After living in the concrete jungle of Manhattan, it was a great opportunity to retreat to the green state of Maine where I spent my fourth summer at Camp Takajo. In Naples, Maine, you never hear honking horns, sirens screeching, and never get caught in traffic jams. As the buses rolled into camp, we were greeted by counselors who brought us to the cabins where we would be living for the next seven weeks.
Takajo offers many different activities ranging from soccer to sailing and lacrosse to photography. The counselors encourage you to try a wide variety of activities and as a result, get you to try new things. Before my first summer at Takajo, I had never tried sailing. Now, making my way down to the dock and hopping into a sailboat is my favorite activity at camp.
Although Takajo is a sports camp, it also offers many other activities such as canoeing, video, woodworking and photo. I had an amazing experience this past summer on a project I worked on in Photography. I took a panorama photo of the Takajo waterfront and started working. I spent the next several weeks laboring over my masterpiece, an enormous 5ft by 2ft collage. It was a fun experience and I was happy to tote it back to New York and hang it in my room.
After archery, lacrosse, laughing with my friends, movie night, and white water rafting, it was finally time to go back home. It will be difficult to return to the concrete jungle and to daily activities of homework and exams, and sitting in a classroom all day instead of being on a lake.
As cell phone usage rates increase each day, not many of us are aware of the harmful effects our gadgets may have on the body. Dr. Martin Blank from Columbia University explains in an informative video, found in the link below:
In August, a parent's thoughts turn to the new school year that will be starting all too soon, and what can be done to set up our kids to do their best and feel good about it. Knowing that kids are not all alike, we've been thinking about how to prime kids who have particular emotional or learning challenges for a strong start.
This week on childmind.org we kick off a series of specialized back-to-school tips with what we're calling our School Success Kit for Kids With Executive Functioning Issues. It's a list of supplies and strategies tailored to kids who are organizationally challenged. It's aimed at helping kids keep track of the things they're responsible for (from homework assignments to house keys), have less trouble getting out the door in the morning (Where did that other sneaker go?), and better manage their time (What was it I'm supposed to be doing?).
We'll follow this with lists for kids with anxiety, ADHD, sensory problems, selective mutism, and more, throughout the month of August. Check out our Facebook page to see when they're posted.
--Caroline Miller, Editorial Director
On Friday, at a joint press conference, the Secretary for Education and Attorney General announced the Obama administration's intention to explore the restoration of Pell grants for incarcerated Americans. Next month, the Department of Education will launch an "experimental site" program which restores Pell eligibility for three years, for a small group of participating programs which will be chosen in the months ahead.
This announcement is evidence that optimism is not unwarranted. After many years of things only getting worse, after so much work by so many, things can and will get better. If you haven't yet seen the recent New York Times' editorial lauding the announcement and describing BPI's work as "highly acclaimed" and "widely emulated," please read here.
At the same time, the scale of the intervention proposed is limited and reminds us - however far we've come - how much work remains to be done.
Nothing that we've accomplished at BPI over the past fifteen years would be possible without the generous support of individuals across the country who took a risk on us long before the cause was fashionable.
Please continue with us in the months and years ahead as we work to ensure the next generation of Americans will be better served by our systems of education and justice than the last one.
To celebrate this milestone, please join me in making a contribution to BPI here.
Recognized nationwide as a "top Fulbright producer," Hunter is proud to honor the College's 2015 Fulbright U.S. Student Award winners. Three members of the new graduating class are recipients of the prestigious government grant to spend the next academic year living, working and studying abroad. The Fulbright program's stated goal is for these young scholars to "interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding."
Bianca Malhotra '15, an economics major at Hunter's Macaulay Honors College, will spend her Fulbright year teaching English to university students in Turkey. This is a return trip for Malhotra, who studied abroad in Istanbul during the 2014 spring semester.
Malhotra cites a "timely" course in the Human Rights Program at Roosevelt House, where she learned about Turkey's involvement in the Arab Spring, as the inspiration for her previous semester abroad. She devoted that semester not only to studying in Istanbul but also to teaching English to high school and middle school students in a village outside the city center. The experience was so fulfilling, she says, that "I knew I had to come back."
