Sunday, November 21, 2010

Repair the World: A Poem by Asher Rosenfeld, '12

Justice, you shall pursue
And in helping others
Help you
And maybe bring
His helping back
To others who in justice lack.
When together you might find
A better home
A better mind
Closer still you two can grow
By making half this world whole
One Jewish life touched each day
Helping others find their way
Justice now for everyone
Pursued by you
By all
Not none

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Trip to the Agohozo Shalom Youth Village: Daphne Amir, '12

My name is Daphne Amir, and this past May, I traveled to Rwanda on a Jewish service and learning trip with Tufts Hillel. Thanks to a generous donation from the Cummings Foundation, twenty of my peers and I had the unique opportunity to volunteer at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village and learn about the Rwandan genocide of 1994. After traveling the rugged, rundown streets of Kigali, we finally arrived at the village. I was astounded; the Rwandan countryside was the most breathtaking landscape I had ever seen. What I could not reconcile, however, was that the beautiful scenery of Rwanda, also known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, completely mismatched the inhumanity and bloodshed that had taken place on its soil.

Little did I know until my arrival at Agahozo Shalom that Anne Heyman, the founder, used Rwanda’s scenery to the advantage of the kids in the village. “If you see far, you will go far” is painted on an impressive mural at the entrance to ASYV. From the top of the hill, a student can gaze at Lake Mugesera embedded in a valley for miles and miles. Although Rwanda witnessed a great tragedy, the village encourages students to take pride in the beauty of their country and to be instilled with a sense of hope and purpose.

The layout of the village was also truly intentional. Agahozo Shalom, which is located on one of Rwanda’s many hills, uses the land formation to delineate its ideology. With housing located at the bottom, the dining hall midway, and the high school at the top, ASYV preaches that education is of the highest priority, followed by community.

I was completely awestruck by the kids at the village upon discovering our shared values of tikun halev and tikun olam—healing the heart and healing the world. The village is committed to helping children who have suffered in their past to heal, which will prepare them to give back to the world. Having attended a Jewish day school, I had never heard these particular phrases used outside of a Jewish context. I was absolutely amazed to hear the kids, from a completely different culture and place, speak the words that had guided me in my Jewish education. The concepts fit seamlessly into the village context, and this commonality made me feel so connected to the kids.
Seeing that the kids were instilled with hope and joy was one of the most empowering experiences I have ever had. It was invaluable to learn about Rwanda’s dark history and then be able to meet the inspirational, young survivors who will carry their country forward. The trip has taught me many precious lessons, among which is my connection and compassion to people across borders. I have experienced the value and importance of contributing to a community whose core values include healing its individual members and so selflessly reaching out to the rest of the world. I send my love and best wishes to the kids in ASYV, and I truly believe that they will do great things.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Repair the World: My Story, Dahlia Norry '12

My name is Dahlia Norry, and I spent this summer in Lurinchincha, Peru with 14 other college students and 3 group leaders. The program, Volunteer Summer, was organized through American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an outstanding organization that acts upon the Jewish obligation to pursue social justice. For seven weeks, we worked to construct a “Ludotecha” recreation center in the mornings and in the afternoons, we studied, discussed and spent time with the community members.
I am still processing what this trip taught me. I feel blessed, and sometimes guilty, to have had this opportunity. AJWS helped and is still supporting me as I try to better understand what my role is as a global citizen. I hope with every fiber of my being that this summer helped me change. I hope that I internalize a new view of our globe and each of our capacities to make a difference.
At Tufts, a globally conscious university there exists an inherent challenge: to make a difference for our larger world by working through an American framework. This struggle is both extremely difficult and extremely well supported here at school . Organizations around this campus inspire me everyday but at the same time, I feel stuck in a bureaucracy and that my efforts will help myself more than they will help others. I wonder if the resources I am utilizing are being put forward in productive ways.
Whether or not I always succeed, AJWS has showed me the importance in trying. We must engage with these questions about how to be active citizens and try to make educated decisions with regards to putting ourselves forward. Lurinchincha taught me humility and the beauty of an intentional community, and I hope to use their model to create spaces in my life where I can walk forward as a global citizen. Thanks AJWS!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where the Water Meets the Sky: Heather Blonsky, A11

Heather Blonsky, A11
Last week, Tufts University Moral Voices held a film screening as a kick-off event exploring our topic for the year - Moral Voices on Equity: Raising a Voice for Women Worldwide. We watched “Where the Water Meets the Sky” a film which shows a group of women in Northern Zambia as they learn how to use film equipment and create a documentary about a topic that is both personal and rarely talked about, the plight of women orphaned by AIDS. Camfed is an organization that educates girls and empowers women with a goal of improving the lives of 2 million children by 2013 and achieving that goal in a variety of ways. Camfed brought the cameras to Samfya, Zambia and taught a diverse group of women, including women enrolled in school, women living in a remote fishing village and women who make a living selling products at the market, how to make a documentary, giving them a voice they didn’t have before.

Through the progression of the film, we watched the joy among the women as they successfully learned how to direct the documentary and use the camera and sound equipment, finding happiness in learning a new skill, having the opportunity to speak about important issues and, finally, presenting their hard work to hundreds of viewers throughout their community. After the film ended, everyone in attendance held a short but lively discussion of what we had just seen. As privileged American students at a private university, it is difficult to even comprehend the conditions in which these women from Zambia live. While we could all agree that empowerment is something positive, especially for women, we recognized that it is also something intangible for us, something that doesn’t appear in our daily lives. Most everyone expressed a feeling of being uplifted, proud to see such a project in action, lifting up and empowering the women involved to speak, share and be a part of something worthwhile. “Where the Water Meets the Sky” gave us a window into one story of empowering African women providing us with both a feeling of hope and initiative for the future.

As an idealist with an interest in ‘saving the world’ and a confusion with regard to how to do it, watching this film helped me to see one way in which individuals are making strides to empower others. As I think about how I can make a difference, the documentary reminded me that if you influence one life, you change the world because change cannot be made in one fell swoop but instead must be made one person at a time.

To read more about the documentary or Camfed, watch the trailer, or have a film screening, visit the website: