There’s beauty in the struggle, and it starts with you

LearnServe Alumna Daniela Richardson-Ferrera (LearnServe Paraguay, 2011) delivered a moving keynote address at the 2017 LearnServe Abroad graduation. Read the full keynote below, recited as a poem. 

Born on the island of blue waters and palm trees

That’s the image portrayed, however it was poverty to me

SAVED! Packed and delivered to the United States, finally our solution

But as I grew in this country, it was slowly revealed that was all an illusion

It was not that this country was free of “poverty,”

it just looked different here. Here it had the first name “oppression” and the last name “fear”

But hey, I got used to it; at least here I had a quality education

Oh wait no, minorities here mirror how my people in the DR, discriminate against Haitians

It’s like hey I know I contributed to your dismay,

Your struggle is our offspring that I forced onto you

It’s like “look where you were and now look how far I’ve brought you”

I became “comfortable.”

And in came LearnServe and twisted and molded me until I became vulnerable

You see when people hear that word; it penetrates their ego like a sword

LearnServe builds its students with the strength to extract that sword,

Put it in the face of oppression, subduing the suppression,

Promoting self-expression,

Dismantling our depression

thus, illuminating the path of our repossession to be free.

Since that life changing experience in Paraguay in 2011 I have not been able to shake this desire

to be an active member to change the very issues that made me feel lessened.

LearnServe makes young minds ask tough questions while letting them know that asking them is

just the minimum

You can’t just sit back, watch as if life were a cinema

LearnServe tells you to be bothered, stay bothered!

We’ve all heard the story, great, well here’s a pen, a journal, reflect, now rewrite that story, you are the author.

No no no, don’t just retweet, repost or share it

Raising awareness is good but we don’t stop at contributing to the next trending topic,

we’re going to get our hands dirty, dig into BOTTOM the issue until we get to its ROOTS

I’ve always admired LearnServe’s motto

I mean think about it. The world is too small to not think big.

The world may scream “you’re too young, too poor, too black, too privileged, too Latino too

Culturally competent, too “woke” too “insert strengthening characteristic here”

to make you believe diminishing yourself is a favor to the world

but guess what?

Here at LearnServe we don’t do favors, we make social change.

As you venture out into the world please remember that not all those who say they help, uplift

LearnServe is unique please remember to be of service because it is who you are

Please remember that this passion is rare and those unwilling to be part of the revolution will see you as a threat.

Lastly, congratulations LearnServe students, congratulations on being the change you’ve been waiting to see in there world.

There’s “beauty in the struggle” and it starts with you.

LearnServe Zambia 2017: Revisiting Greenpop (7/8)

Today has by far been the most relaxed “service day” we’ve had this entire trip! Since this is the last leg, the bulk of our service had already been done. Yesterday, we went over to the Mukuni Village Primary School, and brought over supplies in order to be completely responsible for painting one of the buildings (both inside 3 classrooms and outside the building itself). We planned to paint for one day, but because we did not finish we returned the following morning to finish the job. Luckily all we had left to do was basic finishing touches, and one outside wall. Our trip leaders had promised us the rest of the day for rest and free time (which was extremely exciting to hear, as we have been working and been very busy everyday of this trip thus far).

We were also promised one other thing a revisit to GreenPop! Personally, I was not one of the students that particularly enjoyed the whole GreenPop experience. I think it was due to the camping aspect. On top of that, we suffered very, very cold nights. Coming into it I thought to myself ‘this can’t be that bad, we are from Maryland, we have experienced cold winters.’ I was wrong. This. This was a new level of cold, especially when you are the one sleeping outside.

Aside from that, my favorite part of the GreenPop experience was how I got a chance to meet a few new good friends who were also staying at GreenPop from Cape Town, South Africa. I got a chance to develop very good friendships and connections that made it almost impossible and very emotional for me to have to say goodbye. That is why for me, hearing that we were going back to GreenPop to attend the talent show and the dance party was absolutely exhilarating! When we finally got there that night, you could instantly feel the genuine happiness the rest of GreenPop had seeing the LearnServe group once again. I particularly was beyond excited to see the 4 good friends I made from Cape Town: Jade, Cerys, Abby, and Ilham. Two of them actually happened to be performing that night in the talent show as we cheered them on singing Ed Sheeran’s ‘A-Team.’ After the talent show, it was the last time all the participants of GreenPop  (including us from LearnServe) were together having a carefree good time. We danced, sang, and enjoyed each other’s company. This is what made this goodbye extra hard. GreenPop has made me a more humble person, and I will forever be appreciative of that and for the new South African friends I made who I definitely plan on keeping in touch with.

