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  • Luke's Story

    < Back Luke's Story Luke shares a story about his uncle Peter who is a Carthuegen Monk in Slovenia. He talks about his personal relationship with Peter and how Peter inspires him in his own life. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 04:43 I’m discussing my uncle Peter who is a Carthuegen Monk in Slovenia, which is a very small country just on the northern tip of Italy, and he’s been there for probably about 30 years and he will be almost 70 now he's in his mid to late 60s. To give a little background I guess on the setting it’s a very beautiful place Slovenia and especially where he is. One of my uncles once said that Slovenia is Europe’s best kept secret. It’s got rolling hills, and lots of vineyards. It’s a very picturesque place. Speaking on my personal relationship with him, I’ve met him three times, but the last two are pretty impactful on me I would say. He’s a very interesting character and someone I do think I admire a great deal. I met him when I was 10. I went with my father and I don’t remember a lot from that trip because that was 12 years ago at this point, but I do know that after that trip took place we started writing to each other, and we kept a correspondence consistently for the last 12 years. Peter’s a really great guy, a very joyful guy. I think it’s interesting because his characteristics or his personality goes against what a lot of people would consider a Monk to have. He’s very energetic. He’s very joyful. He’s talkative. Perhaps some of that has to do with the fact that he seeing family and he doesn’t get a chance to do that very often, but it did surprise me meeting him last year, because there is so much energy and passion and just brightness about him that I wouldn’t necessarily had pictured a monk having. Most of the time we stayed in the guest house, and just shared meals together and shared stories, but we did on one day go out. We left the monastery, and we, went into one of the popular towns, sat by a river, which it seemed almost like a beach club. There were restaurants and canoes you could rent and things like that. So we did that, we had a great time, and then went and got food at McDonalds. He was really happy I think to get a taste of America in a long time. There are stories, he’s told us stories about being rebellious even as a monk and what he’s, I guess expected to do. You are not supposed to leave the monastery. They have a weekly walk that they take together, but beyond that, they are only supposed to leave to go to doctor’s appointments to dentist appointments or something that’s really mandatory that they have to leave the cloister for. But, he tends to break away a little more if he can. I don’t think what he does I could do. It’s a very specific vocation and it's a vocation that requires a lot of dedication. His entire being is in it. And he’s on another continent from the rest of his family and he’s been there for decades. And when my grandparents, both of his parents passed away he wasn’t able to come to their funerals. And when he passes away he will be buried in an unmarked grave within the monastery. So his belief and how strong his belief is, and what he gets from God is something that I’ve never seen from anyone else. But I can tell that it gives him a lot of strength, and I can tell that he is really called to do it. I guess you know there is a relation in this story, quite clearly to God and you know, what role that plays in everyone’s lives that's met him and what role that plays in his life. And I don’t know, it's interesting because I am 22 at this point, I haven’t necessarily found my way or found an answer in my own mind as to whether I believe in a higher being and what that might be, what religion might be “right”, and all of these different answers. But his devotion is very inspirational to me, and I find I pull a lot from it. I don’t know how to encapsulate my relationship with him and what he means, but I will say that I love him and I find him inspirational in a lot of senses. I’m excited to see him again at some point, hopefully in the near future. I’d like to go alone maybe the next time, I think that would be interesting and beneficial Previous Next

  • Sam's Story

    Sam's Story In this story, Sam discusses her passion for women's health through her own life experiences. Sam's college experience has allowed her to surround herself with groups of people who lift up and support one another. Scroll to Listen Sam's Story 00:00 / 02:57 Sam: I would consider myself the typical College student. I am currently pursuing a degree in public health with a focus on women's health. Based on my personal and family experiences, I have become a really strong advocate for women's health, and my mom was a big influence in that she raised me to always kind of put yourself forward and never take no for an answer. And my friends have also instilled that, and they've been an inspiration in my life. My mom was a big factor in influencing my decision to go into public health and women's health specifically. Sam: She has a reproductive condition called endometriosis, which I inherited from her. And she kind of always made sure that health comes first as physical and mental health before you do anything else, because if you can't be your best self, then you're not going to be of service or helping others. Joining a sorority in College, I found a really solid group of friends where women support one another. That's kind of like the core of our friendship is we're going to push each other to do our best and be our best selves. I specifically have probably four or five made friends where we all just like, go big or go home in our friendship. Sam: And that's been really inspiring and public health because I want to do good for them and support them as women as well, because I had only been in a class of maybe 15 my whole life. So my freshman year classes were 300 lectures, and I was very nervous that I would kind of get lost and fall behind in my academics, which are very important to me. But my mom reminded me to be an advocate for myself and use the voice that I have. I was able to push through and make it a home, really. In high school, I did a club called ModelUN, where it was like a mock trial debate team. Sam: And one of the projects that we did was really influential in my decision to go to public health. Also, we were talking about sanitation and refugees in developing countries. So when I got to College and I realized that I could do that for a major, I was like, oh, let's do this. This is so interesting and tied into women's health. I mean, I have a voice. I wanted to be able to use it for those who are afraid to or are able to. And that's really where I am now. That's what got me here.

