Active Citizenship

A Former ‘Mate Pays It Forward

When Evan Barnathan, A08, M14, became a Boston Schweitzer Fellow, the choice of what to do for his year of service was obvious. As a former member of the Tufts Amalgamates and current music director of his beloved group, he spent the year launching Josiah Quincy Upper School‘s first choral effort: Attuned, an a cappella group that offered students the opportunity to both explore their musical creativity and develop positive self-identity and behaviors. Barnathan worked with students who were “‘unable to sing ‘Happy Birthday’” and through weekly rehearsals, private lessons, and field trips (to see the Bubs!), transformed them “into a formidable a cappella ensemble performing everything from pop to soul with pieces ranging from ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield to ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers.”

Boston Schweitzer Fellows focuses on addressing unmet health needs and is one of thirteen program sites across the US. Their site boasts, “Since the program’s inception, Schweitzer Fellows in Boston—competitively chosen from health-focused graduate student applicants in a variety of fields—have worked tirelessly to address health disparities and the social determinants of health throughout the greater Boston and Worcester areas.” Despite the program’s large scale success, Evan’s personal goals for his project focus on individual students: “I hope that this encourages the students to further engage in music education—and hopefully higher education, including college and beyond.”

For more on The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, be sure to check out their blog.

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Tufts in Rwanda: 2012 Edition

Two years ago, we showed you how students on Tufts Hillel’s service trip to Rwanda learned and grew abroad. This year, Tufts Hillel continues their legacy of helping the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village with a new batch of students eager to repair the world. On their own branch of the Tufts Hillel blog, we find the stories of  Hannah, Sam, Paige, Nate, Natasha, Arlen, Jessica, Ariana, Katie, Shane, Laura, and Tayo as they embark on their interfaith service trip:

“We all chose to come to Rwanda for different reasons and had different expectations, but we were all excited to be going. Some wanted to see a new country, while some wanted to see a new continent. Others wanted to experience a new culture. I think all of us wanted to learn about what had happened in 1994, and many also wanted the trip to help guide them to their future career choices.
                  I will never forget the moment we stepped off the plane. I’m (Tayo) from Ghana, and when I go home I’m used to being hit with the hot air and the smell that can only mean that I’m finally in the place I love the most. But here I was, in Rwanda, a place I’d never been to, feeling sensations that were almost the same! I (Laura) was entirely unsure of what to expect as I had never been to Africa before. However, we both felt that after feeling the hot air and seeing the bright lights of Kigali—the endless hours of travel had all been worth it. We went through immigration and, after dealing with some luggage issues, hopped on the bus to Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. The bus ride was surreal. Although it was night time and everybody was exhausted, we were all so excited to be in the country that we had read and watched so much about.”

The trip is part of Hillel’s Alternative Summer Break program. For more journeys to Rwanda, check out the Tufts in Rwanda student groups from 2011 and 2010.

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Summer at the Movies – Ballplayer: Pelotero

Every summer, after tiring of the beach and the heat, we flock to movie theaters to delight in the relief of air conditioning and a good flick. This Friday, our summer at the movies can take a break from superheroes, talking teddy bears, and pop stars to bear witness to a truly fascinating story brought to you in part by two Tufts alumni.

In their controversial film Ballplayer: Pelotero, Trevor Martin, A08, and Casey Beck, A07, bring us the story of Miguel Angel and Jean Carlo, two excellent Dominican baseball players. The boys are on the brink of turning 16 (the age in which they can be signed to a Major League Baseball farm), which could lead them to the majors.

Martin and Beck along with their crew, spent two years in the Dominican Republic filming and preparing their movie. The film “sheds light on some of the most pressing issues regarding the export of Dominican baseball players to the US: age and identity fraud, exploitation, and the opaque role Major League Baseball plays in determining the fates of young players and their families. However, at heart, the film is a story about two gifted young men with a shared dream, doing their best to navigate a mercenary world with the hopes, fears and burdens of their entire families riding on their success or failure.”


The documentary has received much criticism from the MLB for its controversial topic–the organization itself did not did not cooperate in the making of the film. Martin explains to the Boston Globe, “We took pains not to have the film come across as a heavy-handed indictment [...] It’s a complex issue. We leave value judgments up to the viewer.”

To make those judgments yourself, check out Ballplayer: Pelotero this Friday, July 13, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. If you’re not in the area, check out the movie’s website for a complete list of showing locations.

 

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Cummings School and Spay Worcester

Spay Worcester and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University recently teamed up to spay and neuter local stray cats. They created a “super clinic” with the goal of sterilizing 100 cats in one day.

