to nursing school. When I was about four, my parents got divorced me, my brother, and my mom went to go live with my uncle. And my aunt, my cousin in born, which is where we then bought our house. between in between when they got divorced, she was in the middle of nursing school, so I can't imagine how hard that was for her. So being with my living with my aunt uncle definitely made it easier for her. And we spent a lot of time with them one on one, then she started working down in P town, which is about maybe two hours from my house, maybe a little less. And she would go every day work double shifts, drive all the way home sleep and do it all over again. I don't know how she did it. And then she started teaching nursing assistants. And she loved it. She was working just as a teacher under the owner. And then the owner decided that she was going to sell the company. And my mom was devastated because she loved her job. So she ended up buying the school from her. She had the school for a while, probably like 10 years, it was definitely hard because the financial situation wasn't always constant. Because that's obviously what happens when you own your own business. And it will add everything fell on her if like one of her teachers couldn't go. So there were times where it was just her running the business. So she's definitely worked very hard. And then about three or four years ago, this nursing home agency reached out to her asking them asking her to teach all of their and all of their facilities. And she took it almost right away. She's still with the company. And that's the company that I've also worked through. I think as I'm aging, I'm becoming closer with my mom in a different way. Like we're becoming more like friends than mother and daughter even though she's always been like a friend to me and all my friends go to my mom for any problems, any advice, which I think is super important. Every year on my birthday since my birthday on Christmas Eve My mom always made sure no one could say the words Christmas Eve on my birthday. It was always Jacqueline's birthday. And she would always set up she'd had balloons and she loves cards. So she'd have like a million cards. And like just a whole setup and it was always so grand and special. And so that's every year. That's definitely something that I'm looking forward to. I would like to be as good of a mother as she has been to me. I think she's done. Such a good job raising my brother and I She's worked very hard. She hasn't had a lot of extra money or extra time or anything. So I think just making sure that when I'm older that I have the ability to take care of her like she took care of me Previous Next

  • Marci's Story

    Marci's Story ​ Scroll to listen Marci's Story 00:00 / 03:26 ​

  • Nikki's Story

    Nikki's Story Nikki describes her travels to Manzanillo Cuba where she and her fellow volunteers created and conducted a Kids Camp for the children of Manzanillo and its surrounding villages. She expresses the importance of perspective taking, treating others with compassion and understanding the true impact one seemingly small act can have on the lives of others. Scroll to listen Nikki's Story 00:00 / 02:38 As a kid in highschool I started getting involved in community outreach programs initially starting with the youth perish in my local town so there I kind of learned to have a greater appreciation for volunteering and just people in general so I think that when it came to getting a worldly kind of perspective the first time I really experienced that was when I was chosen to go on an outreach trip to Manzanillo Cuba so the basis of the whole trip was to put on a kids camp is what we called it we ran a bunch of donation sports drives in the US and then brought all of those sports equipment over to Cuba and in Ramonas we were in electricity was kind of hard to come by and in ther individual home one of the things that we brought with us to Cuba my dad had actually donated and one of the things he had always told me growing up was to leave a frisbee in the back of your car in case you get stuck somewhere and your bored or its a nice day and you want to do something fun so one thing he found online was these glow in the dark frisbees you press the button and these neon light start popping up and when you threw it it spiraled in the air and it looked really cool and so we had a couple of them growing up and I had always loved them so he had bought a bunch and donated them to the cause and I remember our first night in Ramonas we broke out the glow in the dark frisbees and me and one of the other volunteers stood out and threw it across one of the open fields it was like lightning had struck and these people had never seen anything like it before children, adults, everyone flooded over to where we were and everyone wanted a turn throwing the magical light up frisbee through the night sky and I remember hearing these whoops and hollars and screams just joyful cheers of such a small kind of thing in my mind something that I had grown up with and now I wouldnt really think os as too monumental but for someone who has never seen something like that before I think that it again brought that blissful sense of innocence back into my perspective and not only for myself reflective back on it but I hope to think that those people who volunteered and locals can think back to that beautiful starry night in Cuba, seeing that beautiful rainbow frisbee flying across the night sky for the first time and yeah that was definitely one of the most prominent kind of visual memories that I have

