GYV Staff/Participant during: P’92 – ’96
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Smith College in Sociology with a concentration in Third World Development Studies and a master’s from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management
Occupation: Assistant Director of Program Evaluation at a nonprofit serving at-risk youth and families
Most Interesting Country Visited: Czech Republic (it’s where my grandfather was born)
Favorite GYV Memory: If you had asked me 15 years ago, I probably would have said the Dine (Navajo) giving ceremony or the Tajik/Uzbek cultural night where we all learned Central Asian dances. But in retrospect, my favorite memory of GYV is a set of three experiences in the summer of 1995 that had an extraordinary impact on me and continue to affect me to this day. First, a group of campers participated in a panel discussion in which they candidly described their experiences fleeing war or persecution. Hearing these terrifying stories told by those whom I considered close friends shook me deeply. I still remember my horror and the awe I felt for my friends’ resilience and courage. Later in the summer, my Global Issues and Leadership group set up a “hunger banquet” at lunchtime in which we randomly divided the participants and staff into three groups, corresponding with then-current statistics on world hunger. The smallest group received a large, indulgent meal. A slightly larger group had a very simple, bland meal, while the majority was given just a small bowl of rice. We intended to simulate the international disparity in consumption and poverty. Everything seemed very abstract when we were setting up the event: hunger had never been an issue for me. It was just a topic I had seen on the news or a cause we would donate a can of soup to around Thanksgiving. It never occurred to me that I would know someone for whom hunger had been a reality. Once we started the banquet though, it was very clear that for some of us, hunger was not an abstract concern but rather a memory from childhood. As with the refugee panel, I was very deeply moved by many of my friends’ comments, and I left wanting to do something to help. The next week or so, the Global Issues and Leadership group went on a field trip to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in DC, and we met with a staffer who told us about the UN’s efforts to help refugees. She told me that there were refugee resettlement agencies around the world and gave me the contact info for one in my community. I ended up volunteering there for years and later returned to work as a case manager. Those three experiences at GYV had such a fundamental impact on me that it’s hard to believe they happened over a period of just a few weeks.
Volunteer/Civic Engagement since Global Youth Village: Right now I am very active in efforts to strengthen Jewish-Muslim relations and counter the rise in Islamophobia in the United States. I also volunteer at two local civil rights organizations that work to combat housing discrimination and promote LGBT equality, and I volunteer with another project that helps reconnect Boston area refugees with loved ones from whom they were separated during war or genocide. I also serve on the steering committee of a group that matches young adult volunteers with non-profit organizations around Boston.
Biography: I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island in the United States with my mother and several pets. Ever since I was a little kid, I adored animals, and that passion led me to become a vegetarian when I was eight years old. A few years later, I came across a book called “Kids Can Save the Animals,” which referenced two vegetarian summer camps in North America: one was an outdoors camp that offered sailing, canoeing, kayaking and rock climbing lessons, and the other was a small camp in Virginia and had something to do with multiculturalism and leadership development. I didn’t really know what either of those things meant, but the camp had neither boats nor meat, and that was good enough for me. And that’s how I ended up at the Legacy International summer program, now known as the Global Youth Village. Few people can say that their summer camp shaped their adult lives, but GYV inspired interests and passions that I never could have conceived before arriving in 1992. Since GYV, I have traveled to several amazing countries, including Kenya, India, Costa Rica, the Philippines and most recently Ukraine, and volunteering on human and civil rights issues has been a huge part of my life. I now live in Brookline, Massachusetts, with my dog (Ralphie) and cat (Maggie), and I work at a wonderful non-profit that serves some of the most at-risk kids and families in the state.