Born in Brooklyn, Malhotra moved in her teens to Long island, and in high school theater "found my community." While majoring in economics at Hunter, she attended theatrical performances throughout the city, and began observing how much a thriving artistic scene boosts local economic development. Her winning Fulbright proposal includes plans to invite her Turkish students to join a theater club, where they can "learn about American plays and practice the language skills learned in class."
Malhotra's proposal also states her intention to return to the U.S. after her Fulbright year and continue pursuing her interest in the arts and community development. One attractive option, she says, is to earn a dual master's degree at France's Paris Institute of Political Studies and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Her eventual goal is to work for the government or a global NGO.
Right now she is looking forward to a summer internship at Bloomberg Philanthropies, where she can make immediate use of what she learned writing her Honors College thesis on corporate social responsibility. She says that in her thesis work, as well as her successful Fulbright application and her other achievements at Hunter, she was supported by faculty and advisers "who are looking out for you, want to make sure you succeed, and will sit down and share all the insights they have."
Hugo Genes (IMA/MFA '15) a graduate student in Hunter's Integrated Media Arts Program, has won a Fulbright to create multimedia documentation of the lives, culture and customs of Brazil's Xavante indigenous people. He intends to create filmed records that the tribe's older generations can pass down to younger generations, detailing and reinforcing their people's proud history, identity, and commitment to live sustainably.
Genes spent his own childhood on the shores of a river with a notorious environmental history. He grew up on Roosevelt Island, and crossed the East River daily to attend high school at Brooklyn Tech before heading upstate to Cornell University. As an applied economics major, he was courted by Wall Street and saw many of his classmates opt for careers in finance. But Genes says he gradually realized that he didn't want to devote himself to the abstractions of financial markets, or to "contributing to greater inequality in the world." Through Nancy Flowers, a family friend and retired professor of anthropology at Hunter, he found his way to the Xavante.
"Nancy is in her 90s, and when my sister and I went to help her move, we saw the accumulation of a lifetime of work in her home. We wondered what would happen to it all," he says. Assisting the professor, he came to know some of her former colleagues, anthropologists who work with the Xavante, and started working with the tribe himself. He soon found the best way to contribute his efforts and talents.
"Growing up, I was always playing with cameras, making movies with friends," Genes says. To develop his craft, he enrolled at Hunter and pursued advanced studies in the creation of nonfiction media. At the same time, through further collaboration with Xavante tribe members and Brazilian anthropologists, he developed the proposal that won the Fulbright grant.
"I will take several trips through the year into the village Pimentel Barbosa, and work collaboratively to find the ideal ways for the Xavante to generate, store and access audiovisual documentation," his proposal states, offering specific travel and work plans before concluding, "I'm inspired by films that bring change in our society and environment."
Maggie Slavin (MSEd '15), a South Bronx middle-school teacher earning her master's in special education, successfully applied for a Fulbright post in Amman, Jordan. "I chose Jordan," her application stated, "because I have knowledge of the language and region, and because many of my current students are Arab American." She is looking forward to teaching English to Jordanian students at the high school or college level, and to spending her "free" time working with Jordan's fast-growing Syrian refugee community.
Slavin says that because she grew up in a semi-rural area outside Chicago and attended a very small high school, "I didn't know I had a passion for cultures and languages until college." At St. Mary's, the sister school to Notre Dame, an advisor encouraged her to take the college's first-ever Arabic course.
By her senior year, Slavin was a teaching assistant in an Arabic 101 class. She also taught English to adult learners in a nearby community of Iraqi refugees. After graduating, she joined the national service program AmeriCorps, serving as a language teacher for young children from Mexican families in Northern California.
When she came to New York to study for an ESL tutoring certificate, Slavin says, "I fell in love with the city and recognized the huge need for public school teachers here." She decided to pursue her master's at Hunter, and in the School of Education's Special Education program, found "some of the best professors I've ever come across and a very holistic approach to educating kids - one that completely transformed my approach to teaching." She adds, "Without my Hunter education, I would not have gotten the Fulbright."
After her Fulbright year, Slavin will return to the Bronx, where there is a growing community of Yemeni refugees and a great need for teachers proficient in Arabic.