  • Nina's Story

    Nina's Story Nina Kleinberg tells Liya Liang the story about the moment she decided to leave her home and STEM education to pursue an education and career in film on the other side of the country Scroll to listen Nina's Story 00:00 / 03:28 What role has education played in your life? I think education has played an extraordinarily important role in my life in that every time there was something new that I wanted to learn or get involved in. I sought out the best educational experience possible. Education was highly valued in my family, both of my parents had masters degrees and professions. And the understanding when I was growing up for both me and my sister was that we would go to high school and we would go to college and our parents would support us through graduation from college and then we were on our own. When I started off in college, I was Pre-Med with the goal of becoming an obstetrician gynecologist. I had started observing and attending births when I was a candy striper at the age of 14 and even then, I knew that there was something wrong with the way obstetrics was practiced and I felt that my best role could be to become an OBGYN and change that. Very shortly after I got there, I got this sense that in being pre-med I was essentially going to approach the human body as a very sophisticated machine. And that as a physician, I was going to be an extremely sophisticated auto mechanic. And the emphasis was always on the hard sciences and not very much on human interaction. And I just intuitively knew that was wrong, I felt the what felt to me the wrong approach to healthcare. Somewhere in my sophomore year I decided I was not going to become a doctor and decided that I would become a teacher and I applied to and got into an MAT program with the goal of becoming a teacher. Between the summer program, which was part of my MAT program, and returning to school in the fall. I went to England where I met a man who was staring in a television series and he invited me to come to the set and watch how they shot it. And, again I was just totally hooked with the process. I remember on the plane home I was flying back from England I was going to be back in graduate school in a few days. I sobbed so heavily that the flight attendant asked me if I was okay, and by the time I landed I had decided to drop out of graduate school and become a film maker. It was you know within the space of a month of two from that first lecture till that decision, it changed my whole life.

  • Jonathan's Story

    Jonathan's Story Jonathan Daube (Northampton, MA) speaks with Selena DeCosta (Easton/Amherst, MA) about his time spent teaching in Malawi and how it shaped his view of the world for the rest of his life. Scroll to listen Jonathan's Story 00:00 / 02:34 I spent two years in Malawi. I think for me it was more valuable than graduate school. I learned an enormous amount. About the world, about myself, and when we got back, it was 1970. This country, the United States, was in considerable turmoil. And I found that my experience in Malawi helped me in ways I wasn’t even aware of. Helped me work with all kinds of students, especially African american. Because for two years I had been, my bosses had been, african american, well not american, african. It just came naturally to me to work with people of very different backgrounds. That was extraordinarily, extraordinarily helpful. So that's, that's how we got there and we went with one child and came back with two. Our daughter, the middle child, was born there. Do you look at the world differently now than you did at that age? I think I do. I understood, perhaps still understand, what real poverty is like. Beyond anything you could see, well I could see, in this country. I understood, and understand now, now that I am much older, what it is like to be in a situation where there just aren’t medical services the way we are accustomed to them. A town like Northampton with a population of about 30,000 would have in Malawi, would have less than one doctor for the whole town. So there would be all kinds of people who would have no access to medical help at all. I am more comfortable in situations that I have never been in before. I would now say, and I say it to my own children, that to be fully educated and you know somewhat understand the world we live in, you have to spend some time, and I don’t mean just a week or two, you have to spend some time in a different culture. Now the different culture could be a very different kind of family or set up down the road, it doesn’t have to be overseas, but normally it would be.

