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  • Abby's Story

    < Back 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. Scroll to listen 00:00 / 04:02 Basically, growing up, traveling was a really big part of my life, one special one that I remember was when I was going into my junior year in high school, they took us to Peru for 3 weeks. For 2 of the weeks we were living on a boat on the Amazon River which was really really cool. We were kind of like helping college students who were doing their thesis or dissertations. We were basically going in and out of the Amazon Rainforest and helping them collect data. It was an awesome experience. It made me look at my life differently, it was my first time traveling without my family. But also while we were there we were able to go to a little village for the day and the villagers just showed us around their homes but we were hanging out with all the little kids and we brought them school supplies and gifts but it was just awesome to see, it was like Christmas day for them when we came they were so excited and that really put a lot of things into perspective because coming from America we just have a lot more things than other countries do, so it was just a really awesome experience and it really shows me a lot about life and how materialistic things like that doesn’t really matter. From that traveling really became my passion, I knew I loved going to new places and experiencing new cultures and seeing different cultures. So, I knew when I came to college, I was going to study abroad no matter what. I went abroad in Fall 2021, and I went to Verona, Italy. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my favorite semester in college so far. I was able to travel a ton, I met a lot of new people, I learned so much about myself, I grew as a person. You kind of learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable if that makes sense, you just are kind of thrown into situations that you usually wouldn’t be in and you kind of just got to figure it out. Like it's been an experience that pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, but it was amazing and so worth it. You just kind of got to learn to just go with the flow and stuff won’t always go the way you planned and that’s okay. My first trip was to Lake Como in Italy. It was one of my favorite trips on that I went on there, it was beautiful and so fun but I think what made it one of my favorite trips was the people I was with and we were just hanging out and having fun and getting to know each other because we were only 3 weeks in so it wasn’t like we knew each other super well. My last trip was to London, basically to London we were just being the biggest tourists you could be. We were doing all the touristy things, we went and saw the London Eye, we saw Great Ben, we saw the Parliament, we saw Buckingham Palace, everything that was stereotypical and touristy about London, we did it. My current job right now which I love is at our study abroad office at UMass. I basically just encourage kids to go abroad and tell them that they can do it, I know it's scary, but you got it. I am working for Teach for America when I graduate, before this year I've always known about it but never thought I'd be able to get in. Previous Next

  • Janice's Story

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

  • Spring2023

    Spring 2023 Stories ​ Ambitions are ever-changing, but character remains the same (Diane's Story) This is the story of how our goals and ambitions are constantly changing throughout our lives. Diane and Victoria discuss how they have changed throughout their lives, and what has remained constant. The common thread in the lives of both of these women is their strong mothers. Read More Carol's Story Carol talks about her experience traveling to Europe her junior year of college after realizing that she needs to go out of her comfort zone. With support from her friend and her parents, this trip changes her perspective on the kind of person she wants to strive to be, for her career but mostly for herself. The European mindset is what influences her to do things that make herself feel whole like slowing down her day with journaling and yoga. This trip has inspired her to travel for nursing and even ignite the courage to solo trip alone someday. Read More David's Story David talks about his experience with coming out during the 70s and 80s to his parents and how people’s perceptions of what it means to be gay was different then compared to today. He also talks about what it was like to finally be able to marry his partner Todd and what that meant to him. Read More Francesca's Story Follow Francesca as she shares her spiritual journey as a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, inspiring her devotion to uplifting others around her while spreading love. Read More Freeman's Story Freeman remarks on his decision to retire and how retiring has allowed him to grow as a person and start new things after his career. He later elaborates on the ultimate goals and appreciations he has for his life and his message for others when considering the path of their own life: “think of the long ride, not the short journey.” Read More Gail's Story ​ Read More Ivana's Story Ivana shares a vulnerable story about her battle with anxiety and depression as a young adult in high school. She talks about how her experiences have influenced who she is today and memorializes this struggle with a tattoo on her back. Read More Jake's Story Jake reflects on two similar scenarios he has encountered with bees and how that has made him realize the power of one’s own mindset when it comes to handling situations differently. He talks about how he keeps a positive mindset which has translated into looking at things in a more gratifying way and spreading positivity in other aspects of his life. Read More Janet's Story Janet gives voice to her late older brother Jay and recalls the significant impact he has had on her early life and professional career despite struggling in his adolescence and growing up in a time where it was unlawful to be self assured about your homosexuality. This is a story about love and loss but touching upon hope in freedom of self expression in culture today. Read More Joan's Story Listen to Joan as she talks about her Auntie Deli and the role her Aunt played in shaping Joan's life in the past and the present. Read More Kathleen Bowen's Story Kathleen talks about changes and how her perspective of age and learning has changed over time through her own experience with getting older. Read More Kathleen's Story Kathleen describes her path to becoming a speech pathologist. She describes her experience growing up with her younger sister Margaret Mary who was born with cerebral palsy. As a child she tried to find ways to help her sister learn to speak. Later, she took her first speech pathology course in college, and went on to work in a private practice and at an elementary school. Read More Norma's Story ​ Read More Rick's Story Rick talks about his parents and how they were his lighthouses growing up. Specifically, he focuses on how a moment with his father in the hospital has guided his view on the meaning of life. Read More Sunny's Story Sunny shares a story about how her relationship with the fine arts has developed and strengthened over the course of her life. She has a passion for art that follows her everywhere. Read More

