Category Archives: Uncategorized

7 Months of #missingmarting

Dear Miss Moo,

Can you tell the real story on your blog about Martin and that poster? Tell how we learned about peace and ahimsa. Tell the part about Trayvon Martin and walking with Mr. Constantino. Tell about us walking like Gandhi did for the Salt March.  Talk about why peace and ahimsa are important. Talk about our Top 10 wall. And also, can you come back and teach peace again? You were supposed to teach me all about what you learned while you were in India. I want to finish learning about peace because not everyone gets it so I want to help teach it like you did to me. You were always telling us that the more ahimsakas, the better…right? I wish you were still teaching, Miss Moo. It’s just not the same without you.

I received this email a few days ago from one of my ahimsakas. The timing was interesting to me because I had just come back from spending a few days with some good friends, and I was talking with them about whether teaching peace matters in the long run – whether anything I taught was ever going to be important to anyone. When I read this email, I realized that teaching peace does matter.

I will do my best to tell the “real” story about the photo of Martin, but I want to encourage my ahimsakas to tell the story too, because really it’s your story to tell. You are the ones who helped create and make the story. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. I think most people remember this tragic story so I won’t go into more detail. A friend of mine, Bobby (the kids called him Mr. Constantino) was planning a march on foot from Boston to Sanford, FL in protest to the fact that at the time, George Zimmerman had not been arrested.  His march was modeled after James Meredith’s 1966 March Against Fear, when he started out alone from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS to protest segregation and other forms of racism. ImageImage

As timing would have it, my second graders had been learning about The Salt March, which was based upon Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent protest called satyagraha, which he loosely translated as “truth-force.” The Salt March was an important part of the Indian independence movement and was a direct action campaign of nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India.

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It has been noted that the satyagraha teachers of Gandhi and The Salt March had a significant influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s.

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Bobby began his march in Boston and my classroom was his first stop on his first full day of walk. (To read his reflection about that day, you can read his blog post about it here.) It was that morning that Martin created that poster. And I remember sitting with him while he was carefully picking out which color markers he was going to use – “The hearts have to be red, Miss Moo, because it’s love.” I also remember his poster started off with one peace sign, but right before we walked out the door, he added one more. He said, “Love and peace are equal.” Once everyone had a poster, the entire class walked with Bobby for a few blocks and helped him get started on his walk to Florida. That is pretty much the story behind the poster.

The writer of the email above asked me to talk about why peace and ahimsa matter. I think if you were in my class you already know why it matters. I told you over and over again that one of the ways to help make the world a better place is to love others – even when its hard.  We reminded each other everyday as we read our Gandhi wall which had:

“Gandhi’s Top 10 Things for Changing the World”

  1. Change: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
  2. Control: “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
  3. Forgiveness: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”
  4. Action: “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
  5. The present moment: “I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present.”
  6. Everyone is human: “It is unwise to be unsure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
  7. Persist: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
  8. Goodness: “I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
  9. Truth: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

10. Development: “Constant development is the law of life.”

Lastly, I wanted to say that I am humbled you miss having me as a teacher, but I know for a fact that you are in a school full of wonderful teachers so I think you should focus on what they have to teach you, because I can guarantee you will learn a lot. As for teaching peace, it’s something that everyone can do. That’s why we called ourselves ahimsakas – because we were always learning from and teaching others about nonviolence and peace. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to have books or be a grown-up to help others learn. You can teach others by your actions and the way you treat others. And at first, there will be many people to don’t “get it”, but if you are intentional in treating others with love and peace, they will experience that and ultimately, that is what matters.  Martin was really good at loving others and promoting peace, so let’s do continue what he started. “No more hurting people. Peace.”

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State of Grace (Dedicated to Martin Richard)

Dear Martin,

Mr. Anglin finished the video for “State of Grace”, the song written for and dedicated to you. It was such an honor to be a part of this video project. I hope we all represented you well…this is for you, my friend. We miss you everyday, but know that you continue to inspire us everyday as we pledge to spread you message of peace, love, and ahimsa.