BY KISA SCHELL
It's not often that you hear of a child raised in New York City longing to become a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park. Yet for Sean MacGuire Reinicke, a high school senior at Beekman High School, this dream is becoming a reality. Sean was born in Lithuania and brought to the United States at the age of four. Though Sean had difficulty grasping the English language at first, he quickly surmounted this challenge and has excelled in many endeavors, both scholastically and creatively. Currently, Sean is taking advanced English courses at his high school where he is inspired by an animated teacher, James Vescovi: "We do everything from "Romeo and Juliet" to James Hanley. We just read the book "The Dragon Can't Dance." My teacher is very wonderful. He's so nice and he's so lively and he's Italian- he just has this vibe where everyone in class just enjoys [the lesson] and we just come in and he has coffee waiting for us. No one does that and it's just amazing because we sit down and everyone talks to each other and it feels great and the vibes are amazing." Sean describes many of the teachers at Beekman as influential figures in his life: "They all helped influence me to follow my dreams and none of them said that I should focus on something that can make me more money." In a society where class and status are emphasized, it's not often that students are encouraged to pursue their dreams, no matter how unconventional they might be. The small class sizes and seminar-style settings have helped Sean feel at home and in an environment where people genuinely care about his interests and well-being. In the fall of 2015, Sean will be starting school at SUNY Cobleskill. With the motto: "Real Life. Real Learning," SUNY Cobleskill encourages students to immerse themselves in hands-on fieldwork and internships to help them secure employment after graduation. At Cobleskill, Sean plans to concentrate on courses that are related to nature, from zoology to botany to wetlands to biology. Sean is most looking forward to working in a fish hatchery, as well as study abroad opportunities that will bring him to Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. He is also excited to be in a rural environment with likeminded peers who have had different backgrounds: "I've always been a kind of country kid. I've never really been interested in the city and I've always wanted to go out and see more of the countryside. I think that me, a city kid, going to college at Cobleskill will be very interesting because not a lot of kids from NYC go to college there. Not only can I tell my stories, but [the Cobleskill natives] can tell their stories to me about what their life is like." From Lithuania to New York City to Cobleskill, New York, Sean has had an interesting journey. His interests in nature and the outdoors have grounded him and pushed him to pursue the career of his dreams at a school that emphasizes education through experience. As the old (and very corny) adage says, if his future were any brighter, he would have to wear shades. #
Jacob M. Appel's incredible résumé almost suggests he knows all about the worlds of the diverse figures who appear in his award-winning fiction - without their bizarre, eccentric and peculiar behavior, of course. Appel's latest story collection, Einstein's Beach House, shows just how wide and deep he can go in exploring different kinds of characters -men and women, young and older - all acting out the overall theme that some situations in life prompt some people to make absurdity the norm. Appel's characters easily go from semi-rational to downright loony. The irony is that though the more rational characters yield to odd behaviors in their loved ones, because they want to please them, to sustain if not enhance their relationships, they wind up buying in to the ridiculous, only to find that at the end, funny-cuckoo has become sad-pathetic, and they are left with ambivalence, if not isolation and aloneness. In the title story, "Einstein's Beach House," a knock-out tale of narrative ingenuity that yokes opposite and discordant qualities, the father who starts a con that Einstein summered in the bungalow his family has owned for decades, come to believe in the details he made up.
The brilliance of Appels' conceptions is not only that he taps into so many weird psyches in story after different story (there are eight tales here), but that he signals content by style. It's a dry, matter-of-fact style, full of expressions of oddball free associations. In just one sentence Appel can pull off a sequence of non-sequiturs, disjointed comments or observations, that sometimes contain sly hints of criticism about a society that promotes or tolerates fads and fantasies. In "La Tristesse Des Des Hérissons [hedgehogs]" the narrator goes to visit a "veterinary psychiatrist" who had been featured on the cover of New York Magazine, whose office "was located only blocks from the nursing home where Adeline's mother sat expressionless at the end of a musty corridor, periodically calling out lessons that she had memorized at Miss Porter's, where she'd once shared a swimming locker with the future Jacqueline Kennedy." In "Limerence" [look it up] the narrator speaks of her parents as liberal Republicans of the Rockefeller variety "who went to synagogue twice each year to worship a benign, munificent God who cared passionately about SAT scores." Or, from "The Rod of Asclepius" --"My aunt is away for the weekend with her new boyfriend, a veterinarian, who will soon become my Uncle Conrad, and will later become my former Uncle Conrad, and will eventually move to Florida and open a theme park featuring exotic animals."