  • Savannah's Story

    Savannah's Story Savannah speaks with Dennis about her experience living and working in Washington, DC the summer after her freshman year of college. Savannah discusses her determination to experience somewhere new, and how she was able to make it happen for herself. In her story, she touches on themes of loneliness, independence, family and friendship. Savannah reminds us that while independence is a virtue, we can all use some support to get where we're going. Scroll to listen Savannah's Story 00:00 / 03:57 So when I was looking at colleges, UMass was just sort of what made the most sense. But I also don't think it was expecting to have, I guess, the tough year that I did. I think UMass is a very big school. And it's an easy place to sort of get lost in. And I was really used to being at home in my hometown in my community that was so familiar. And I had a good group of friends and a good kind of support system. And I kind of went from that to go into this big place that was super vast, where no one's really keeping track of you or worrying about you. And I definitely felt lonely. So at the end of that year, I kind of knew that I had to do something different with my summer, I knew that I needed something that was a little bit more of a leap for me something that was challenging and new. And so I was like, okay, great, it's time to figure out how I'm going to spend the summer. So I ended up applying to an internship program in Washington, DC and spend two months of my summer living there is a really well set up program. And I think what draw me what drew me to it was it was pulling students from across the country around the world to which was really exciting to me. And I think the concept of the program gave me a little bit of the community that I knew I needed. And so once I kind of set my sights on that, at the end of my freshman year, that gave me a little bit of vigor, a little bit of excitement that I think I needed, then it was just time to kind of decide and figure out how I was going to make that happen for myself, I knew that this was going to be a good program, but I had to, like pay for the housing, I had to pay for some of the programming fee and things like that. My next kind of step was I have to find scholarships, I learned quickly that there's money floating around universities and floating around for a lot of the things that you want to do. People just tend to not know that those scholarships, those grants, those things are there. And so they don't look for them. So I made it my goal to find this funding to get me to DC. So that's what I did. I ended up applying to so many scholarships, writing so many essays, and all these different things. So I did get there, I always remember just like sitting on the plane and like taking a breath and being like, Wow, I can't believe I can, if I pull this together, it's amazing. And so from there it was, it was a really wonderful experience. I loved DC living there gave me kind of my first taste of like, what you would maybe call adult life. But I kind of got all I think the best parts of it. I think reflecting the important parts were the social parts and getting to be somewhere new and getting to kind of fulfill the plan that I had for myself, I think maybe twofold. I think I came back with some confidence. And I definitely learned that I had the ability to kind of dictate my environment and kind of get myself out of the funk that I was in, I think was really important. I can definitely see that I've grown in that way. I definitely hold on to that determination that I had and know that it's like still in me, how are you feeling about this next transition? And what do you see is coming next. So I've definitely been pretty stressed about my next transition. I think part of it is because this is something that I never would have, I think believed my freshman year but I have such a good and rich life here at UMass and in Amherst, that I think it feels intimidating to think about moving that somewhere new and even meeting new people. I think I am so kind of comfortable where I am. So I think making that transition is a little bit scary. But I also know that I have done it before when I went to DCA essentially picked myself up and moved to a new city for a couple months. And now it's just kind of doing the same thing, but for a little longer. And so I think I'm trying to harness that sort of can do attitude that I lose a little bit sometimes. And so I kind of try to take that from my summer, and I'm trying to kind of be hopeful and positive and excited. And I think that will serve me well.

