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  • Bert's Story

    < Back 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. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 03:33 It seems to me that lots of people have kind of a plan in their life of what they would like to do, and they set about doing it. I never had such a plan. I was kind of a vague wanderer among libraries and was really interested in English literature and English history and studied for a bit in England for a little while and I didn’t have a glamour of what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed like it would be good to be useful, but I didn’t have much other plan than that. I got married shortly after college and we had a child and then because I had been an only child pretty much in my life, I thought we don’t want this child to be all alone we should have another one pretty soon. And it turned out that that one turned out to be twins. And suddenly wooo, I had three babies, they were less than two years of age, and I was supposed to figure out what to do with them and I had to stop wandering around wondering what book I was gonna read next. So, it was a pretty hectic and transformative time for me. I had to think of myself as a very different person, responsible for these three little babies and then three wild little boys and I started to sort of become somewhat more assertive I think. I had never been before. After being at home for quite some time with them I thought I really gotta get out of here a little bit and I saw a notice that Children’s Hospital School for Kids with Hearing Loss was looking for some volunteers and I thought well I could probably do that. And I arranged for a baysitter and went down and helped out mainly in an art class with kids with severe hearing losses and they were very interesting. But the director of the program kept saying you gotta go to graduate school. And so after a year of so of prompting I did start a graduate program in speech language at Catholic University. A friend from graduate school who was a little bit ahead of me called and said Bert I’m working at this great school you’ve gotta come and work here with me. It’s a school for preschool children, very young children, with a variety of pretty serious physical and neurological problems and they need another therapist. Okay, here I am. It turned out to be wonderful. The schools had a wonderful transdisciplinary approach so that instead of passing kids around from therapist to therapist or teacher to teacher or whatever, we were in teams. The parents, teachers, physical therapists, the occupational therapist, speech language therapist, we were in a team and we all had to understand what everybody else’s goals were for this child so that anytime you interacted with them whether you were changing a diaper or you were helping somebody have lunch, or you were playing together all of those goals had to be integrated. It was an incredible learning experience and it taught me way more than any course ever could ever have taught me. I never imagined so many interesting, challenging situations just kept unfolding one after another and with the enormous good fortune of always having very good people to work with, not a lot of money but a lot of really good, strong coworkers. I feel very fortunate in my unplanned, kind of wandering way. Previous Next

  • Francine's Story

    Francine's Story In her interview with Carolyn, Francine reflects on her time in Denmark back when she was a junior in college. She looks back fondly at the many memories and life lessons of her host, Frau Nielsen. Fran reflects on how Frau Nielsen changed her young mind’s conception of what it means to be old. Scroll to Listen Francine's Story 00:00 / 04:08 ‘Kay, so the person I want to tell you about is Frau Nielsen. It’s funny Frau is like Mrs. or Miss or something [in Danish], but that’s what I always called her. I think her first name was Marie, but I never used it. And she was the person I lived with when I was a junior in college and went to Denmark for a year. And she had a big impact on the way I viewed the world and my life. I had dinner with Frau Nielsen and what I really remember is that we just had these incredibly interesting conversations every single night. And, in fact, I tried to study Danish and the problem was… sometimes I’d say to her, “Let’s just try to speak Danish”. But then, all we could say was, you know, “How are you?”. You know, we couldn’t say anything interesting, so we’d always go back to English, which she was quite good [at]. Although sometimes, she would mix in a German word ‘cause she also knew German. Carolyn: So next, question. What are the most, or some of the most, valued lessons that Frau Nielsen taught you while you were over there? Okay so, the first lesson for me was, I would call it anti-ageism because when I was 20-years-old, I was really ageist. And when I first got to Denmark, all the people that were going to house students were waiting at the train. And there were these young families with kids and everything, and that was my image of what I was hoping to have. Although I already knew [it would be Fraun], because she had written me a letter that she wasn’t [young]. And I saw this old woman standing there. You know, it’s kind of funny now, because she was 67, which is six years younger than I am now. I remember my heart sank, I just thought, “Oh why did I get a bad choice?” or whatever. And it was, I had such a fantastic year because of her. So I realized how absurd that was. But also, I had all kinds of stereotypes like I thought it was just an amazing thing that she could ride a bicycle. I mean she would ride a bike to the train station. Now that I’m seventy-three, I have a friend who goes on 100-mile bike rides like it’s nothing. And even when I was older, even when I got better after knowing her, at my wedding, I invited the mother of my husband’s best friend in college. The mother was probably in her sixties and we thought it was so impressive that she had made her way to our house all by herself [laughs]. I mean it’s just ridiculous [Carolyn laughs]. Anyways so, I mean I did get better in that I thought older people were worth knowing. But I still probably harbored a lot of stereotypes even into my thirties. Anyways, so that was the first lesson. The other thing was she was so intellectually alive, and always always trying to learn new things like taking courses… And the first week that I got there, she had a birthday party for herself and she had a bunch of friends over. They had this discussion about what was the best American novel and they asked me my opinion, which I felt completely unqualified to give. I mean I had an opinion, but what struck me was like how intellectual they all were. And they weren’t all college professors, I mean she was a teacher but it’;s not like they had… It’s not like their profession was predominantly intellectual professions. They just were intellectual. It's just really… something that I think about everyday, that I just want to keep learning. And I really learned that from her.