Yagass B., Sandy Spring Friends School 

LearnServe Zambia 2016, Day 4: We Should All Be United

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 – The activities we did today at Greenpop were fun for me and helpful to the local community. We planted trees in a field next to a church that was founded by a couple from Bethesda, Maryland. These trees would help supply food for people that have a hard time getting food. We made holes for the plants, watered the plants, and learned about the land. The work was difficult especially in the heat. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated this much. While the work I’ve been doing with Greenpop has been rewarding, the friends I’m making has been eye-opening.

The other students at Greenpop are from around the world. I and my American peers have gotten to communicate with Zambians, Japanese and South Africans from Cape Town and Johannesburg. It has been fun learning about their favorite celebrities, popular music artists, how they pronounce words, and the type of hobbies they do back home. I’m learning that The United States is a fantasy land, and a television show to them and many non-Americans. Many Zambians see America as a great and perfect place, but it’s really not. They base that idea on the accomplishments, media, international status, and how others adore America. They’ll ask me, “How’s life in America?” and when I give them an honest answer their body language changes because what they have been told wasn’t completely true. The South Africans teens were very excited to meet us and we had fun comparing our lives. We both have the life of an ordinary teenager, but tragedy doesn’t come to South Africa as in America. Tragic events are normal to Americans to a point that we are not surprised when something bad happens.   The South Africans heard major news like 9/11 and the shooting in Orlando, but when they hear common news like school shootings, murders, robberies, and police brutality they are shocked because they say it isn’t normal for their country. They really love American culture, but don’t understand complete American reality. However, the South Africans love watching CNN because they get the opportunity to laugh at Donald Trump, as do I.

I’m having fun and learning a lot. To bring a great cause is the main objective here and I am truly glad I came. This trip has warmed my heart and made me happier, to the point that I want to express my love for world and bring joy to it because we’re all human and we should be united.

Peace to the world,

Markel M., Friendship Tech Prep Public Charter School

LearnServe Zambia 2016, Day 2: Sliding By On So Little

IMG_3671Sunday, Jue 26 – It was a new day here in Zambia. I thought that today was not going to be as exciting as yesterday because we were just going on a bus ride to Green Pop, the summer-camp-type service project that we are doing. However, I could not have been more wrong. I was able to see what life was like outside of the city. What really struck me was that there were always people wherever you were, whether in a small town or on the side of the road. I saw people biking alongside speeding cars, kids playing just a few feet away from the road, people were selling charcoal everywhere. People can find a way to live anywhere, I realized today.

I was talking to Josh, and he said that the one stereotype of Africa that he expected to be wrong was that tons of people lived in small, grass or brick huts, but there were tons of them. It was crazy to see how different the standard of living is here verses in the US. The people in the huts had made a life for themselves. They had gardens that they worked on; some had cars, most had bikes. The Zambians seem to be sliding by on so little, they can survive on almost nothing it seems. We always need a little extra from our basic needs in the US. But because of that we can have luxuries like air conditioning in all homes, constant electricity, running water, etc.

This trip is going really well. I am having a great time. Zambia is unlike anything I have ever known.

Peace and Love,

Harris M., Washington Latin Public Charter School

Learning to Walk

Lessons in Entrepreneurship from a 15-month-old

Last week my 15-month-old son decided to learn to walk.  Step one: standing.  He bends his knees, arches his back, and pushes up with his hands.  Shifting weight from one foot to another – like an urban surfer balancing himself on solid floor – he teeters for 2 or 3 seconds.  And then falls – hard – on his bottom.  Without missing a beat he looks up at us, grins, laughs, and applauds himself vigorously.

Ask any established entrepreneurs their advice for an aspiring entrepreneur, and they’ll all give you the same answer: fail fast.  Entrepreneurs wear their failures like a badge of honor.  It means you’ve taken a risk, tried something new.  They extol the importance of overcoming fears and inhibitions.  They embrace each failure as a learning opportunity – the source of a new insight, a new chance to improve.  As one LearnServe parent wrote me last spring, “Failure can be a better teacher than success.”

