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IMPACT: Boston at Brandeis University Blog

Training future leaders on activism, creating social change and building community through exciting cultural activities.

We’re so excited to be able to share all of the wonderful news, tidbits and fun that go on here every summer with even more people. Check back frequently to see the most recent updates!


Reflecting on Connections

Posted on 06/26/2015 @ 05:00 PM

Despite Impact Boston's focus on community action and hands on learning, my absolute favorite part of this program happens to be text study. Every day, 15 participants and myself spend an hour with Benny, one of the educators, for connections. Connections is a text- based study, designed to take an academic, and near philosophical perspective on the tangible change were creating in Boston's communities. The hour sessions are there to give us intellectual space throughout the day. My connections group takes it to the next level.

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Every day, my entire group specifically looks forward to connections, and we're always left speechless and amazed by the end. Instead of treating connections as another class-type setting, we have turned it into intense discussion. Everyone feeds off of each other's ideas, and points made about the text always turn into collaboration. One of my favorite parts is how we all contribute a vibrant energy to each other during connections; we all participate to hear from and learn from each other. I think it's amazing how insightful and enthusiastic text-study can become for youth, especially over the summer. I now think that many teenagers don't give themselves enough credit for their hunger and capacity to learn, on any topic. When we all walked into connections for the first time, we were not enthusiastic, and some of us most likely didn't want to be there. Before we all made the session exciting, our educator taught us to love it. Benny Summers is a phenomenal person and teacher; he brings a new dimension to educating us. He facilitates the discussion, but he wants to learn from us as much as we do. He constantly pushes us to further our perspectives, and elaborate on our theories.

Connections has given me a greater insight into how to interpret text, as well as relate the readings to my own life. I feel that I gave a greater desire to read text in my own time, and continue the thought process I've created here. Whereas every participant has a distinct perspective to contribute to our sessions, I feel that somehow, they all meld into one message that we take away from our sessions each day. I cannot wait for today's lesson.

-Ellie Sullum: Liberty Region

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An Update on United Cerebral Palsy

Posted on 06/25/2015 @ 10:00 PM

United Cerebral Palsy in Boston is an organization that works with those with Cerebral Palsy(CP) along with many other clients with disabilities such as down syndrome and dementia. After several days on site, teens have shared some incredible experiences of what it’s like to work with this demographic.

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Today I worked with a woman who told me that she was overwhelmed with happiness and was so thankful that we did not treat her and the other clients as if they had a disability. She explained to me that she enjoys that we see them as human beings and not the diagnosis that the doctor gave. I found this so moving because though we are helping at this site, all of the clients are changing and impacting us.

-Alexa Herman NRE:DC Council

My site is UCP which stands for United Cerebral Palsy, and I just love it. The first day I was a tad worried on how the teens would take the site, but they dove right in. We immediately got to work, meeting the residents, befriending them, having fun, and participating in different activities. Monday was Game Show Day where we helped the residents play Trivia and Family Feud. Tuesday was Music Day, where we all danced and sang and just moved around having fun. Wednesday was Art Day, where we had the residents play with paint catapults, make dough animals, and paint press aprons! Thursday was Beach Day! All of us teens dressed up in tanks or Hawaiian shirts and helped the residents have a beach like experience. There were sand mats, where they could feel the sand, and small pools, where they could put their feet in and relax. I played catch, with a beach ball, with a client who loves the Celtics and is really energetic, and also hit the beach ball back and forth with a 91 year old client! He is hilarious and really good at playing catch and volleying the ball back and forth. It is absolutely amazing! I love it.

-Ari Segal: Michigan Region

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A Day at Solutions at Work

Posted on 06/24/2015 @ 09:00 PM

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Solutions at Work aims to support low income families in the Boston area through professional and children's clothing and toys. After three days on site, Haley was able to give some insight on what this experience has been like.

Today at Solutions at Work, I worked with five other teens from my site group to sort women’s shoes. Going into the task, I didn’t really understand how it could take the whole three hours that we would have there. Once I saw the shoe storage area though, it all made sense. There were tons of boxes lining the floor and stacked on top of one another, all filled with single shoes. Looking into the storage area, I began to worry that our group wouldn’t be able to finish before we had to leave.