  • 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

  • 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

  • Fall 2021 Stories

    Fall 2021 Stories If you'd like to listen to a story, click the "Listen" button. 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. Listen Barbara S's Story Barbara discusses a life changing event from her childhood and again, in her younger years that ultimately, led her to find her love for the Pioneer Valley. Listen 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. Listen Candace's Story Candace shares what it means for her to live her best self and how she continues to learn through her experiences. Listen Charlie's Story Charlie reflects on how he values his experiences with people who he met through his jobs throughout the course of his life. Listen 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. Listen Emily L's Story Emily discusses how her culture, once embarrassing to her, has helped her shape into the growing and caring person she is today. Listen Emily W's Story Emily W talks to Emily L about how the feminist movement has shaped her growing up and how the culture of women's liberation influenced her ideologies and life. Listen Janice's Story In this story, Janice explains her life long connection to animals and how her experiences working with animals have become her most fulfilling achievements. Listen Jesse's Story Jesse shares a story with Kelly about his trip to Bhutan and the lessons helearned from his Buddhist practice. Listen Jonathan's Story Jonathan talks with Julia about the importance of his family network during the pandemic. Likewise, he is thankful for social media and zoom technology because it enabled him to stay in touch with his family. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Obi's Story Obi discusses the influence of one teacher in his life, and how that teacher influenced not only his future career goals, but also his work ethic. Listen Ray's Story In this clip, Ray discusses his journey to a love of theater and acting. Acting has taught him a great deal about life, and is a critical part of his identity. Listen 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. Listen 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. Listen Susy's Story Susy’s adventurous, independent lifestyle quickly transitioned into a nurturing one when she found herself longing for a baby. After adopting her son from Peru, she instantly knew she had made the right choice. Listen Marcia's Story Marcia explains how the simple act of being friendly and saying hi dramatically changed her world and formed life long relationships in the summer of 1968. Listen Stephanie's Story In this story, Stephanie discusses one of her professors. Even if they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, Stephanie greatly valued their presence in her life, as well as their advice. Their mentorship will stay with her throughout her life. Listen Sally's Story Sally talks with Mia about her role in creating the first public library in the township where she lived and the impact it has had on her life. "Libraries always remind me that there are good things in this world." - Lauren Ward Listen Laura's Story In this story, Laura reflects on her connection to modern dance and how it has followed her throughout her life. Listen Annabel's Story Annabel, who recently uprooted her life in North Carolina and moved to Northampton, MA, discusses how she ended up living in the city and her close familial relationships that led her there. Listen Kelly's Story Kelly talks with Jesse about her evolving family dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen

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