At the same time, the failure fad risks becoming a fetish – an end in itself.  Geoff Lewis, writing last December in the Washington Post, acknowledged that “America’s tolerance for failure stands in admirable contrast to cultures where a single failure automatically destroys your life.”  Yet he cautioned against “‘Failure’ as fast fashion, peddled by wildly successful people, packaged for mass consumption.”  Failure is real, he reminds, and it can be devastating.  Lewis encourages us to strike a balance: to “fear [failure] enough to try hard to succeed, yet not so much that we don’t attempt new things.”

Though they may celebrate their failures, most entrepreneurs don’t aspire for failure.  They embrace failure in their dogged pursuit of excellence.

Which brings me back to my 15-month-old.  After falling hard, grinning, laughing, and applauding himself vigorously, my son picks himself right back up and tries again.  He wants to stand.  He wants to walk.  But he’s able to find humor in the process, and something to celebrate in each attempt.

As we each dive into our entrepreneurial pursuits, we would all do well to channel our inner 15-month-old.  Don’t let our inhibitions overcome our aspirations.  Aspire for excellence.  Learn from each attempt.  And enjoy the process.

~ by Scott Rechler

On 5 years of shaping more conscious citizens

“You have to learn before you serve,” reflected Julia (Fellows 2011) as she began her application for a Fulbright Research Fellowship to Morocco earlier this month.

 

A simple concept.  Yet a hard one to master.

 

On July 1, we will mark 5 years of serving as Directors of LearnServe International.  Every day, through our international and social entrepreneurship programs, we work to facilitate such “a-ha” moments for our students.  The difference between “doing for” and “doing with.”  The acknowledgement that innovation starts with understanding.  That you must learn before you can serve.

 

We knew then, and we know now, that these lessons don’t sink in immediately.  Each year, our team plants the seeds of social innovation and civic engagement that take root over time.  Indeed, Julia herself is a graduate of the 2011 LearnServe Fellows Program — the first set of students to complete the program after we began as directors.  In her reflections earlier this month, Julia shared that this humility, “this less-glamorous, less entitled understanding of civic engagement began at LearnServe.”

 

Julia concluded, “This is yet another example of the way LearnServe stays with us and grows with us and continues to make us more conscious citizens long after the program officially ends.”

 

(In case you missed it in our last email, our recently completed long-term impact assessment sheds light on the insights and opportunities LearnServe has opened forJulia and students like her over the last 10 years.)

 

Learning before serving does not only capture our programmatic philosophy.  It also frames how we have approached our own work as leaders of the organization over the past 5 years.  We are grateful for the students, teachers, families, colleagues, volunteers, and friends who have taught us so much along the way:

 

  • Your insights are reflected in the lesson plans and mentorship model that guides our Fellows as they launch their social ventures.
  • They are reflected in the introduction to international development our students receive before they board the plane to travel overseas.
  • They helped shape our new LearnServe Incubator, an opportunity for Fellows to continue their formal social entrepreneurship training, and further their ventures.
  • And they guide us as we seek opportunities to deepen our impact within partner schools, and strengthen LearnServe’s sustainability, by bringing our approach to social innovation education into the classroom.

Thank you for teaching us so much these past five years, and we are excited to serve alongside you as we welcome our new classes of LearnServe students in the fall.

Wishing you a restful summer,
     
                 Scott Rechler                                         Sabine Keinath
 

Paraguay Day 3 – “My Heart Will Go On”

Emily Epstein headshot July 27, 2015 – Everyone here in Caraparegua, Paraguay treats those of us from the United States as friends and family.  It feels like I already know people when I meet them because they’re so warm-hearted and welcoming.  I’ve gotten accustomed to the greeting of being kissed once on each cheek instead of the rigid hand shake and forced smile in my home of Washington, D.C.  People look out for you here and expect the same.  In place of petty one-upping and competition, there is love, appreciation and friendship. The skies are prettier and the community is closer.  I love walking down the calles (streets) of Carapargua with my host brother and sister every morning and afternoon to and from school.  We teach each other new words in our native languages (English or Spanish) such as “the moon” which is “la luna” in Spanish and discussing both how different and similar our lives are.