  • Susan's Story

    Susan's Story Susan Martins (77) talks with a friend, Catherine Grella (21) about her travels to Italy and Israel in her early 20s, which she considers the highlight of her entire life. Scroll to listen Susan's Story 00:00 / 03:08 Well, I'd always wanted to travel and I always wanted to go to Italy, and I had $2,000, but this was in 1969, and $2,000 went a lot farther in those days. And I found a little pencion which was in a perfect location. It was a block from the Arno, but it was in a very great place. It was like the best place to be in Florence, and I just explored Florence while I was there. I had never really thought about going to Israel because while I was born Jewish, I really didn't know anything about Israel except while I was living there. I read a book by Bruno Bettelheim, a psychologist, and it was about the Kabutz system in Israel, and I found it fascinating. And I felt like I wanted to go there. And in about January, I guess, I went to Israel. This was weird. It was the middle of the night when the plane landed in the airport in Tel Aviv, and I was sitting there waiting because the shuttle buses didn't go in to tell of the evening till six or seven in the morning. So I was just sitting, waiting. This plane came in and this bunch of people got off the plane and they started bending down and kissing the street. And then they came into the airport. They couldn't believe that they were there, and they were kissing the floor in the airport. And it turned out that they were Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust. They were immigrating to Israel and they'd never been there before. And they walked in and to them it was coming home. At that time, I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I wanted to go to a Kabutz. And there's an office in Tel Aviv that sends volunteers from all over the world to volunteer on a Kabutz. And you work in the fields, or I worked in the laundry, ironing pants for months, but I also worked in the grapefruit fields, and I worked pruning plum trees at one point, and one point they assigned me this Kabutz, had a fruit stand on the road that the Kabutz was up the hill from. They put me there to work because a lot of tourists spoke English. Somebody said, are you Israeli? And I said, no, I'm American. And they said, you look as if you were born here. You look just like an Israeli, and it's wonderful to meet you. And I felt like I had come home, and I felt as if it was my country. That was the weird thing that I had never thought about Israel. I didn't really feel like a Jewish person, but I felt as if that was where I was from and it was really power.

  • Naomi's Story

    < Back Naomi's Story Naomi talks about her experiences growing up and about how these experiences shaped her approach to parenting and helped her understand what she truly values in her relationships. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:16 ​ Previous Next

  • Julia's Story

    Julia's Story Julia reflects on what her life might look like in sixty years. She explains her values and emphasis on how she strives to be someone her family and others can lean on. Scroll to Listen Julia's Story 00:00 / 03:43 Jonathan: “When somebody says to you ‘in 50 or 60 years you will be in your late 70s’ and let’s assume that you're moderately healthy, what comes to your head?” Julia: “So trying to look into the future like that, I say what first comes to mind is thinking about my family. Um, I have an older sister who right now is 24 so 60 years from now, she’ll be 84. And then I have two younger brothers, one who is about to be 18 so he’ll be 78 from now. Then I have a youngest brother who just turned 14 so he’ll be 74 but I hope that 60 years from now we’re all still close together–I hope we’re all still around. But um, I see family being a big part of my life. I always love looking forward to going home. I’m from Eastern, Mass. so if I want to spend a weekend back home I have that ability to just drive back. Um, I hope that that’s the kind of relationship that I have 60 years from now. I hope that I’m able to still hold onto that connection with my siblings.” Jonathan: “Do you think that this family relationship is equally as important to your brothers and sister? Do you think they would say the same?” Julia: “I hope they would say the same! Um, I’m not positive I mean my older sister–she is very–she heavily prioritizes relationships with people so outside of family she is very much so always putting herself out and trying to stay connected with her friends from highschool and from college. On the contrary, I’d say I’m the opposite of her. I like having friends and I love knowing people but also I’ve always been a busy person and I’m okay with doing my own thing and if I know people and have people to hang out with that’s great but if not, I’m still okay with continuing to be individual. I think I will continue to keep a strong relationship with my siblings and if I have a spouse, them–being able to keep a strong relationship with them and their family ‘cause I love having big get-togethers and catching up with people. And I value the relationship with a few people as long as it's a strong one and genuine.” Jonathan: “Assuming that–maybe it’s the wrong assumption–but assuming for the moment that your partner/you’re married or whatever in 50 or 60 years, how important is it that that person be close to your siblings?” Julia: “Um, I think it’s pretty important. I mean, right now I’m in a relationship and I don’t know what 60 years will look like but I’ve been in a relationship for almost 3 years and I value being very close with his family and they are people that I’m very close with and I wanna have a really close relationship and be someone that they can turn to if they need anything!”

