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  • Rene's Story

    < Back Rene's Story Rene explains how she feels being the eldest sister of her siblings. She talks through how an experience with her brother brought their relationship together. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:59 So my first question is what was your role as the eldest self out eldest sister? Well, I'm the oldest of four. And let's see, I have a sister who's two and a half younger, two and a half years, three years younger than I am. And then another. I had a brother and a sister seven years younger than I am. So we were the girls and twins. That's what we refer to as we were growing up. It was wonderful. It's really a position of privilege. And it's also burden. It was also burdensome. I was a lot was expected of me in terms of helping my mom take care of the other three, she was a woman who was viewed as sickly, and I was capable, and I was smart. And I was willing, because I just wanted those parents to walk me into an audit to get me what I wanted to care those kids in January of 2019, my brother, her twin died, my brother died, he had cancer. And for the last three months of his life, the three sisters we're very close family, almost too close. Sometimes we were almost too close sometimes. My three sisters and I went to Florida and took care of him in his in his medical needs were complicated. And three of us just took on what we were best at. My sister Joanne, the youngest one, his twin is good at organizing shows, she would organize things. And everything was very organized. The medications were organized, our schedules were organized. My sister Marina who loves loves, loves animals. She's such a tender hearted woman. Well, my brother had 180 pound English master. And the dog ate only raw food because my brother was very fussy about what his dogs eat. And Marina, we prepare my sister is two and a half years younger, she would really take care of moose ducks name was moose. And she would feed him and make sure he was water bowls. I mean, Moose was a lot of work. It was like having another child and did things that were more around the emotional caretaking of my brother and made sure that every time he left his bed and came out into the main area, and he had this television screen, which was like, like a sports bar television screen, it was huge. And he would come and sit on the couch and blare it out. And I made sure that every time he came out and sat down, loose was on one side of him in a sister, any one of us, no matter what was going on, one of us had to be sitting next to him, like holding his hand or leaning up against what I leaned up against him. I really wanted him to feel and know our presence and our love was very, very moving. It was such a gift to be with him at the end such a gift and in many ways it both is in a funny way it bonded us the three sisters. It bonded us in a way nothing else could have done. And it also gave us some freedom from each other because I grew up in this enmeshed family, family that just to leave the family was felt like sometimes an act of betrayal to go to college felt for me like an act of betrayal. Somehow after Mark step, having had this very intense experience. We found our freedom to be more of who we were, as individuals. Previous Next

  • Gail's Story

    Gail's Story Gail, an elementary school teacher, talks about how her sister impacted her life and encouraged her to advocate for children with disabilities in her classroom and beyond. Scroll to listen Gail's Story 00:00 / 03:55 I was very alone when I was with my sister as she grew up because when I went somewhere with her I felt very vulnerable when I would get stares from other people not knowing what they were thinking and so it was very difficult and she could not speak for herself I endured many negative comments you know I didnt know how to speak to people about her so I just kept everything to myself well in my career I started to realize how much she was discriminate against and I wanted to change that in my classroom In a classroom its easy for children to single out someone else if thye are different I didnt want that to happen so what I did was I if someone was coming to my classroom who had a disability I asked at the meeting that when I was told that someone would be coming I aksed that the person, the chld who was going to come to my room not come for a week so I could trian my class we met my class and we talked about what do you do if this person is out on the playground and does something to you that you dont like how do you handle it what do you do if you want to come in and you are really upset with him we talked about how to come to me to tell me about thei problems with this other person and then we would have a meeting to discuss how they could handle it and learn to accept this person at the end of the year a mother of a disabled child invited my class to go to the birthday party and every single child went I was very proud of it and then another thing that happened that I could tell people were understanding was that I met one of my students who was going to UMass I asked him what he was going to be what he was majoring in and he said special education and I congratulated hima nd he siad it was you you were the one that got me interested and I felt so good about it so ya know it carried into my teaching career and I also oh one word that I wanted to have him relaize kindness those people everybody desrevs kindness not just them so I really was firm about ya know how you have to be kind to everybody even if there's something you don't like about that person you know come in and talk to me about it and we can see what we can do I want to well I started to speak out more because I’ve kept things about my sister inside and I feel like its more than time to speak out and also a way to advocate to others you know so that when others pass someone on the street who is disable no matter what their disability is they don't stare and make the people who are wit them feel embarrassed they see them as someone who was born the way they were there's a lot of positive about them an to say hello that I think just to be kind say hello and let these people know they are accepted