Much love,
Miss Moo
#stateofgrace #bostonstrong #bostonandbeyond #missingmartin

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6 Months of #missingmartin

A few days ago I received an email and here is part of what it said:

“Miss Moo, it’s going to be 6 months on Tuesday. 6 months without my best friend Martin. Why does it feel like it’s been forever? Is it bad that I can’t remember having him here? I want to. I want him to come back”

In the spirit of honesty, I initially didn’t know how to react, so I couldn’t write back straightaway. I shared this portion of the email with a friend and he told me, “That is sorrow.” As I mulled over both the email and my friend’s comment, I realized he was right. And I also realized that I felt ill-equipped to explain what sorrow means. It is different than being sad – sadness is more of a temporary feeling. You might feel sad when you don’t get Student Spotlight the week you think you should, or maybe you’re sad that it’s raining and your soccer game got canceled. But eventually, things get better and you forget the sad feelings. Sorrow is different- it’s like a sadness that stays with you longer – you might have moments when you feel better, but then other times you feel really sad all over again. The dictionary defines ‘sorrow’ as “deep distress or sadness- especially for the loss of someone loved.” As I was contemplating how to explain sorrow, I thought about the book we read together, Because of Winn-Dixie. I know it’s been a while, but I’m sure most of you remember the story. At one point, Opal is remembering her mother:

“Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be.”

I think Opal was experiencing sorrow when it came to recalling her mother. And I think similarly, all of us are experiencing sorrow when we remember Martin. Time after time we feel that empty space where we want him to still be. And while we have lots of great, happy memories of Martin, sometimes these same memories can cause us to feel deep sadness.  In the last few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about what Martin would say if he knew we were all experiencing sorrow from missing him. I think he would probably start off saying, “Guys, the Sox tied it up…you should be happy!” I think he would also say something like, “Don’t be sad because you miss me…instead, go and love people who need it.”
I’ve recently been finding myself wanting to hear from Martin…wishing he was with me and I could talk with him. The closest I could come to that was to read over some writing he did when he was in my class. I found the following piece he wrote about a dream he had for the world to help make it a better place. I wanted to share it with you, because I think it really speaks to what Martin would want us to do – to go out and bring peace to help make the world a happier place. In your moments of deep sadness, I hope his voice can help console you, and also inspire you to not stay in the sorrow, but instead be prompted to help fulfill his dream. I promise to do it and I hope you will too – we can do it together.

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Happy Birthday, Gandhiji!!

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Today (October 2) is Gandhi’s birthday! In honor of that, it is also International Day of Nonviolence. While there are several noteworthy Gandhi quotes, this one was in my head when I woke up this morning:

“Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.”

I hope everyone has a fantastic day filled with ahimsa, peace, and love!

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Pockets of Joy

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“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

Recently, I’ve had several conversations with friends about experiencing “pockets of joy.” The phrase itself was new to me until I heard my friend use it, but I understand what it means – finding moments (pockets) of time when you feel true joy.  I was trying to figure out how to distinguish between feeling happy and having joy, so I went to the one place that helps me define things: the dictionary.  Merriam-Webster defines happy as ‘favored by luck or fortune’ and defines joy as ‘a feeling of great happiness.’ For me, joy is something much deeper than just being happy – it’s a space that allows you to be completely free.  I think that sometimes there is a misconception of where joy comes from – like it has to be the result of a big, extravagant event or moment.  But I know for me, not only do these pockets of joy come when I least expect them, they are usually found in the simple, quiet moments. I think this is part of what distinguishes times of happiness from experiences of joy.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to really cherish the simpler things like quality time with friends and appreciating the beauty of nature, and it’s been in those moments that I have found pockets of joy.