  • Sharon's Story

    < Back Sharon's Story Sharon shares about the influence that her hardworking, loving grandmother had on her and how this influence guided her to be the person she is today. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:08 Some of the places that we went to, as I say we have traveled around the world, and you realize when you travel that while the architecture and the historic aspects are interesting, it’s the people who make the difference. We’d always try and somehow connect with 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 are there it isn’t really illuminated, and so the people flesh out the sense you have of the culture. Previous Next

  • Marci's Story

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

  • Leslie's Story

    Leslie's Story In this clip, Leslie shares her passion for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities with a specific focus on young children and families. Scroll to Listen Leslie's Story 00:00 / 04:07 Leslie: So my passion has been improving the quality of life for people with disabilities with a particular focus on young children and families in my professional roles. When I was a teenager, I became interested in what we called at the time, “mental retardation”, today known as “cognitive impairment” or “developmental disabilities”. One of my first professional jobs was working in a grant funded program for visually impaired children and adults in a state institution. I was fortunate to be part of the movement in the 1970s to expose the abuses of these institutions and improve the conditions as a result of state and federal lawsuits with subsequent funding. Leslie: As we developed this new program and learned about the ravages of trauma and deprivation of institutional life on those children and adults, we understood that we needed to develop relationships with many other staff. Including those in direct care roles who had been there for generations and were wary of so many new young professionals. When I left that position a few years later, I knew I had learned a lot understood, that I had cultivated some good advocacy skills and appreciated that teamwork was a very powerful approach for effective change. Working in that state institution was a jarring and humbling experience. When I left the position, I was aware that many of the people I had worked with had no one to advocate for them. Leslie: I subsequently became a legal guardian for a woman, Diana. She had been born in the institution to her mother, another resident, who had been abused and suffered from syphilis. Subsequently, Diana was deaf limited vision in one eye. I was able to use my knowledge and relationships with staff to improve the quality of Diana's life, first in the institution, later in a group home. Leslie: In contrast to my first position at the institution, I was honored to be part of the progressive approach to including these children and their communities and supporting parents in providing for their child's needs. Service delivery was based on interdisciplinary teamwork, including parents, educators, nurses, social workers and speech occupational and physical therapists. Our philosophy had that parents and families were the most important members of that team and without their investment, we professionals would not succeed. I often tell the story of one of my first home visits with Bonnie, our team nurse. I remember sitting on the floor observing and interacting with the baby while Bonnie was sitting on the couch talking with the mother. Initially, I was annoyed that Bonnie wasn't assessing the child's needs, but quickly recognized that the conversation and relationship with the mother was the most important part of the visit. Leslie: When I moved into an administrative position in the public schools in the early 2000s, I worked collaboratively with guidance counselors in the high schools for students with disabilities could have more equal access to academics and extracurricular activities. In these public schools I thoroughly enjoyed my role as a team leader, facilitating meetings with parents and staff to create appropriate educational programs for each student. Leslie: The teamwork during my early intervention years and some relationships built at that time remained today. There have been several reunions over the years. We rallied over Zoom during the beginning of the pandemic to honor our colleague, Bonnie, who had passed away and had been a mentor for many of us. We recently had a physical reunion just a couple of months ago, about a dozen women, some from out of state. In addition to discussing everyone's current activities and families, the conversation always comes back to what great work we did in those early years and how important that teamwork was to our success.

  • In the News | Our Stories

    In the News Our project has been featured in several news articles and videos. Check them out below! New England Public News Feature Dr. Gloria DiFulvio, as well as two participants in the project, Hellen Muma and Johnathan Daube, were featured on New England Public Media's "Connecting Point" to discuss their experience. Dr. DiFulvio also discusses the goals of the project, and what it was like to partner with Northampton Neighbors for this intergenerational storytelling endeavor. Experiential Learning Builds Connection Across Generations - UMass Amherst Feature The course, titled "The Epidemic of Loneliness: On Connection, Belonging, and Public Health," was also featured on the UMass Amherst website. Several other participants were interviewed for the piece and asked about their experiences. Tell Me a Story: Building Connections Across Generations Dr. Gloria DiFulvio was featured on the Northampton Neighbors Speakers Series to discuss the Epidemic of Loneliness course and lessons learned about the meaning of connection over the course of the project. This College Class is Bringing Generations Together To Reduce Loneliness - CoGenerate Feature This piece features participants in the project, Liya Liang and Nina Kleinberg, who discussed what the storytelling project and the course "The Epidemic of Loneliness: On Connection, Belonging, and Public Health" have taught them.