  • Chad's Story

    < Back 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. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 02:58 The first question that I have for you is: What was the most difficult part of school for you? You know again there was no special ed then, saying from the front of the room “Ok Chad what’s the answer to number 2? What’s two times nineteen” and I would get red in the face and now, all the other kids are whipping their heads around looking at me, so it was the kids too so. The hardest part was, I guess you would call it sticking out or the change, the change from fitting in and community, to sticking out as there’s something different here, what’s going on. You know, I was called lazy and a lot of those kinds of things until around 13 years old or something, when they diagnosed a bunch of learning disabilities. You know, it’s like any health diagnosis, somebody could take the diagnosis, let’s say alcoholism, they could take that and say “Oh my god I’m broken! This is never going to get better.” Other can take that diagnosis “Hey, now I know I need to watch out for this, how can I work on that.” So as soon as the mind makes that turn, that change, there is benefit. So, by the time I hit high school I had dropped out so, joining that new school in Framingham was the best thing that could have ever happened. I was accepted for who I was no matter what that small part of me was about. I was kind of, I guess you could call it sitting at the boundary. I was neither at the public high school nor at the prep school, but once I started that new school with the others, I was back in the arms of the community. I mean the Sudbury Valley School prepared me for being a member, you know, being someone who had something to give. “We want to hear from you, what’s your take on this, now what about yours.” And I think being a member of that warming school, and the specific model of the school formed a lot of the rest of my life. Previous Next

  • Eden's Story

    Eden's Story In this story, Eden’s generous neighbor teaches her a valuable life lesson. The irony of this significant story is unique as the neighbor has no idea of the impact and life shaping this had on Eden. Scroll to Listen Eden's Story 00:00 / 03:47 Growing up both my parents worked. My mom would work later and my dad got out of work around 4 o’clock. So there were a couple of hours in the day after school where I needed someone to watch me and my neighbor, Paula, was the most gracious woman. She’s taught me a lot–definitely an influence from my childhood almost like a second grandmother and I looked up to her so much and loved her. There was a brief period where she couldn’t get me off the bus for about a week or so; I was probably 7 or 8 I can’t really remember but I was young. I remember my parents said ‘Oh, Paula’s sick’ but didn’t really get into anything. I don’t even know if they knew but she had been in the hospital. To this day, I still don’t know what illness she had but she got me off the bus when she was feeling better and I hadn’t seen her for about a week or a couple days, which was rare because I had been seeing this woman every day. So it was weird to not see her for a couple of days. She got me off the bus and we were just talking and I said ‘Oh, Paula, where have you been?’. She said she had been in the hospital and I kind of brushed over it and didn’t really know how to react because I was younger and didn’t know the complexity of certain illnesses. I didn’t ask her how she was doing or if she was feeling any better and it was the first time an adult other than my parents had checked me as a person and kind of put me in a place where I needed to reflect on myself. My parents had done it in more disciplinary ways, but this was deeper than that where it was about self-reflection and how I treat other people. I can remember like it was yesterday… the look on her face, she was so disappointed in me and hurt. She just looked at me and she goes ‘Eden! Are you even going to ask me if I’m doing okay or feeling any better? My heart sank because this was the woman I looked up to so much and loved and adored and would never wish ill on her ever, but she was right. I didn’t know what to say so I looked at her and said ‘I’m so sorry, Paula. Are you feeling better?’ She looked and told me ‘No, Eden, that’s not the point now that you asked. It’s that you knew that I was sick and you didn’t ask if I was feeling better or if I was doing okay and that hurt me because I thought that you would care’. She treated me as an adult, which I respected but it sat with me for a very long time and it definitely taught me this life lesson of how to be a compassionate person because I think when you’re a kid, you have this tendency to just naturally think about yourself and you don’t quite know how to express compassion for other people other than just being a nice person and having respect and treating others the way you want to be treated but I think compassion goes deeper than that. There are always going to be situations in life where you don’t really know what the right thing is to say, and I think about this memory when I go into situations like that when I know someone needs that extra support and compassion. You know, it’s better to say something than nothing at all and it's an important lesson that she taught me. She doesn’t even know that she did this and probably didn’t think much of it after the fact, but it’s just always stuck with me!