  • 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

  • Hannah's Story

    Hannah's Story Hannah talks about the risk that she took in studying abroad in Amsterdam and her experience amercing herself in the culture by herself and how it impacted her future career path. Scroll to listen Hannah's Story 00:00 / 02:07 Would you tell me about a time that you took a risk? A time I took a risk was going abroad last semester, my fall semester, senior year to Amsterdam. And I know it's like cliche like, oh yeah, you like go abroad, whatever. But I really wanted my abroad experience to be as natural as possible. I didn't want to go to an American school in a foreign country. I didn't want to go to a school where I knew I was going to be surrounded by other American college students. I really wanted to just like go abroad and experience like culture shock like head on. So I decided to go to fret university type in Amsterdam, like by myself. I didn't know, I didn't know it was. So when I got there, I literally like booked my flight a week before and just got on a plane and shipped myself off to Amsterdam knowing no one. And yeah, that was the time I really did take a risk. And what did you learn about yourself? Did learn that taking a risk is not only can I do it and I'm very capable um but like it just gave me that confidence that I can take risks in the future. And that taking risks actually is a good thing. And I have so many positive outcomes from doing it and I really have made some of my best friends um throughout the world just doing that experience. And so post grad, I'm a senior. So I'm graduating next at the end of the semester in like a month, which is terrifying. But I, I decided to take a job in South Korea, um, teaching English, which I never, I never would have done, had I not taken that risk to go to Amsterdam because it's like a similar situation where I don't know a soul there. I don't know a soul in Seoul. Um, but I, I don't know anyone there. I'm just going by myself to a country that's thousands of miles away, um, with a 13 hour time zone, like, and I'm ok with it and I'm excited for it and I'm, I'm not crying because of stress this time, but I'm really excited.

  • Betty's Story

    Betty's Story Betty talks about her gratitude and appreciation for the support she has received during hard times in her life. Scroll to listen Betty's Story 00:00 / 03:30 ​

  • Annabel's Story

    Annabel's Story Annabel, who recently uprooted her life in North Carolina and moved to Northampton, MA, discusses how she ended up living in the city and her close familial relationships that led her there. Scroll to Listen Annabel's Story 00:00 / 03:21 Stephanie: Speaking of Northampton, how did you even end up here? Like, how did you know this town? Because it is so small. Annabel: It is so small. I had been visiting here for a number of years because my daughter, who is a writer, and her husband is a publisher, they were living in Northampton and were - and Amherst and Northampton both have a huge community of writers. I ended up visiting frequently, and then 12 years ago, almost 13 years ago, they had a child who was born four months early. And she only weighed a pound and a half, and ended up having a lot of medical crises. She had a feeding tube and a trach. Stephanie: Oh, my God… Annabel: And, ended up spending four hundred and [sic] days in three different hospitals. Thank God she was in Massachusetts because she had some fabulous care here. Stephanie: Yeah. Annabel: She is doing really really well now. Um, and if you didn’t know, if you didn’t see the scar in her neck you wouldn’t know she had a trach. And, ironically, as a two year old, I had a trach… Stephanie: Oh… Annabel: Because of a really bad case of bronchial pneumonia, and ended up with a trach. So, we may be the only grandmother team… Stephanie: Yeah, that has… Annabel: that have the trach scars. Anyway, so I came up here a great deal while she was in the hospital - or, those 3 hospitals. And finally, I just thought, “I want to move there. I want to be near her,” so that was the reason I ended up here. And I’m so glad. I’m almost 75, and if you had told me I would make friends as good as any friends I’ve ever had I would not have believed it. So, I count my blessings that I ended up here. Stephanie: Yeah, that sounds really, that everything worked out, basically. Annabel: It did. It really did. Stephanie: Yeah. And was it hard making friends here? Annabel: I think at first, because I didn’t think that I could ever make friends like the ones I left behind, particularly back in North Carolina, I wasn’t reaching out. But finally, my daughter is best friends with another writer, whose mother moved here from California, and both of them kept saying “You’ll love each other if you get together!” and we instantly did. And then, I joined a church at the same time as another friend and we’ve become best friends. So I'm just amazed. I did not expect - I knew I would be happy here because of my daughter’s family. And there’s another family, they’re very close to me and I love them. I didn’t think I’d have peers as friends, but I do, and I’m so glad. Yeah.

  • Hellen's Story

    Hellen's Story Hellen describes the way her house represents Africa from the mustard-yellow color on the outside to the smell on the inside and the white lace sheets over the doors. Her parents incorporate many pieces of Kenya with them in their home in the US, and continue many traditions from their past. Scroll to listen Hellen's Story 00:00 / 03:42 ​

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