  • Catherine's Story

    Catherine's Story Catherine Grella (21) talks with a friend, Susan Martins (77) about her close relationship with her two sisters, her childhood, and the family dynamics that have shaped her into the woman that she is today. Scroll to listen Catherine's Story 00:00 / 04:51 The order of the siblings is that Abby is the firstborn. She is about two and a half years older than me, and then I am next. And then Sophia is my younger sister, and then my younger brother is Ben. Sofia is about two and a half years younger than me, too. So the spacing between us is like, pretty equal, which is good because it's so we've met us so close, and he's the only boy. Sophie and I did gymnastics together. I remember I told you about that. And sometimes we trained so hard at such a young age. We were so fascinated by gymnastics that we would go probably 13 to 15 hours a week. And when you're like nine or ten, that's a lot of commitment. Like, think a young gymnast body going 13 to 15 hours a week in training and running and doing strength and conditioning. And it built our bodies to be very strong, which is something I'm thankful for. But in a way, it took away part of our childhood because we didn't get to see friends as much. And we really became so close, and we became each other's best friends because of all that time we would spend in the gym together. But the one thing that I wanted to say was that when Sophie and I were younger, although we would go to gymnastics super late into the night, I think it was like we'd be getting out around 845, so we wouldn't be getting home until nine. And my whole entire family would wake up at 09:00 so that we could have family dinner every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. My poor father must have been so hungry by 09:00 Wednesday, Friday. But they did it because they loved us, and they did it because they thought that that was important for us to eat together. I'm really happy that they did that. And in so many of the ways that they made these accommodations in my life growing up, are ways that I want to incorporate into my own family when I have it, because they're really special. If you were to leave this interview for someone like, who would you leave it for? I would definitely leave this for my parents and just in honor of them and all they've done, in away, my mom and my dad always wanted to give us the things that they didn't have growing up. So my dad, when he was 40, he had to take up music lessons all by himself and learn how to play the guitar and learn how to play the piano. And he's so fantastic at it. He has that creative brain where he can hear a song on the radio and just play the chords on the piano. And it's so amazing. But that was all taught to him by himself. And he just thinks, how good could I have been if I was given this when I was young? So that was the philosophy he adopted when he enrolled us on piano lessons when we were in kindergarten, and they just never wanted to have any doubts of what our abilities could have been if we weren't given those tools. And I'm so thankful for that because I don't thank them enough, and I really, really should, but I should just sit down one day and say, thank you for always giving us all of the tools that you wanted us to have to be great in life and to find out what we loved. Even Sophie and Ben didn't stick with piano, but at least they were given that tool to explore. And the same thing with sports. I'm so thankful that there was never a sport that I brought up to my parents, and they turned it down and they said, no, you can't do soccer. You can't do this; you can't do that. They were always so willing to be accepting our interests and accommodate them in any way that they could and help us, and that was something so special. Of course, I leave this interview for my siblings too, for them to know all the ways that they impacted me in my life and will continue to impact me in my life. But a lot of it is for my parents too, because it's only when you get older that you really appreciate all of the ways to which they were such good parents. And at college, it's sad, but I think it's there were so many things about my childhood that I took for granted. And it's only when you're at college and you're not surrounded by your immediate family anymore that you realize the things that you miss.