  • Caleigh's Story

    Caleigh's Story Caleigh reflects on the importance of becoming a role model for her five-year-old niece, Natalie. Being there for her as she grows up is something extremely important to Caleigh. Scroll to Listen Caleigh's Story 00:00 / 02:37 Caleigh: I just love stories in general anyways because it makes people who maybe would have never interacted realize their shared humanities. I just want say a story that I heard in class—It was a story in class about a young man who welcomed a little brother into his world, and he realized that this world was no longer about him and he wasn’t just a big brother, he was a role a model. Everything he accomplished and everything he strived for wasn’t only for himself but to set a good example for his brother.​ When I read that story in class it made me think of my five-year-old niece, Natalie, and we are very close. She’s my whole world, I love her so much. After reading that story, I took a step back and I was like, “who am I as an auntie and how does she see me?” She looks up to me, she mimics me, she wants to be just like me, she always wants to spend time with me, and it made me think about what kind of person do I want her looking up to? I am no longer just an auntie, but I am setting a good example for her. I want to show her that she is capable of anything she sets her mind to. I am the first one in my family to go to college and I would love to be a role model for her to see, you know, auntie goes to college, and I can do it and I want to be just like her. And through just reading that story of the man—the boy—who welcomed his brother in the world, it just connected me and him and we’ve never met. I hope that everything that I’ve learned in my 20 and a half years—today is my half birthday—I want to share those experiences with her so that she doesn’t make some of the mistakes that I’ve made, but also that she can follow in my footsteps because I feel like I am a great role model for her. That’s—you know—I have two older brothers. I never really had a female role model, other than my mom, someone that was closer to my age, so in a way we are so close, and I’ve been with her since she was in the womb.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mary's Story

    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. Scroll to listen Mary's Story 00:00 / 02:19 So, I know you have a lot of collections, and you keep creating new ones. What are some examples and what made you become a collector? I remember really clearly we lived in a sorta like actually my father taught in a boys boarding school so we lived in a dorm and you would take ethe trash all the way down to the basement to put it in these bins and I was old enough to take the trash down I guess for my mother So i as taking the trash down I went down to the trash room and I saw all this stuff and there was an older couple who worked was on the faculty and they were downsizing and they had piles of stuff and I was immediately really interested in it that was my earliest memory of finding extraordinary things in the trash and I’ve never stopped ever since When I was going through my paternal grandmothers stuff Among all the other stuff I found was a box of buttons I mean some of them were really old some go back to the 19th century and some buttons from when my grandmother during world war 2 was a part of the red cross ambulance driver corps ya know outside of Boston she didn't drive ambulances really but for some reason these women trained for that there were just and there were buttons they came from all different types of people now just women but mostly women the family and ya know from generations of all different people and I think I was already collecting antique buttons and I kind of dumped everything together and I would come up with some buttons from my mother and I’d put those in there and to me it's like this ocean of family history particularly for me of women history and it just is like it all flowed together into this soup and i just love that ya know I have made some things with the buttons like I've decorated some pillows with them I was thinking of framing some maybe I'll do it maybe I won't It's such an immediate connection to generations of women and its different as if I just got something from a tag sale cause this actually had to do something with people in my family who knows what but that's one example of potentially thousands I can tell

  • 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

  • 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!”

  • 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

  • Home | Our Stories

    Tell Me A Story: Building Connection Across Generations A Project of University of Massachusetts Public Health Sciences Program and Northampton Neighbors Everyone has a story to share... Public Health students at UMass Amherst paired up with Northampton Neighbors for this storytelling project. We hope you enjoy their stories. Click on the names below to hear their stories. To view more stories, click the tabs in the menu above. You can see stories told by each cohort of students & Neighbors. To listen to the full interviews, click here! ​ New Stories! 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 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 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 into typical American standards, to now embracing her Brazilian roots and culture. Listen Jesse's Story Jesse talks about a time in his life where he was wrongfully accused of going to prison. He talks about how tough that was for him but how in some ways it proved to help him. ​ Listen 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 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 Liya's Story Liya speaks with Nina about her experiences attending a preparatory boarding school. Theydiscuss the effects that it had on her life reflecting on aspects of race, class, & socioeconomic status. Listen Ngozi's Story Ngozi talks to Tamar about traveling to Nigeria, dad's special pancakes, and how she would like to be remembered. She describes how her family's home in Nigeria is the most important place to her. Listen Dennis' Story Dennis describes the process he went through when he decided to become a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He discusses the impact of that decision and the mark it left on his life. Listen Bert's Story Bert shares with Alisson the remarkable role that neighborhood organizations have played in her life. They have provided her and her family with support and companionship through some of her most challenging moments. Listen Ray's Story In this clip, Ray discusses his journey to a love of theater and acting. He has now been an actor for over 50 years. Acting has taught him a great deal about life, and is a critical part of his identity. Listen Betty's Story Betty chronicles her challenging experiences at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also shares a message of hope and love. Listen

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