  • Owen's Story

    < Back Owen's Story Owen discusses how he went to college during the Vietnam War and what he learned from not only the education and the professors but also the people he attended the university with. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:11 When I was 19, approximately, there was something going on called the Vietnam War and you probably studied it in ancient history or something like that, but for those of us who didn't really want to get out there and get shot at we had to find ways to not do that. And we also didn’t believe that war was necessary. So I was a part of a group of people, there were many many of us, who said no this was not a good idea, and the only way I could stay out was to go to college. So I went to college. Another thing that was big in my life is when I went into college was meeting different people from different parts of the world and more so different parts of the country but I did meet a few people from outside the US. And some people have big influences on you, some people have small influences on you and some people you just dont understand. Part of the not understanding is you just have to learn to accept people as they are. I would say the majority of kids that I was in classes with were white from middle class suburban cities around, middle class suburbs from large cities around the country. I went to school in St. Louis and I came from a suburb around Washington DC. There were so many people from so many other places that were similar to me, then I got to meet people who were different to me. I remember, one young woman came from Hawaii and she was native Hawaiian and that was cool. I had never met anyone from Hawaii before. One day it snowed, and she ran outside and she went absolutely berzerc running in between the snowflakes because she had read about it, seen it in movies, but she had never experienced snow before. And I thought, “Okay, this is cool.” You know, just trying to understand someone's frame of mind, especially when you grow up with snow. You know its like what's this snow. And this is like a life changing event for her. And I thought Okay, that’s cool. It is to be able to do that and not to judge someone based on things like that. And I grew up in a society where alot of people were not accepted as they were. Alot of minorities were looked down upon and legally discriminated against. You know that sort of has gone away but not entirely. There was no such thing as people who were openly gay, that just didn’t happen during that period of time. People did not date interracially. You know you never saw a white woman with ablack guy. It just didnt happen. So when you start meeting people that are different and meeting people that are a little outside your realm of experience you learn about them and learn to accept them. That was a huge thing for me. To transition from living with stereotypes which are reinforced by things like TV shows to getting to know people and understanding who the people were. And understanding a person as a person, not just put into a category- a stereotype. Part of going to school was that piece of education. Previous Next

  • Tony's Story

    < Back Tony's Story Tony reflects on his working relationship with the reknowned American storyteller Studs Terkel. Studs was best known for his oral history books, in which he interviewed ordinary people about their lives and experiences. Tony worked closely with Studs and provides great insight on how important their work was. Everybody has a story to tell- Tony and Studs were instrumental in documenting these stories for decades. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 18:07 Thinking about and talking about stories, just makes me remember so well the great storyteller Studs Turkle who was born in 1912. Who spoke with hundreds of people, all over the country, about their lives, these conversations he was always uncomfortable with the notion of an interview, he liked to think of it as a conversation. Studs had a radio program on WFMT in Chicago for 40 years, but before that there was a program heard on public radio stations around the country, when public radio was just finding his legs. I heard him in Boston, and I thought I’d like to know this man; I worked in the radio business, and I was able to persuade somebody in Chicago to talk to me about working at WFMT so that is how I got to meet Studs. I was in a large part moved and interested in Chicago because of hearing him and his remarkable way of talking with people of all kinds. He was very very clever; Studs were very clever. He had people to realize that this was a friendly event, and they needn't be shy or intimidated by it, he was genuinely interested in what they had to say and that’s why in the end he had such successful conversations because people knew he was honestly interested in who they were and how they lived their lives. And he had funny little techniques pretending that he couldn’t get the tape recorder to work and getting them involved in helping get the tape started which meant that they were more equals than someone getting interviewed by an interviewer they were participants. I was lucky because I helped Studs and worked with him over a couple of decades and would often be invited to go along as he would see people around the country. Like a lot of men in his generation who grew up in cities, he never learned to drive a car, so if I had no other importance at least I could drive. I was lucky to be able to participate in this and so it’s a pleasure for me to be able to talk about Studs. Those experiences also made for stories because I then had stories to tell about the experience of being at the side of a master recorder of American and as you say Worldwide voices. The books that result from Studs interviews, his conversations are extraordinary and probably not being read as much as they once were, and that’s a shame. Previous Next

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