Since the marathon bombings, I can say that I’ve had some happy moments, but I also have to admit that I have not been able to experience many pockets of joy.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but circumstances have made it significantly harder to have that feeling. I was fortunate to stumble upon some pockets over the summer – watching July 4th fireworks with some friends in LA, learning from incredible ahimsakas in Nashville, and being with incredible people in DC.  Sometimes the joy has been fleeting, but it was there and I remember it.  And the memories of these moments has been what’s helped me get through the more challenging emotional roller coaster of the last 5 months.

I feel fortunate to have just experienced one incredible pocket of joy last weekend.  A dear friend from college who lives on the west coast was in Boston for an event. The honest truth is that I wasn’t anticipating getting to spend any time with him since he had so much going on.  As it turns out, I was gifted with a ‘pocket of joy’ while he was here. I got to spend some much-needed time chatting, hanging out, and enjoyed just being with him.  When it came time for him to head back to the west coast, while I was sad to say good-bye, I felt incredibly grateful and happy that I was able to have the time I did with him. 

Unfortunately, later that same day, I had an experience that occurred under some very unusual circumstances, and as a result, I felt like that feeling of joy was taken from me faster than it took for me to acquire it. I was frustrated, angry and crushed that I had such a great weekend, and then that joyful feeling was gone in a blink.  I was sharing with some other friends my frustrations around the unfortunate experience and how it made me feel, and I got an email from one who wrote and asked me, “Do you think you could recall what made your weekend so great? Or more importantly, what it FELT like to be happy?”  The email went on to share about the idea of “marking moments of happy as you come across them during the day,” which is something I hope to create into a habit. So I started this practice by answering her first questions about what made the weekend so great. Here are some things that stood out to me:

One thing I appreciated about time with my friend was the fact that neither of us were in a rush – as he said, “I’m not going anywhere,” and just knowing that I wasn’t under any time constraint was freeing.  I didn’t feel like I was being squeezed in between some other things he had to get to – I felt like he made the choice to hang out with me, and he was okay with it.  A second thing that is highlighted in my mind is that we were both present and very much not distracted by anything – even the constant frenzy of our phones was put to the side so we could actually listen to and hear each other.  Knowing that what I had to say was being heard was a powerful and meaningful thing for me.  The third thing that stood out to me was the fact that we were in the same physical place. I have been blessed with friends who live literally all over the world, and while it is exciting, nothing can replace being in the same physical space as a friend.  Living on opposite coasts makes this a challenge for us, so it was a gift to actually see him while we were talking and hanging out. All three of these things – not feeling rushed, not being distracted, and being in the same physical space –put together were what created this incredible pocket of joy. And I’m grateful for the email from my friend who asked those questions, because upon reflection, I was able to claim that joy back.

Another friend of mine said, “I think you have to recognize that you also provided some joy for him too.  Somewhere else, he is having a conversation with someone or is reflecting on how great it was to be able to spend time with you.” I never considered it from that perspective before.  I was so grateful for what a gift he had given me, that I never weighed the possibility that I could do the same thing for someone else.  After taking that into account, I realized that I want to be able to give joy to others as well, and that helped me reframe looking at joy.

One last thought about this pocket of joy from last weekend.  There were some photos posted on various social media outlets during my west coast friend’s big event.  The interesting part is I had multiple people say to me that they could see the joy on my face from photos that were posted.  They spoke about how my face, my smile, how I carried myself looked different because the joy I was experiencing was coming through in the photos.  In reflecting on these comments that were made to me, I think it’s all linked to the elements I mentioned before about what made the weekend so joyful.  But most importantly, it’s being in the same physical space that even made those photos possible. I am grateful to have those photos as a way to mark the moments of happiness and help me remember what the joy felt like.

I came across this image a few days ago and I think it precisely sums up what I need to do, in order to be able to experience more joy. I hope that you will all join me on life’s journey – things are always better when you can do them with others.