  • Rebecca's Story

    Rebecca's Story Rebecca discusses the lasting influence of joining Science Olympiad in middle school on her relationships, as well as the way that it has shaped her goals and life to this day. Scroll to Listen Rebecca's Story 00:00 / 03:44 I just joined it initially because I wanted something to do, an extracurricular, and when I was in middle school we only had flag football or Science Olympiad. So, for me it was a pretty obvious choice, and I got put just at random in an event called “Disease Detectives” which is just very, very basic epidemiology. So the first time I did a practice exam it was on asthma prevalence in a school where the school was right next to a factory and you had to figure out what was causing high asthma prevalence. It sort of felt like it was solving puzzle, even though we were literally taking an exam. At the end, I just felt so cool—I just thought it was so cool that I could assemble all this evidence and present at the end: this is what happened, this is how it happened. I think it's something that has carried me even now to studying public health because that’s the reason that I chose to study public health is that I wanted to learn more about epidemiology, and I wanted to become a disease detective—as dorky as that may sound. One of my coaches, Senila, who just every single day would just push me, and at first I think she was someone who really scared me because she was so dedicated to her own academics. But, you know, I think her strictness had a love behind it too and so she really just—she inspired me to see what was possible in my future, and she showed me how to do it so I really have eternal gratitude for her for being such a positive influence in my life. A real beauty of Olympiad is that it really does inspire kids to go out into the world and do science. When it became my turn to coach later, I think my excitement and passion for it helped inspire kids to also feel passionate for it. I remember the first year I got, the coaches, got bowling shirts instead of normal t-shirts, and I remember the first time I had my name embroidered on the sleeve it just felt so, so cool. ​One of the, I think proudest moments of my life was, I worked with this one girl in the club almost every and we became really good friends honestly, and on the day of our actual competition her parents came up to me—and I had never met them before—and they asked me if I was Rebecca. And I said, yes, and they said, our daughter always talks about you. You’ve made her care so much about science and she really, really likes you. It's so important I think to teach people how to learn outside of the context of school. I think Science Olympiad was really, for me, it was that and for many of peers it was too. Really, it taught me to, you know, even if you’re not one hundred percent enthusiastic about something to try it because you honestly never know where it's going to take you. Because I didn’t really want to do Science Olympiad at the start and now it has truly shaped my whole young adult life.

  • 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

  • McKenna's Story

    McKenna's Story McKenna describes her love of gymnastics in this story. The lessons it taught her and the people she met along the way are invaluable to her, and she will carry these lessons with her throughout the rest of her life. Scroll to Listen McKenna's Story 00:00 / 03:21 McKenna: The reason that my mother put myself and my two younger siblings in gymnastics, um, was because my younger brother, who is three years younger than me, he always used to stand on his head in his car seat, um, like, as my mom would buckle everybody in. My siblings are twins, so getting everybody in the car was an ordeal because she didn't have enough hands to possibly buckle everyone in at once. And my brother would always slip on to his head in his booster seat and hold himself up there, and kind of swing around. And there were a couple close calls of him, you know, making some choices that maybe weren’t the safest for him. My mom put us into gymnastics, because she thought, you know, that this would be a safe place for them to learn how to be monkeys and not get hurt. Uh, and maybe not to put themselves in a headstand in the car seat. My brother, after - he did gymnastics only for a few years with us in the very beginning, and he quickly decided that that wasn't for him. And my mom for the most part was our chauffeur, here, there, and everywhere for gymnastics, um, although they both always made a point - sometimes, my sister and I had different meets, and we’d be in different places, so they would have to separate out for those meets. I think that, as I got older, a lot of my friends stopped doing it competitively, so I was - at one point I was like the oldest girl in the gym, other than one other girl who is a year younger than me by, like, a landslide. And, so. At that point in time - I don't know. I felt a little disconnected from my peers in that moment, but. Gymnastics is very physically demanding and, I mean, I dislocated my hip when I was thirteen and I tore some tendons in my ankle at 17. And there were days that I - there were 100% days where I was like, “Why am I doing this? Why am I here? I could be with my friends, I could be doing this,” whatever that could be might have been. “Why am I here?” and I think the life lesson from pushing through those days, and looking back on it now, the character I have for that, and the grit that I learned to say, “Okay, I made this commitment.” Some of my very greatest life lessons-and I constantly reflect back on things I learned from doing gymnastics-as like, you know, okay, back up and take a breather and we approach the situation as like, life skills as opposed to just physical sports skills. I learned a lot from gymnastics in the physical sense but most in the, like emotional and mental well-being and awareness sense. That I, I think I was ready to part ways. I felt like I had, I had learned what I could as a person. And sure, I could have kept going and learned new skills, and sure, I could have, if I really wanted to, have gone further with it but I just, I came to a point that I knew my body was not gonna be able to keep going. But, gymnastics was the first place that had an understanding that family could be more than just blood related. You come to college and you kind of have your home away from home or your home in a person more so than a place kind of thing and I learned that from gymnastics.

