Take a moment to identify the people who have influenced you the most during your lifetime. For many of us the most obvious choices, of course, are parents and teachers. But most of us can also point to some less obvious mentors who have had a profound impact on our deepest values, the way we navigate life’s challenges, and the paths we choose as we find our way in this world. Sadly, sometimes our most important mentors disappear from our day-to-day lives. And that’s certainly the case for Heath Capello.
Heath Capello graduated from Roger Williams University and has taught science in four different states over the past twelve years. Most recently, he has been on the faculty at St. George’s School in Middletown. This August Capello will be seeking new adventures -- and mentors -- as he transitions to the American School of Milan in Italy.
What comes to mind when someone utters the phrase "comfort food"? Does it conjure up warm images of grilled cheese sandwiches with just the right amount of gooey innards or, perhaps, the aromatic vegetable soup your favorite uncle made when you paid him a visit? Whatever images and taste memories we hold near and dear, food has a powerful way of shaping our lives. The author Kurt Vonnegut once said, "You can't just eat good food. You've got to talk about it, too." And that's exactly what we hear from 15-year-old Robin Hall.
Robin Hall just completed his freshman year at North Smithfield high School, where he is a musician, swimmer, runner and formed his school's first Quidditch Club. Robin reports that he has grown up listening to National Public Radio.
It sounds a little too much like an essay question on a college application: "Please identify a book that has changed your life. Discuss." The truth is, most of us can identify a book that has changed our lives in profound ways. Perhaps it was a book that inspired, or one that provided solace and refuge during difficult moments. Whatever the case, books have the power to transform, and that's certainly the case for Jan Keough, as we hear in this encore essay.
You know that expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? What it means, of course, is that we should do what we can to make the best of difficult circumstances we encounter, to extract something positive out of the unbidden events that come our way. This isn’t always feasible, but isn’t it wonderful when we manage to figure out a way to turn life’s traumas into meaningful, sometimes glorious, even magnificent, opportunities? That’s what Elena Yee has experienced in her life.
Elena Yee is a born and bred Bostonian and the daughter of immigrants from China and Hong Kong. She has worked as an engineer, a teacher in Asia and Alaska, and with students at a college in Santa Barbara, California. She is currently director of the Multicultural Activities Office at Providence College.
You know those times in life when you wish you could rewind the clock and do it all over again? That first date that didn’t work out so well, or perhaps the job interview where you now cringe when you think about how you answered that critical screening question. Of course, life doesn’t come with a reset button. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” And that’s what we hear from Bill Miles.
Bill Miles, a resident of Seekonk, Massachusetts, is a professor of political science at Northeastern University, where he integrates music into his teaching on politics. Miles has lived in and written books on India, West Africa, the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the French Caribbean. When his daughter, Arielle, picks up her violin, Miles tries to accompany her on his cello – without regrets.
No doubt you have noticed how our lives ebb and flow, much like the seasons. Both literally and figuratively we get to experience the wonder of stunningly beautiful spring days and the bitter assault delivered by the occasional winter blizzard. Such is life. Indeed, seasons seem to be able to teach us so much about coping with life's inevitable ups and downs, including its bittersweet moments. Consider the quote penned by the French Nobel existentialist Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." These are the sentiments echoed by Terry Ward.
For the last 20 years Terry Ward has enjoyed working as a college counseling director, currently at the Providence Country Day School. He is also a religious studies teacher and loves music of all kinds. Ward has sung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus for 22 years.
As we race around in our lives, between hither and yon, and between our mundane daily tasks and life's occasional crises, how many of us notice, really notice nature's creatures and its other assorted bounty that cross our paths - the flowers, the birds, the insects, even the neighbor's pet? Cara Murray certainly notices, and she has her own very special way of showing it, as we hear in this encore essay.
When she recorded this essay, Cara Murray was a graduate of Brown University pursuing a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. She is a former dancer and, as she reports, an emerging writer.
Haven’t all of us had those moments in life when we worry that we’re invisible, that no one notices we’re really here? Perhaps we were the new kid at school who seemed to blend into the crowd, or the party goer to whom no one paid much attention. Maybe all of us feel the sentiment shared by Ralph Ellison in his novel, Invisible Man: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” All of us want to be validated, and that’s what we hear from Christina Connett.
Christina Connett teaches art history and the history of cartography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her love of maps comes from a life of travel by sea, air and land and an interest in how people relate to ideas of place. Connett and her family live in Jamestown.
What does the word ‘family’ mean to you? Does it conjure up images of the proverbial mom and dad with their offspring, or do you have a more elastic sense of what family is all about? On this we would all agree: Family is an essential cornerstone in our lives. In his early twentieth-century masterpiece, The Life of Reason, the philosopher and poet George Santayana said, "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." And as we hear from 12-year-old Matt Lannon, what matters ultimately is how each of us understands what family means in our own unique lives.
Matthew Lannon is a 12 year old sixth-grader at the Wheeler School in Providence. He recently testified in favor of same-sex marriage before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Rhode Island in support of his family. The legislation was signed by Rhode Island’s governor on May 2, 2013.
Renowned author Anne Lamott once wrote, “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools.” And doesn’t it often happen that we have to depend on the simplest, most primitive things in our lives when times are tough? That’s exactly what happened with this 13-year old Jeremiah Matos.
Jeremiah Matos is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. He is a visual artist, dancer, and filmmaker. Jeremiah loves exploring the root of his artistic side, and appreciating how a simple pencil changed his outlook on the world.