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5 Months of #missingmartin

I have intentionally avoided writing about the bombings and what happened to our friend Martin on this blog, because I know many of my students read this, and many of those students are Martin’s friends and classmates. I guess I’ve been trying to avoid any more sad feelings for any of you – I wanted to give you time and space to process things on your own without me saying anything.  I did receive an email last week though, in which someone wrote, “Miss Moo, how come you never talk about Martin? I keep waiting for you to say something about him. You’re always telling us to talk about how we’re feeling, but you stopped doing that with us.” When I read those words the first time, I literally couldn’t take my eyes off them. I realized that it was true…that maybe I wasn’t being completely honest because I wanted to guard you from feeling anymore sadness than necessary.

The truth is, not one day goes by that I haven’t thought about Martin – not one single day. Whenever I see a Pedroia shirt or a Bruins jersey, I think of him. When I run past the Savin Hill baseball fields or the flag football field, I think of Martin.  When I run past his house or NHCS, I think of him.  And sometimes – a lot of times – thoughts of him just pop into my head. And I miss him. A lot.  And when I think of him, I think of all of my ahimsakas. Which means I think about all of you as much as I think about him…every single day. 

When I think about all of you, I remember how you all wanted to become true ahimsakas and use peace to help “be the change” that Gandhi talked about. As I think about all of you, some new friends I met in August now come to mind. We met at conference (like a big meeting) in Nashville, and everyone there were organizers and activistst from all over the country, who are trying to bring justice to everyone who doesn’t have it, but they will only do it using nonviolence.  They too, are ahimsakas, striving for peace and justice, and remembering that loving others is the only way that we can be the change we want to see in the world.  When I think about Martin – and all of you – I think about these new friends of mine, because I think you would enjoy hearing about all of the ways they are trying to make the world a better place…they want to leave a place better than they found it. This is something I know was really important to Martin, and so when I miss him, I remember my friends around the country who are carrying out exactly what he would be doing if he was here.

I’m including a photo of the peace rally we held outside of city hall, so that my new friends can see who you all are.  And I’m also including a photo of the friends I met in Nashville so you can see their faces.  I hope one day you will be fortunate enough to cross paths. The community of ahimsakas is growing, and together we can carry Martin’s message of “No More Hurting People. Peace.”

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Remembering 9/11…12 Years Later

Yes, I realize this is a day late, but I wasn’t compelled to write until today. Yesterday was spent plugging “State of Grace” by Natural. (Please see yesterday’s post for more info.)

The tragedy of 9/11 has never really completely left my mind, nor do I expect it to. The events from that day are forever etched into my mind with such detail, it’s almost frightening. Like most people, I don’t like talking about it, because it’s hard to re-live and process all the emotions that go along with it. While I know several people who were lucky enough to not be affected, I do know several people who died, including a few people from my high school.  I remember the nightmare of trying to locate my dad, knowing his company was on one of the top floors of the second building. I remember instantly being brought back to the bombing of ’93 when we waited literally ALL DAY before we heard word that my dad had made it out safely – after walking down 103 stories in the dark as part of  human chain.  9/11 is a day I will never forget. This year though…remembering it this year feels different. I think it’s because I’m still processing the marathon bombings…it’s only been 5 months. What happened on April 15, 2013 directly impacted me on a personal level – more so than 9/11. But remembering the aftermath of September 11, 2001 feels more somber this year.

Yesterday I read a lot of posts of people’s reflections from that day 12 years ago…and the feelings remain quite fresh for some. The students that were in my class that day are now seniors in high school. I am fortunate to still be in touch with a good number of them. Whenever I hear from one of them, I remember 9/11 because that day forever changed me as a teacher.  I remember being outside on the blacktop, not knowing anything had happened, and suddenly seeing and hearing fighter jets fly overhead. As my kids stopped playing and we all looked up to watch them, I wouldn’t understand the significance behind those jets for a few more minutes.  Looking back, I wish the innocence and genuine excitement behind their viewing of the jets could have lasted for forever. “Look how fast they’re going, Miss Moo!”  I remember watching them for the next several months as they “played” out the tragic events in their own way. In the block area they would build two towers of blocks and then take toy planes and have them crash into the towers. Their drawings and writing had similar themes and I remember being heartbroken thinking that this was real scenario for them – that growing up this would be a defining moment of their childhood. 