  • Liam's Story

    Liam's Story Liam talks about a scene in the movie Tampopo and discusses the differences in how people consume media and how media can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. Scroll to listen Liam's Story 00:00 / 03:22 0:00 I am going to talk about a specific scene in a specific movie that is now over 30 years old. But that means a lot to me. The movie is called Tampopo. The director is juzo Itami. The scene I want to talk about is about a family. We are introduced to the first member of the story, as we see a man running past the end of one of the stories that we've just seen. And we see him run down the street, we see him run along the train track, he runs up his stairs, and he gets to what we assume to be the door of his house bulldozes in and we see in his house, there are three children, a man, we suppose is a doctor and a woman who we suppose is a nurse. Lastly, there is also a woman lying on a makeshift bed or roll on the ground, he runs in and by his tone, we can tell that the woman is sick, and that she perhaps has been for a long time he runs over to her and he says, stay with me, you can't die. And he says do something, sing do anything. And he hits the floor and he says don't make dinner. And the woman slowly rises and gets up and walks over to the kitchen. Kind of absent mindedly grabbing a knife and some spring onions. And she cuts them up, puts them in a pan puts other things and we see the family viewing this and we see the children because they know what to do have already gotten their bowls and have moved to the table we see the older sister setting things out for her youngest sibling, the mother or then comes back with this steaming bowl of food places on a table. And we see all of the hands come in and start serving themselves. However we see the mother first serve the youngest child. After that, they all start eating and the husband looks up and says it's really good. It's delicious. And we see her smile. She slowly falls over. And the doctor pronounces her dead. The oldest daughter screams and comforts her youngest sibling, the father yells essentially Eat it while it's hot. This is the last meal that your mother made for you. 2:22 And we see the middle child, the boy kind of watching his father and doing the same thing. And then the scene cuts out. And it's over. And it's three minutes. I think a lot of the scenes kind of just pass by and spectacle. And so because of that the more intimate and caring scenes really stick out because you're kind of forced to sit with it and sit with what you've just watched. It's It's interesting how we consume media, and how we all come at it from our own different little lens. But for me, I think the scene that I described sticks out a lot because, you know, I think we're all able to see different parts of us in film. And it's interesting, because I think I relate pretty heavily to the characters in this scene specifically, my mom is still alive. You know, she's had different illnesses and different things that have kind of made this film stick out. This is one of the only scenes in a film that's ever I think really made me emotional.

  • Fall 2022 Saddaf's Story

    Fall 2022 Stories If you'd like to listen to a story, click the "Listen" button. Saddaf's Story Saddaf talks about the role religion played in her life growing up and now, discovering it for herself, she talks about how she struggles with it in college. She touches upon navigating two identities being a first-generation Pakistani Muslim American. Listen Eileen's Story Eileen discusses gender roles present in her childhood in the 1950s and how it caused her to choose her career in teaching. She then goes on to talk about how she was able to be successful in her career choice. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Jesse's Story Jesse talks with Lauren about being wrongfully accused and sent to prison. He shares the lessons he learned during that difficult time. Listen Caroline's Story Story Coming Soon! Listen Pat's Story Pat speaks about her journey in Little Falls, Minnesota. Here, she went on a profound healing journey and learned the power of forgiveness. While in Little Falls she met a special friend who showed her what she had been longing for. Listen Dennis' Story After the Vietnam War and having to put his future plans on pause, Dennis found himself in the city of Boston, not New York, working in education, not pursuing his studies at law school and gaining confidence all along the way. Listen 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. Listen Taylor's Story Taylor talks about transitioning into UMass as a transfer student and finding her passion for Public Health. She found that public health captures all the things she loves including caring for others. Listen Rachel's Story Rachel discusses feeling like she didn’t belong in her hometown community or as she transitioned to college.She talks about her social anxiety and reflects on what it was like to break free from this. She wants people to pay attention to college students’ mental health. Listen Djenabou's Story Djenabou talks with Rene about her family. She shares her exceptional relationship that she has with her sister. Listen Raluca's Story Raluca’s family immigrated to America when she was 6 years old. At first, she didn’t fully understand or appreciate her family background or Romanian culture. Most of all, she disliked her name and wanted nothing more but to change it one day. She grew up embarrassed about who she was–but after going back to her country for the first time again at 16 years old, everything changed. Listen Stefanie's Story Stefanie discusses how COVID-19 affected her college experience as a student athlete. As well as the impact that quarantine had on her social life as an incoming college student. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Rene's Story Rene explains how she feels being the eldest sister of her siblings. She talks through how an experience with her brother brought their relationship together. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Vicki's Story Vicki talks about how her parent's decision to move from Long Island to Western Massachusetts when she was a senior in high school and how it impacted her life and her future trajectory. Listen Robert's Story Robert talks to Honor about his experiences living in a commune and how it saved him from serving in the Vietnam war. He explains how his faith and trust in a higher power guided him to conquer this fear, and continues to support him to this day. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Chad's Story Chad discusses his struggles in elementary school with learning disabilities and how it led him to the development of Sudbury Valley Schools and to the career path of community development. Chad talks about how important being a part of a community is, and how important it is to feel heard and respected in a group. Listen Bert's Story Bert speaks about her life journey and how not everything went as she planned. She talks about her adventures with her husband and kids and how she found her way to her career as a Speech Language Pathologist and how that career changed her view on life. Listen Talia's Story Talia talks to Charlie about her experience of studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She speaks about how she chose Florence as her host city. She tells us how studying abroad in Florence changed her and furthered her desire to travel the world. Listen Juli's Story Juli speaks with Jacqueline about her time at summer camp as a kid. At this camp, Juli met someone who didn’t fit in. But Juli learned how a little kindness could go a long way. Listen Ali's Story Ali speaks to Joan about her journey of being adopted. She talks about her mom and her sister and how they became a family. She speaks on how knowing a brief background of her biological family gives her some comfort. Listen 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. Listen Abby's Story Abby talks about her adventures while traveling. She talks about her experience studying abroad and traveling as a young kid and how that shaped her into the person she is. Listen