Appel is a master of dazzling metaphors, witty, literary allusions, and just-right sentence rhythms. Beginnings are priceless: "We'd been living together for eight months when we adopted the hedgehog" (from "La Tristesse); or from "Strings" -- "Rabbi Cynthia Felder was newly married, and in her pulpit only six months, when a former lover [once "the most gifted musician ever to vend hot dogs at Yankee Stadium"] asked to borrow the sanctuary" (he wants to put on a concert for 400 cellos). Situations are immediately wacky or strange: In the opening story, two girls sneak into the basement of a sex offender while the father of one of the girls tries to befriend him, to the dismay of his neighbors. In another story, a young woman kidnaps her ex-husband's turtle and presses her lover, a failed ventriloquist, to assist in his upkeep. In the last story, "Paracosmos," the mother of a girl who had an imaginary friend falls in love with the imaginary friend's imaginary father and then suspects her own husband of having an affair with the imaginary mother. Depression hovers at the edge of all the tales, but the affectionate lunacy tends to keep things light.
Who crafts such a clever literary cornucopia? At 42, Dr. Jacob M. Appel has already acquired seven masters degrees from Ivy League universities in several disciplines: English and American literature, history, creative writing, bioethics, playwriting - not to mention a medical degree (Columbia), a law degree (Harvard) and a position as practicing psychiatrist at Mount Sinai . He is also working on a Ph.D. at Columbia on the history of American [psychiatric] medicine. It's likely there's more. How Appel finds time to write such entertaining and moving fiction (previously published in noted literary journals) is a mystery, but as Keats might say, why unweave a rainbow?
BY LYDIA LIEBMAN
According to statistics, a child born into the lowest quartile of income has a 9 percent chance of attending college compared to children born into wealthier families, whose chance of college attendance rises to 85 percent. Those at the College Bound Initiative (CBI) have been working tirelessly to alter that fact.
Established in 2001 by Ann Tisch, CBI is a coeducational college guidance program that stems from the Young Women's Leadership Network (YWLN). Since its inception, the program has assisted nearly 7000 students in enrolling to college and has generated more than $265 million in financial aid. "I thikk this is a fabulous organization," says CBI board member and former NYV public school principal Gertrude Erwin, "this model is unique because we have full time counselors working with the students to get them into college. We have a tremendous success rate."
On May 28, CBI celebrated the 2014-2015 high school graduates with the help of three of the most recognized names in entertainment, culinary arts and real estate: actress, hip hop artist, and writer Queen Latifah, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and famously, founder of restaurant chain Shake Shack, Danny Meyer and Chairman of Global Brokerage and real estate magnate Stephen B. Siegel.
The class of 2015 has much to be proud of, with graduates going on to enroll at some of the nation's premier educational institutions including New York University, Franklin and Marshall College, Columbia University and Cornell, among many others. Many student stories were shared, including that of Ghanaian Mark Manu, who is the first of his family to go to college. Manu credited his counselor Ms. Daly for helping him through the immigration process and helping him to secure a green card so he could apply to college. In the fall, he will be attending Gettysburg College with a full scholarship.
A student at Health Opportunities High School in Bronx who will be attending at NYU in the fall to study early childhood education, said that CBI made it possible for her to pursue her dreams. "The best thing was my advisor, Mr. Thomas. It was wonderful to have the opportunities that my parents were not able to have when they were young to be able to have an education and be able to attend college," she said.
Each of the honored guests praised Ann Tisch and congratulated the graduating class. "This experience makes me feel that maybe I didn't appreciate the privilege I had," said Danny Meyer, "... I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this incredibly powerful program." When asked what steps one should take to become successful, Stephen Siegel summed it up eloquently with "education, education, education". Finally, Queen Latifah took the stage to thunderous applause and cited her mother, who attended college when Latifah was a child, as her primary inspiration. "Be prepared for people who will say you can't do it," Latifah advised, "and make sure you don't believe them. Latifah went on to sing praises of the program and thank the counselors. "I'm very proud of the students who worked so hard to get to this point...each of these students is worth the time and the effort and the money," she said.