I also can’t think about 9/11 without recognizing that the ultimate outcome of all of this madness was war. I have never been a supporter of war, but my study of nonviolence over the last several years has given me a deeper understanding as to why war – or any act of violence – is never the answer.  My hope is that somehow, some way, we can begin the journey of healing, and that along the way, we will all experience some peace.

 

 

 

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“State of Grace” release

This post comes courtesy of my friend Nat (a.k.a., Natural), who is probably one of the most amazingly talented individuals I have the privilege of calling my friend. Besides being an educator, he is a musical artist, and “State of Grace” is his latest, greatest project. I’ll leave the rest of the post in his words. Please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, smoke signals…however you choose to interact with the world. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

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Boston and Beyond,

It has been almost six months since the Boston Marathon tragedy. In the time since Patriot’s Day, I have spent a huge amount of time reflecting on and thinking about the state of our wonderful city.

From personal connections to the tragedy itself, to the ongoing search for answers during the aftermath, the journey since April has been an arduous one for many. Though tragedy, loss and sorrow have certainly had their place, hallmarks of community have constantly been on display: Remarkable acts of kindness, generosity, empathy and peace.

It is from witnessing these amazing acts from my community in which I drew inspiration for the song “State Of Grace”.

The same elements of community that inspired “State Of Grace” are best exemplified in the memory of Martin Richard. Boston’s proud son was a wonderful little boy who was taken from us far too soon. The unforgettable image of Martin holding a sign urging “peace” serves as an unbelievably strong message and source of inspiration.

“State Of Grace” aims to honor Martin Richard’s memory and to carry forth his philosophy for peace. ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to the Richard Family Fund. (http://richardfamilyfund.org/) Additionally, there will be a benefit concert in the coming months.

We are asking for your help generating awareness and spreading the word in any way you can. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Your past, present and future support is held in the highest of regards. I felt this was the best way I could give back to a community that has inspired me so much. Love, blessings and peace from Boston, Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

        -Natural

@Natural617

www.naturalhiphop.com

facebook.com/naturalhiphop

iTUNES LINK: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/state-grace-feat.-april-stanford/id703753158

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Boston Visits – Summer 2013

This was a rare summer of me staying stateside. I know, I know…I was gone for 6 months, so it make sense to stay put for a while, but I have to say it was VERY strange to be in Boston for the summer.  Fortunately, I had plenty of out-of-town visitors which made the summer so much better!

My first visitor was the fabulous Brenna Graham. Brenna and I go way back to middle school. She currently lives in Baltimore and is now teaching second grade (the best grade ever!!). Her visit brought us up to Rockport for a day – first time for both of us!

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The next visitor was my friend CJ who is a Boston native but left us for brighter days in northern California. While I am extremely happy for his new adventures on the west coast, there is definitely a void in the Bean.

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And then the Fiasco crew hit town!!! I love this family! Becky and I started swimming on the same club team when I was in fourth grade and we have tons of memories to draw upon from the decades of friendship. Despite swimming for colleges in different conferences, we still managed to see each other at various meets. Ralph and Becky had 3 amazing daughters: Kendall (9), Lexi (8) and Toryn (1.5). We had a great time touring some historical sites and we managed to get to a Sox game. This visit was a highlight of the summer for me!

