July 17, 2013

Living up to a Mission

by Alain Laforest

Alain Laforest '15 is a Starr Fellow working on the Frontier Learning Science Bowl League.

IMG_20130706_131303  IMG_20130706_144645

The days leading up to my twentieth birthday were nerve wrecking. All of my plans to create a program that lived up to its mission would be tested by the first day of the Brown Science Bowl Pilot Program Summer Program. My birthday became an afterthought replaced by my greatest fear - creating a program that didn't live up to its mission.

I hit the gym. I worked out, played basketball, and did all I could to release stress - but nothing worked. I spoke with whoever would listen but all the mentorship in the world couldn't silence my self doubt. All the thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong were only silenced as Randy, the first student to arrive, walked into Smith-Buonanno Hall for the first time Saturday morning.

On July 6th, eight brave Providence high school students visited Brown University to "play" science. After completing an intensive diagnostic exam adopted from the New York State Regents examination, the students played their first rounds Science Bowl and learned about cell structure in a curriculum led by Samantha Rose and Lee-Sien Kao.

As I sat back to assess how things were going, I couldn't help but notice that the students were having a great time and crack a smile when I overheard one student say "I wish my science class was like this." It wasn't perfect and I didn't save the world in a day, but that told me all I needed to know. Although I have a lot to learn, I'm off to a great start and I'm learning more from the students each day. For my birthday, I got to invite students to Brown and get them excited about learning (and I had an awesome plant cell-cake too!).

What do you guys do to handle stress? How do you manage to keep things in perspective when the methods you use fail?


Related Stories

  • August 11, 2016

    "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." 

    Gwendolene Mugodi
  • 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.

    Nitya Amalean, Storyteller for Good
  • March 15, 2016

    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. 

    Isabel DeBre and Nitya Amalean, Storytellers for Good
  • March 12, 2016
    An 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

    Mina Jafarpoor '16
  • 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. 

    Nitya Amalean '16, Storyteller for Good
  • October 2, 2015

    Kavia is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow, who worked with homeless youth in workshops at La Casa Norte in Chicago this summer.

    Kavia Khosla '16