"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Little Big Moments
Billy Watterson ’15 is the Executive Director of Beat the Streets Providence, an organization that establishes wrestling programs in some of Providence’s poorest middle and high schools to provide students with a positive alternative community to the streets – a community founded on hard work, self-worth, teamwork, and camaraderie. Here Billy reflects on the moments that make him love what he does.
Usually when I write it comes easily. This is especially true when I write about Beat the Streets, but for some reason this story wasn’t easy. I started, stopped, deleted, rewrote, and started over several times. There’s a reason for that.
A lot of what I try to do when I write about Beat the Streets is to tell our success stories and most of those are really easy and even fun to tell. When I tell them I get excited and animated and I want to tell more, and as many, people as I can. Most of the time it’s hard to get me to shut up because I love these stories. Yet for me it’s not the stories that I usually tell that make what I do worthwhile. It’s not the big moments or the giant successes; instead it’s the little moments which matter the most and which make me love what I do. These little moments are harder to write about because while they are important, they are harder to capture. Today I decided to try.
Yesterday morning I was in a meeting with Elisa Almonte — the after-school coordinator for UCAP Middle School. We were covering everything from budgets, to personnel, to scheduling and it’s this: the logistics, the organizing, the fundraising that make what we do possible; but at 8:30 am on a Monday they were also very much what make my brain hurt. That’s the hard-work, what came next is what makes the hard work not just worthwhile, but easy.
The staff member (will call her Mary) who shares an office with Elisa had just walked in. She was also clearly experiencing a case of the Mondays. We briefly exchanged hellos and Elisa and I continued our conversation, until one of our students, David, came up in conversation. I was talking about how hard it was going to be to lose some of the leaders on the team who would graduate. When Mary heard his name she perked up and she smiled.
“We’ll all miss David.”
“He’s the best.” I said and she replied-
“You have no idea.” She looked like she was going to retreat back into her work, but instead looked back up, “Do you know what he said to me the other day?” She paused, “He said that before he started wrestling he never knew he could be good at anything. It doesn’t matter that he’s graduating – he might be graduating, but he’s changed – for good.”
Elisa grinned, “Yeah, and now he was a cocky *$& after he won states. I loved it! You should have seen him.”
After that the conversation and that little moment was over. Mary went back to working off the Mondays and we went back to the same numbers, and schedules, and headaches, which all seemed a little bit easier and a little bit less daunting.
Later on that same day I watched David take the stage at a ceremony at the Mayor’s office and talk about what wrestling had done for him. His dad came up to me after and said he had no idea his boy was going to get up on stage and speak in front of so many people. He was amazed. I told him that David amazed me every day and it was the absolute truth.
That was a big moment, but when I went to sleep that night it was the little one I thought about. The short conversation which reminded me why I love what I do and how important and powerful it can be.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015