Tisch commented on the success of the celebration and the organization as a whole when she said, "I think this shows the struggles, but more important the success that these kids have because of the work that they do and the work that CBI is doing."
Currently, CBI is available to 13,000 students across 24 schools throughout New York City. Approximately 80 percent of CBI graduating seniors will be the first to attend college in their family. #
By Dr. Allen Frances
There are three consistent research findings that should make a world of difference to therapists and to the people they treat.
First, psychotherapy works at least as well as drugs for most mild to moderate problems and, all things being equal, should be used first.Second, a good relationship is much more important in promoting good outcome than the specific psychotherapy techniques that are used.Third, there is a very high placebo response rate for all sorts of milder psychiatric and medical problems. This is partly a time effect- people come for help at particularly bad times in there lives and are likely to improve with time even if nothing is done. But placebo response also reflects the magical power of hope and expectation. And the effect is not just psychological- the body often actually responds to placebo just as it would responded to active medication.
These three findings add up to one crucial conclusion- the major focus of effective therapy should be to establish a powerfully healing relationship and to inspire hope. Specific techniques help when they enhance the primary focus on the relationship, they hurt when they distract from it.
The paradox is that therapists are increasingly schooled in specific techniques to the detriment of learning how to heal. The reason is clear- it is easy to manualize technique, hard to teach great healing. I have, therefore, asked a great healer, Fanny Marell, a Swedish social worker and licensed psychotherapist, to share some of her secrets.
Ms Marell writes: "Many therapists worry so much about assessing symptoms, performing techniques, and filling out forms that they miss the wonderful vibrancy of a strong therapeutic relationship.
Thinking I can help someone just by asking about concerns, troubles, and symptoms is like thinking that I can drive a car solely by looking in the rearview mirror. Dreams, hopes, and abilities are seen out of the front window of the car and help us together to navigate the road ahead. Where are we going? Which roads will you choose and why? It surely will not be the same roads I would take - we are different- we have to find your own best direction.
If we focus only on troubles and diagnosis, we lose the advantage of capitalizing on the person's strengths and resources. If I am to help someone overcome symptoms, change behaviors, and climb out of difficult situations, I need to emphasize also all the positives he brings to the situation. Therapy without conversations about strengths and hopes is not real therapy. And often most important: Does the patient have a sense of humor? Laugh together! Be human. No one wants a perfect therapist. It is neither credible nor human.
Symptom checklists and diagnoses play a role but don't give me no understanding of how this person / patient understands his world and her troubles. And don't drown in manuals, missing the person while applying the technique.
People come to me discouraged and overwhelmed- their hopes and dreams abandoned. Early in our time together, I ask many detailed questions about how they would like life to change. What would you do during the day? Where would you live? What would your relationship to your family be like? What would you do in your spare time? How kind of social circle wood you have? By getting detailed descriptions I get concrete goals (eg I want to go to school, I want to argue less with my parents, spend more time with friends).
Almost always, working with the family is useful; sometimes it is absolutely necessary. What would be a good life for your child? How would it affect you?
Sometimes are dreams are big, perhaps even too extravagant; sometimes they are small and and perhaps too cautious. But dreams always become more realistic and realizable when they are expressed. Sharing a dream and making it a treatment goal helps the person make a bigger investment in the treatment, and to take more responsibility for it. He becomes the driver and the therapist may sit in the back seat".
Because my first conversation is not just about symptoms and troubles, we start off on a basis of realistic hope and avoid a negative spiral dominate only by troubles. Problems have to be faced, but from a position of strength, not despair and helplessness.
Having a rounded view of the person's problems and strengths enriches the therapeutic contact and creates a strong alliance.
Thanks, Ms Marell, for terrific advice. Some of the best natural therapists I have known have been ruined by psychotherapy training- becoming so preoccupied learning and implementing technique that they lost the healing warmth of their personalities.
Therapy should always be an exciting adventure- an intense meeting of hearts and minds. You can't learn to be an effective therapist by reading a manual and applying it mechanically.
I would tell therapists I supervised never to apply what we discussed to their next session with the patient, lest they would always be a week behind. Therapy should be informed by technique, but not stultified by it.