Today, on the third and final day, my sister and I sang “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic together in unison and used a google translator to explain certain words, expressions or ideas we couldn’t get across in Spanish because of my minimal speaking ability.  We discussed our friends, families, and even traditions such as her culture’s celebrations of a diseased family member every 6 months (in this case of her grandfather).

I didn’t understand how important it is to share cultures until these special, rare moments with my second family.  My sister Pamela has especially opened my eyes to a totally different world.  She understands me better than some English speakers do.  Despite the language barriers we have gotten to know each other’s likes and dislikes, aspirations, experiences, and feelings in the span of 3 days.  As we shed tears and hugged, I felt a sense of safety in a totally foreign country.  When I started to wonder if everything I’ve learned would disappear after returning to the U.S., I looked at the photos and my reflections and realized that this experience is changing my view on my own life and the global community and will continue to feed my curiosity about places outside of my little D.C. bubble.

Emily Epstein, Washington International School

Jamaica 2015, Day 3 – Keep Walking

Ryan YangJune 26, 2015 – Today was the day. The impending notorious hike (12am-5am) to the peak of Blue Mountain made me nervous but brought me the excitement we sometimes get when we face a new challenge.  I construed the beautifully laid out stars in the night sky of Blue Mountain as a foreshadowing of a grand, but benign journey we were about to begin. This thought could not have lasted any shorter. Ten minutes into walking uphill, I began to fathom how arduous this hike was going to be. My calves were screaming in pain, and the anguish in my thighs belied the pleasant ambience the mountain had initially created for me. Under the circumstance, I even began to think that the Jamaican residents and our advisers, who told us how the experience would be so fulfilling and joyful, were culpable of “misinforming” us. However, I did not have the luxury of complaining for long, as the aching in my legs screamed for my immediate and undivided attention. I made an abortive attempt to alleviate the pain by walking in a different way, listening to music, and emptying my mind. Unfortunately, the pain did not subside and the situation seemed abysmal to say the least. Each minute felt like ten, and the chronic pain in my legs and the shortness of breath due to the high altitude of Blue Mountain made me question: “is the experience really worth all this?”

Despite such adversities, I somehow managed to convince myself to continue on. In fact, I had to; I had passed the point of no return. Although being not very familiar with quotes and maxims, my brain somehow dug up a quote from the back of my mind, as it was desperately searching for some motivation. Reminding myself of Winston Churchill’s quote that goes something like “if you are going through hell, keep walking”; I walked in silence, step by step, until I finally reached the peak. After four hours of walking through hell, I finally reached the summit, what seemed to be a heaven on earth. I forgot about the pain and each tree, grass, and cloud (which was below our level as we were so high in altitude) congregated to create a beautiful scenery which I will never forget. The difficult hike made the experience and its “reward” a hundred times as valuable as it would have been without it. The scenery of the sun rising on the horizon, beyond hundreds of hill and thousands of miles, was simply subliminal.

After coming down from the peak, we left the village around at 4pm. Although I had only stayed in Blue Mountain village for three days, I felt at home there and had built a close relationship with Marilyn(mother of our host family; her food was simply amazing) and her son Naquin(he loves to play soccer and listen to music on my phone). So, the farewell elicited a lot of thoughts and emotions that were not too dramatic, but considerably sentimental. The people in the village are also very genuine and I have never experienced anything quite like this (in terms of building relationship) before.  I cannot speak for all Jamaicans, but this may be due to the village’s abstinence from an excess use of technology that hinders the building of true “down to earth” human relationships, or due to Jamaican culture in general(we will see over the rest of our trip). Regardless, the experiences and the lessons I learned over the past couple days are invaluable, and I hope to visit again in the future if I have the chance and reconnect with the people and Blue Mountain.

Janghoon( Ryan) Yang, Sidwell Friends School

 

Tracing Innovation

Introducing the 2015 LearnServe Innovation Award Winners

The person next to you on the Metro sneezes.  Was it allergies?  The flu?  Something worse?  As the scenarios race through your mind, they boil down to one question: Will I get sick too?

Now there’s an app for that.

Meet Rohan Suri, founder of kTrace, a tool that is changing how we fight epidemics.  The primary tool used to fight epidemics — think Ebola, measles, or flu — is to identify and isolate all contacts of an infected individual.  But can you really remember everyone you saw over three weeks, before you begin exhibiting any symptoms?  And what about the strangers you encountered, but can never identify?