  • Aidan's Story

    Aidan's Story Aidan talks with Barbara about his family heritage and shares the meaning of his tattoos and their connection to his family. Scroll to listen Aidan's Story 00:00 / 05:00 ​

  • Spring 2022 Stories

    Spring 2022 Stories If you'd like to listen to a story, click the "Listen" button. Aidan's Story Aidan talks with Barbara about his family heritage and shares the meaning of his tattoos and their connection to his family. Listen Amy's Story Amy shares about moving from NYC to Philadelphia as a young girl. During this time, she learned some of the hard lessons about hatred and what it means to stand out. She also learned that some of her closets friends are the ones who have the most differences between them. Listen Barbara L's Story Barbara discusses the important friendships that she has maintained in her life, and how over a lifetime of working in film and theatre, she has maintained these relationships while also achieving her dreams of working on set. Listen Barbara S's Story Barbara shares her story of becoming the owner of a bookstore, specializing in antique books. She shares memories from these years including her knowledge of books. Listen Bert's Story Roberta Liebman shares with Alisson Aleman the remarkable role that neighborhood organizations have played in some of the most significant moments of her life. They have provided her and her family with support and companionship through some of the most challenging moments. Listen Betty's Story Betty talks about her gratitude and appreciation for the support she has received during hard times in her life. Listen Marci's Story ​ Listen Camille's Story Camille details her relationship with her siblings and the importance that they play in her life and how they have helped her get through her toughest challenges. Listen Catherine's Story Catherine Grella (21) talks with a friend, Susan Martins (77) about her close relationship with her two sisters, her childhood, and the family dynamics that have shaped her into the woman that she is today. Listen Dennis's Story In his story, Dennis Bidwell guides us through his harrowing journey applying for Conscientious Objector (CO) Status during the Vietnam War. Dennis reflect on his coming of age, the culture of the 1960's and 70's, and his experience writing "the most important essay of [his] life" Listen Edie's Story Edie Kirk shares stories with Elise Boehm about her mother. She starts off by talking about her family’s background and her mother growing up. She then shares a story about how her mother became a nurse and shares other stories that show why she admires her mother so much. Listen Elise's Story Elise Boehm talks to Edie Kirk about her decision to study abroad in Cuba and what it was like once she got there. She shares stories about where she went and what she did but also how the people there made her feel more confident speaking Spanish. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen MJ's Story In this interview, Mary Jo discusses her experience with assistive technology like a cochlear impact and electronic captioning. She describes her journey and how sudden hearing loss has influenced her as an individual, her relationships and her outlook on life. She leaves us with a powerful message about the importance of advocating for ourselves and others. Listen Mary's Story Mary Young describes, in an interview with Hellen Muma, the cast-off treasures she discovered as a kid—and how those experiences turned her into a life-long collector. She shares a lesson learned from Louis Armstrong’s white handkerchief and remembers a great-aunt who influenced her with the gift of a corrugated gift box. Listen Marylou's Story Marylou Davis (76) talks with her granddaughter, Abigail Horan (21) about the pivotal moments in her life which sculpted the path to the life she has today. In the interview, Marylou discusses how moving from Florida back to Massachusetts where she originally lived was a tough decision, but ultimately worked out in the end because of the relationships she fostered once arriving back. Listen Ngozi's Story Ngozi Okeke talks to Tamar Shadur about traveling to Nigeria, dad's special pancakes, and how she would like to be remembered Listen 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. Listen Liya's Story Liya Liang speaks with Nina Kleinberg about her experiences attending a preparatory boarding school and leaving all she knew behind. The two discuss the effects that it had on her life reflecting on the aspects of race, class, and socioeconomic status had on her experience during her four years. Listen 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 Listen Samantha's Story Samantha talks about her childhood and her appreciation for her Jewish heritage and her understanding of her family history and how it shaped her experiences through life and helped her to face her toughest challenges. Listen Sasha's Story Sasha talks about her relationship with her Aunt and how she inspired her to be strong, powerful, and resilient and to appreciate the values that they share. Listen 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. Listen Selena's Story Selena speaks with Jonathan about what it’s like to be living with a family whose views are very different from your own during a global pandemic. Listen 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. Listen Grazy's Story Grazy discusses how her family's immigration to the United States impacted her upbringing and her values and experiences in the U.S. Listen Sean's Story Sean talks to his match about the differences between them and