Trying to figure out how to best tackle the challenge, we split into two groups: one to find a shoe’s match and complete the pair, and another to figure out what size shoe each pair was and organize them.I worked on the latter project, assuming it had to be the easier choice. I never would have thought that it would be so hard to identify a shoe size. Since these weren’t new, the sizes were often rubbed off from being worn, or blended into the bottom sole. After our three hours, all of the shoes had been sorted. It was an incredible feeling to quickly complete tasks that would have taken the staff a long time. We could all feel her immense gratitude and appreciation.

Although we didn’t directly interact with the clients that Solutions at Work helps, the impact that was made on the organization itself could be felt by everyone. It made those three hours of digging through boxes and squinting in the dark well worth it.

-Haley Hauptman: Great Midwest Region

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A Look into Hebrew Senior Life Roslindale

Posted on 06/23/2015 @ 08:00 PM

Today, teens at the Hebrew Senior Life Roslindale service site spoke a little bit about the impressionable experience they’ve had so far.

We walked into Hebrew Senior Life Roslindale and the first thing I saw was an old women with a caregiver who looks lonely. As we go through the building there were doll models, paintings, and projects everywhere. We’re told the art is done by the residents and I’m amazed by that because it’s so meaningful and there is a story behind each piece. It’s a sign of the resident’s expression. The staff educated us about dementia. I sat down next to a resident. There had been another resident who couldn’t say my name and she corrected her. That correction made me connect with her. She told me all about here life. This day reminded me to always be grateful for the small things, like walking, swallowing, and waking up every morning. This service site has made me realize how lucky and privileged I am.

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-Hana Hofeld: Great Midwest Region

Although working with elderly with dementia may be difficult at times, putting a smile on their face is like no other feeling. I look forward to interacting with different people at the site, but also the different people on the Impact program.

-Scott Meyer: Pacific Western Region

Another exciting day here at Impact:Boston! We went back to Hebrew senior Life where we bounced around the dining hall talking to various residents. I made a connection with a resident while there and it was so special to see so many of us talking to the residents. But more than that, it was special to see how the residents responded to what we were saying. This was something I will never forget.

-Abe Shapiro: Pacific Western Region

Today at the site, I spoke more with two of the people at the Hebrew Senior Life Center. The first woman, just turned 90 years old. She told me all about where she was when she heard WW II was over. She explained how her husband was in the war and how happy she was when she knew he would be returning. I loved seeing the joy and happiness in her eyes, while she reminisced on this memory. The second women, told me all about her life before Hebrew Senior Life and how wonderful it was. The sad part was when she talked about her husband and how he died very young. I could sense the sadness she felt and I felt empathetic. After we finished talking she said, “thanks for listening!” This made me realize how impactful our work is with the residents and how rewarding it can be.

-Sonia Holstein: Great Midwest Region

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An Energetic Start to Impact: Boston!

Posted on 06/21/2015 @ 11:00 PM

After an amazing week preparing with the staff, we couldn’t wait for the teens to arrive! Staff week was awesome! It was filled with icebreakers and learning how to work as a cohesive team. We all played off each other’s strengths and we have a fantastic team! We were so excited for when all the participants would arrive and we could put our skills to work.

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The day before the participants arrived, we celebrated a meaningful Shabbat and the staff reflected on our time together throughout the week. The week was full of preparation and learning to ensure the teens have the best experience while they are at Impact. When the first participant arrived early for Havdalah, Scott Meyer stated, "Staff was very welcoming and having Havdalah with them made me feel like part of the family, which really made my experience."

When the rest of the participants arrived throughout the first day, new friendships began almost immediately. Not even the rain could put a damper on our excitement. The teens started the day with group building and ice breakers, then they went into an opening scavenger hunt where they explored the campus and collected items to donate to a local homeless shelter. The excitement continued with the reveal of their service site assignments and ended on a great note with hall meetings and bonding. We can't wait for another amazing day in Boston!

-Ari Segel and Jessica Gbur, Impact: Boston 2015 Teen Coordinators

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