The app kTrace uses Bluetooth technology to record who you come into contact with, and for how long.  When a user reports feeling unwell, patients and medical professionals can authorize kTrace to send a notification to all contacted individuals so they can monitor their own health, and seek immediate medical attention before they infect others.  (The app is available for Android here.)

Rohan is a winner of the 2015 LearnServe Innovation Award (Fairfax County category).  He represents one of the 46 student teams led by LearnServe Fellows from across the DC Metro area who pitched their social venture ideas at the 6th Annual LearnServe Panels and Venture Fair on Thursday, April 23 at the Maret School.

Winners of the Innovation Award receive pro bono professional consultations from professionals at Deloitte, ICF International, M&T Bank, and Social Driver.

 

MEET THE WINNERS

DC | Winner, DC Public and Charter Schools Category

Jamese Mangum, Black Girls Love STEM Too

Washington Math Science Technology Public Charter High School

Jamese looks at the lack of African American women in the STEM field, and realizes that unless we intervene early in the pipeline — at the middle and high school level — this pattern will continue to repeat itself.  Black Girls Love STEM Too offers a tiered solution: established professionals will share their experiences with the young women at her school; these high school students will in turn visit elementary and middle schools to inspire, teach, and mentor the girls there.  They will share the stories of successful African American women in STEM, and host career fairs to expose students to potential career opportunities.

 

DC | Runner-Up, DC Public and Charter Schools Category

Brendan Epton, District Grinding

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

Brendan watches his peers struggling to find jobs, and discouraged by a staggering unemployment rate: 14.2% for young people ages 16-24.  The equivalent figure is 21.4% for African Americans.  He realizes that DC youth who need jobs need two things: a) the skills to find jobs, and b) the people who can help them secure those jobs.  District Grinding teaches students how to fill out job applications, dress for interviews, and communicate in interviews.  Already he has lined up representatives from Safeway and Target to meet with him and his peers.

 

MD | Winner, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Public Schools

Chimey Sonam, Parallels Project

Montgomery Blair

Early in Chimey’s childhood, interaction with peers from outside her cultural bubble opened her eyes and broadened her perspective.  Yet she sees too many students in her county attending schools and living in neighborhoods that are racially and socio-economically homogenous.  The Parallels Project will bring together middle school students from different backgrounds, to create a space where they can embrace diversity and connect with peers outside their comfort zones.

 

MD | Runner-Up, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Public Schools

Ishaan Parikh, KAST: Advanced

Montgomery Blair

For Ishaan, inspiration came the moment his sister — a student at a magnet math and science program — came home and declared “I hate science.”  KAST: Advanced builds on Kids Are Scientists Too, a non-profit founded four years ago by then LearnServe Fellow Jessica Yang.  KAST offers fun, free, and interactive scientific education to elementary school students, inspiring them to pursue careers in science.  KAST: Advanced expands this model to middle school students.  KAST: Advanced programs have already taken root at Takoma Park Middle School, and will be spreading across Montgomery County.

 

VA | Winner, Fairfax County Public Schools

Rohan Suri, kTrace

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Concerned about recent outbreaks of Ebola, measles, and flu, Rohan wondered whether technology might empower ordinary citizens to slow the spread of disease.  Most epidemics are mapped through contact tracing — asking each infected individual to remember who he or she has had recent contact with, and then isolating those individuals.  kTrace uses bluetooth technology to facilitate this process, alerting known acquaintances who might have been overlooked, as well as random strangers that were in close proximity, that they might have been exposed to the disease.

 

VA | Runner-up, Fairfax County Public Schools

Raman Khanna, S2S Nutrition

George Marshall

For Raman, it all boils down to nutrition and healthy choices.  He has grown increasingly concerned about the obesity epidemic raging in the United States: 1 in 3 kids are overweight or obese; they are more likely to be obese as adults; and they face a significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease.  Fairfax County’s Program of Studies touches on the importance of exercise in its 7th and 8th grade standards, but barely touches nutrition — not even to explain the county’s own All Star Lunch Program or the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines.  S2S offers a unique student-to-student approach to nutrition education, helping elementary and middle school students make healthy choices.