Spay Worcester was formed in 2010 when local residents grew concerned at the number of stray cats in the area. Today the organization works to “reduce the population of free-roaming cats in the city of Worcester through spay neuter and public education.” During the super clinic, fourth-year veterinary students from the Cummings School performed the surgeries under the supervision of faculty veterinarians.

Not only did they reach their goal, they beat it: 102 cats were spayed or neutered at the super clinic. Check out this video for an inside look at the program:

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Tufts Hillel in Morocco

Early in June, a group of students from Tufts Hillel packed their bags and headed to Morocco. As part of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the group planned to volunteer and serve while learning about the challenges facing Jewish communities abroad.

Through the JDC: In Service blog, the group has been blogging about their adventures. They’ve recounted days working with students at a local school, dancing with seniors at a home for the elderly, and helping to restore a Jewish cemetery.

While visiting the school, one of the Tufts bloggers writes:

It was especially meaningful to spend time in the computer class because before the trip we fundraised to buy computer operating systems for the school. We sold popcorn to Tufts students and their parents and raised a total of $650. We presented the check to the director of the school, who was very appreciative to both our group and the JDC for the support.

The group has also managed to fit in some site-seeing, complete with a trip to the Jardin Majorelles garden and touring the only Jewish Museum in the Arab world. See some pictures from their travels below and keep up with the Tufts Hillel team in Morocco here.

Visiting a local school

 

Restoring a Jewish cemetery

 

Group shot in Marrakech

 

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Alum Develops Media for Children

Dr. Michael Robb, A02, has been working at the Fred Rogers Center to develop the online community Early Learning Environment (Ele). Ele is one of the only digital media resources created for children from birth to five years old. Using Ele, early educators and those who care for young children can find online and mobile educational activities especially designed for adults to share with children. Ele helps teachers and family members find different kinds of media to “learn about helping children improve their language and reading skills.” Dr. Robb says that “talking is teaching” and that their goal is to have people view media the same way they would view a book: as a way to spend time with and talk with a child.

Check out this video where Dr. Robb talks shares details about Ele:

 

 

 

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Studying Abroad in India

Tufts Alumni created a video that offers an inside look at a student studying abroad in New Delhi, India. Maxine Builder, A13, shares photos and videos of her experiences and talks about getting to know a new city and seeing public health initiatives first hand.

The video is part of the “Come Back. Give Back” challenge. Classes 2002 to 2011 have the chance to create a $10,000 scholarship in their class’ name if 50 members of the class make a gift of any size to Tufts.

Check out Maxine’s story:

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Alumni Musician Testifies for Change

Many of you may recall Adam Gardner, front man of the Tufts-born band Guster, from his recent performance at Spring Fling. But the Class of ’95 singer is doing more for music than putting on great shows. On May 8, Gardner spoke at the National Resource Committee Hearing in regards to 1981 amendments to the Lacey Act, demonstrating the value of active citizenship that Tufts promotes. In his speech, Gardner called for harsher punishments to those who partake in illegal logging practices. Specifically, he spoke of rosewood – a material typically used to make guitars. You can learn more about the proposal and the negative effects of illegal logging from the video of Gardner’s speech below:

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The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFP) is a program initiated by the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition in an effort to meet the increasing demand for locally grown food. The farmer training program includes people from all over the world, from Zimbabwe to Cambodia, who are interested in small-scale commercial agriculture. One marketing initiative that is part of NESFP is the World PEAS Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which helps connect local farmers with a consumer base. The goal is to teach aspiring farmers a lost form of agriculture that has been long overlooked in favor of imports and mass-scale farming. This will permit farmers to meet the new demand for fresh, local fruit and vegetables. You can learn more about the program in the video below.

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Growing Civic Fruit

What sounds more like Tufts than puns, civic engagement, and the environment? It won’t come as a surprise that Tufts alumni are essential to The Boston Tree Party.

The Party is a diverse coalition of organizations, institutions, and communities from across the Greater Boston Area coming together in support of Civic Fruit. We call for the planting of fruit trees in civic space and promote the fruits of civic engagement. Each community has committed to planting and caring for a pair of heirloom apple trees.

Three Tufts Alumni are leading the way at The Boston Tree Party. Lisa Gross is the Chairman and Founder, Maura Schorr Beaufait is the Chief of Operations, and Beth Nollner is Project Coordinator. Between them they hold degrees from Tufts/MFA, the Friedman School of Nutrition, and the Urban and Environmental Policy graduate program.

Check out this short documentary: “Growing Civic Fruit: A Documentary Film about the Boston Tree Party”

 

You can follow the Boston Tree Party on Twitter at @BostTreeParty

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