their values caused by the differences in their cultures and generations. He also discusses the impact of American values and how media and modern technology play a role in individualism. Listen Katherine's Story Katherine talks about her family heritage and values and how that impacted her views on the world. She discusses how her upbringing and playing music with her siblings brings them closer together. Katherine also details how the values that she was raised with are still instilled in her and are instilled in her children as well. Listen Gail's Story Gail, an elementary school teacher, talks about how her sister impacted her life and encouraged her to advocate for children with disabilities in her classroom and beyond. Listen Sofie's Story Sofie talks about her experience being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 12 and how it affected her and her family. She discusses how it inspired her to pursue her future career and the importance of empathy in the medical field. Listen Liam's Story Liam talks about a scene in the movie Tampopo and discusses the differences in how people consume media and how media can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. Listen Susy's Story Susy talks about her want for a child and how it led her to her experience with international adoption in Peru as a single woman. She discussed the impact of negative cultural views on adoption and how it impacted her experience as a parent. She then discusses the importance of belonging and the need for people to share their stories. Listen 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. Listen Tamar's Story Tamar Shadur talks to Ngozi Okeke about how she would like to be remembered through the different ways in which she lived her life. She discusses her artistic passion for tapestry weaving and how it became a lifelong career. She was able to emphasize the different themes that have come out in her work and how she and her Mother have worked together to produce meaningful pieces. Listen

  • Stefanie's Story

    < Back Stefanie's Story Stefanie discusses how COVID-19 affected her college experience as a student athlete. As well as the impact that quarantine had on her social life as an incoming college student. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:14 I think like as a person, I’ve grown a lot socially since I’ve been at college. I know COVID, when COVID happened and everybody was in quarantine it was like, I didn’t really see that many people. I only saw my family like my mom, my dad, and my sister and like occasionally my friends but like my parents were really stuck on no seeing anybody like during COVID. So I kind of like lost all my socialness, I guess, like all my abilities to be like social so I kind of had to relearn that when I came back here, or when I came to college. So I mean it was a struggle just getting into like this new world of like everything is so social. Especially, like in college, like everybody goes out and stuff like that, everybody goes to parties, and like everything is just super social with your friends. So, I just kind of had to learn how to change from COVID and not seeing anybody to seeing like hundreds of people a day like in my classes and stuff like that. So like last year, I was a freshman and well I graduated high school early, I came to college early. But it was still COVID and so we had all of our classes online, everybody was on Zoom so you weren’t really able to make friends and really my only friends were on my team. So then last year, it was the like first time that like everybody had been back into full classrooms and stuff like that and everybody is just trying to get into the flow of it again everybody’s like relearning everything that they lost like during COVID. And last year was especially difficult for me because I was trying to like extend and make like friends off the team and stuff like that and create like connections off of like my team or outside of my comfort zone but it was just super hard because it was everybody is so used to who they already talk to. But I think this year especially, I moved in with some people on the soccer team, so I’ve been able to like branch out and make connections with like them obviously. Just my social circle is just way bigger than it was last year and that’s something that I really struggled with last year. But this year it’s definitely a lot better and like I said before, it’s something that I work for, instead of, I was trying to let it come to me but it really wasn’t and it was hard because it was like when everybody gets in classes with like 200, like 400 people especially at UMass like when we have classes that big like nobody's really gonna talk, everybody is going to keep to themself. So like it was kind of like I had to teach myself how to go outside my comfort zone especially like I definitely had to go outside my comfort zone deciding to live with three girls I had never met before. I mean I was friends with one of their teammates and I have never meet the three girls that I live with before. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I was definitely scared just like what would happen. But, I’m definitely glad that I took the decision because now I’m just so happy with where I’m at socially so I’m definitely glad that I went outside my comfort zone, and I took that risk. I think like college and like being this age has also taught me how to reach out and make friends it’s not like everything is going to come to you and everything is going to find you, it’s like you need to go find like what you want. Previous Next

  • MJ's Story

    MJ's Story In this interview, Mary Jo discusses her experience with assistive technology like a cochlear impact and electronic captioning. She describes her journey and how sudden hearing loss has influenced her as an individual, her relationships and her outlook on life. She leaves us with a powerful message about the importance of advocating for ourselves and others. Scroll to listen MJ's Story 00:00 / 04:01 I woke up one morning and it sounded like really loud noise I my head, it was really disorienting. I got up and I was running the sink in the bathroom, and it sounded so loud to me, like unbelievability loud. Then I realized I think I need to see somebody about this – to make a long story short immediately, the person I went to see said Well you have had a hearing loss and it's not reversable, like you have lost your hearing. I was kind of shocked by that, that she could tell all that, she looked into my ears but there was nothing to be seen, there was no infection - I wasn’t sick I had to go and have it verified, I had a bunch of tests and then I had what was called a sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Then it was just getting used to suddenly having 24 hours tetanus in one ear, I thought that was a big deal because you don’t know where sound is coming from, we are so bilateral, without two ears you can't pinpoint sound. That went on for quite a number of years and then one day I was in a café and thought I heard machines doing something weird like making a high pitched nose, I mentioned it to the other people I was with and they said, “I don’t hear anything” and as soon as I went outside, I realized it was all in my head. I was concerned that it was the same thing happening again, this time I went pretty much directly to the ER – They confirmed – well by then I had lost my hearing – being suddenly deaf, completely deaf was diffidently an experience I imagined would never happen to me. Initially I couldn’t do anything, I felt very reliant suddenly on other people to do things for me like make a phone call for me that I couldn’t do for myself, so have I adjusted very well? When I look back on it, I think I really did but I didn’t grieve the loss of my hearing and I think that came up later on, there would be sudden moments where I was just a mess because I would be with other people, and I couldn’t understand what was being said and felt completely left out, I'd go and have my cry someplace and then I'd come back and then face whatever I was dealing with again. In terms of coping, I think one of the things I have learned is that I've had to speak up for myself much more than I have ever had to do in the past, partly because it was a sudden hearing loss, and I think because of that I feel like I can be more outspoken because I don’t have this identify that has been developing for years and years about being a deaf person, I think there are a lot of positives believe it or not. I think that just having a disability is a positive thing because it changes my perspective on myself, it makes me realize that I am in vulnerable to anything as anybody else. I have met people that I would never would have met, and I had something in common with them, and I will approach them, and they will approach me if they see that I have a cochlear implant. And with little kids, I really appreciate the people, the interactions, and the connection I have had with others because of this. I have realized how quickly things have changed. I mean with no warning at all, and I read a lot about appreciation and addressing appreciation is a healing tool. I am so privileged to have good doctors and good audiologists to work with and to have the financial means to get what I need. I would hope the other person who was the friend of, or sister of , or mother of, or whatever of somebody was bearing something could maintain that sense of curiosity and not go down that fear lane and I think there is more possibility for growth and healing if you are more curious and open then if you are shut down for fear, but looking back on it I have gained so much that I never would of gotten without that.

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