 

IND | Winner, Independent Schools

Gaia Jinsi, GirlsGoLearn

Holton-Arms

Girls coming from all-girls schools are 3 times as likely to become engineers, score up to 50 points higher on the SAT, and are more likely to pursue graduate studies than girls in co-educational environments.  Girls in co-educational environments, therefore, may not be receiving the education that they need or deserve.  GirlsGoLearn plans to partner with DC public and charter schools to bring safe, all-girls learning environments to DC girls through weekend and after-school academic and enrichment opportunities.

 

IND | Runner-up, Independent Schools

Ryan Hunt, Easy BAC

French International School

Every day, nearly 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.  In 2013, 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes, and 290,000 were injured.  For Ryan, these statistics are personal: several months ago, four high school students — including one on Ryan’s swim team — were hit by a drunk driver while their car was pulled over on the side of the highway.  Easy BAC is a smartphone app that assesses blood alcohol content, and lets users know whether they should be driving or not.  Users enter their gender, weight, type and number of drinks, and over what period of time, and the calculator estimates blood alcohol levels.  An alarm function allows users to set a time to be reminded to use the calculator.  The app also points users to alternative transportation options available, offering a simple and easy approach to avoiding drunk driving.

 
Inspired by what you’ve read?  Consider a gift to LearnServe.  Contributions will prepare us to kick off training for a brand new cohort of LearnServe Fellows in September!  Donate online at www.learn-serve.org/donate.
 
 
 

 

Remembering Sam Murray

It is with great sadness that we share that Sam Murray, LearnServe Paraguay ’09, passed away last week in Massachusetts.  We celebrate Sam as a passionate, vivacious, hard-working student — ready to dive head-first into new experiences, poised to reflect deeply on what he had learned, and eager to make a difference in the lives of others.  Sam graduated from Bell Multicultural High School (DCPS), and continued on to Tufts to pursue his passion in international affairs.  Over the years he remained a dedicated friend and champion of LearnServe.

In his honor and memory, we are reprinting excerpts from his 2009 LearnServe Paraguay blog, and the college essay he wrote based on these experiences (which he proudly shared with LearnServe):

Sam Murray, second from left.

Sam Murray, second from left.

“Poverty, in Paraguay at least, is a mindset, a mental barrier – which has affected none of the people I have met. Those who have lacked material possessions are persons of character, strength, determination and people who have experienced pure joy, though their needs surely surpass anything I have seen in the States. In numerous ways I envy their happiness and collectiveness. The children with whom I have been partnered work in cold, wet, seemingly unlivable conditions, right alongside Americans, without complaints or whines. Some of their feet hang outside of their shoes and get dirtied by the mud. As I observe their work I want to swallow my desire to quit and follow in their footsteps. I have come to lead and teach, yet I gain many lessons in humanity.”

“During my two and a half week community service endeavor there were many instances in which I learned more about myself, my country, and life. Perhaps the biggest breakthrough came about while I was wrestling with a friend and ripped my pants. Naturally I was quite ashamed and made my best attempts to hide my obviously ripped pants. They were torn on the seam at the crotch all the way down to the kneecaps. My response to my concerned companions who offered to mend my pants was simple, “It’s ok, I have plenty more pants and I’ll just throw these away, it’s no big deal!” After continuous conversation and harassment I allowed one of the adults in the community to fix my torn pants. As I sat in his house and ate the lunch his family prepared he went straight to work at sewing what I thought were unfixable pants. After twenty minutes or so he came to the table presented me with my clothing and to my surprise it looked as if it were brand new. If I had money I would have offered it to him as compensation. When I offered to pay him the next day he denied it for several reasons which I attributed to pride. Typically, an American social normality for an act of generosity is a monetary award. It was not until a later conversation that I realized that this man’s intentions for helping me were not based on money; his act of kindness was of friendship and compassion.”

exploring asuncion-photo by sam t

“My experiences have helped me to come to the realization that life should be shared and adored and that one must make the day his own. Paraguay has exceeded my greatest expectations and has helped to change my mindset to one of continuous generosity, not out of a feeling of superiority but one of unity.”

Sam, you will be missed.  May your lessons in humility, humor and gratitude be an inspiration to all of us — and may we all find our own ways to share and adore life, to make each day our own.