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The next visitor was a huge bonus for me. Back in summer of 2011, I attended the Ahimsa Center Summer Institute at Cal Poly, Pomona. Even more so than the Northeastern Summer Institute this past summer, it was an experience that literally changed me.  Part of what made it so influential were the people I was studying with during my time there. Kristy Smith is one of those educators I had the privilege to learn with and from, and this summer she was in Boston at Tufts University, attending the Fletcher Summer Institute run by the ICNC (International Center on Nonviolent Conflict). That’s a long explanation to say that Kristy – who lives in Oakland – was in Boston!! I was happy to grab some time with her during her busy week!!

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A few weeks later, Ranjan and Amanda came up from NYC. Ranjan and I went to high school together and we have reconnected over the last few years. We all hit SOWA for the first time!

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And the final visitors of the summer…my family! That’s right – the whole entire Moo Tang Clan (including the Mini-Moos) came to Boston for the first time ever! The timing worked out that we were all able to be together for my mom’s birthday. I took way more photos than I think anyone but me should have to sit through, but here are some highlights.

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Thanks to all of my out of town visitors who made summer 2013 a memorable one! And for those reading who are inspired to come visit, just let me know when!!

Northeastern Sports Leadership Summer Institute 2013

In July, I attended a week-long summer institute as part of my program at Northeastern. It was 5-days of being in class from 8:00am-5:00pm with 45 other students that formed our cohort.  This whole summer institute had a reputation that proceeded it.  I kept hearing things from “It’s the longest week you’ll ever live – good luck!” to “It’s so much fun!” to “You’ll have to stay up till midnight to keep up with all the work!” So, needless to say, I was nervous before it even started – too many unknown factors to anticipate. One thing that was making it less anxiety-provoking, is one of my friends from the program, Nichole, was staying with me for the institute. Given the early start time of class each day, it made the most sense for her to just crash with me. So that first morning wasn’t too bad since everything’s better when you have a friend with you.

I won’t bore you with too many nitty-gritty details, but I will say that Summer Institute definitely made me feel better about I’m on the path I’m on.  I literally walked away from a full-fledged career to go back to grad school in a completely different field.  I felt like I’ve had to defend my choices to several people – including some I would call friends. Since I came back in January, I’ve been trying to get people to understand the mission I’m on, but when I was at Summer Institute in July, it was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to explain what I wanted to do. Instead, I was prompted to think not about being in the sports industry, but what kind of leader I’m going to be in the field.  A lot of this challenge came from the instructors for the week, Peter Roby (Athletic Director at Northeastern University) and Robert Prior (full-time faculty for the Master of Sports Leadership Program at Northeastern University). The classes/lectures were designed to have us examine current issues in sport and society and provide the opportunity to consider how our personal leadership skills and assumptions can offer solutions for change.  We discussed the areas of equity, creation of organizational culture, the sport media, and the influence of money in sport. One of the most influential comments made by Roby during the week, was when he said, “The question is, do you have values of conviction or values of convenience?” As soon as he asked this question, suddenly everyone was sitting up in their seats and looking around, realizing that we all needed to examine ourselves before we answered. The second thing that stood out to me that week was when Roby said, “Culture is created by shared experience, but it is the leader who initiates this process by imposing his or her beliefs, values, and assumptions at the outset.” He shared this to have us think about what kind of culture we’re going establish as we become leaders in sport, but I think he also showed this by example throughout the week.  He was the leader who helped create the culture for our shared experience throughout the week.

The last comment I’ll make about Summer Institute is that the week revealed the importance of the people you choose to surround yourself with. I went into the week knowing maybe 10-12 people who were in classes on Boston’s campus throughout the winter and spring quarters. I came out of the week with a small army of new comrades who left me inspired to go forth and be a leader in the sports world.  It really is true what they say – that if you surround yourself with like-minded people who are after the same thing you are, your energy and inspiration will increase greatly.  It was a long week of lecture, projects, writing, and thinking, but we all came out as closer classmates and better people on the other side of it.  I know that I am motivated to keep after what I want to do, and that there is a group of people who will help get me there. And for that, I am grateful.

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