November 5, 2013
- ROI Community
Joshua DeMoya, a REALITY participant, recently attended a joint REALITY, ROI Community and Schusterman Philanthropic Network (SPN) Shabbat gathering in Brooklyn, New York. The dinner was hosted by SPN Founder and Co-Chair Lynn Schusterman and featured remarks by Rabbi Andy Bachman about the rich history of Congregation Beth Elohim. Joshua shared his story to reflect on his journey to find community and the moment of clarity brought about by this Brooklyn Shabbat.
What inspires you to get out of bed every day?
My desire to do a little bit better at giving my students the education they deserve and reminding myself of the small successes I see them have every day.
What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?
#Just sitting here trying to decipher what's written in Braille upon my skin
#Live by the foma (harmless untruths) that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy
#If we treat people as they ought to be treated, we help them become what they are capable of becoming
What projects are you working on now?
This is my second year as a Teach for America Corps member in the South Bronx. I am constantly working on becoming a better teacher, which is pretty all-consuming.
What projects would you like to be working on in 5 years?
Good question . . .
What it is the biggest risk you’ve taken, personally or professionally, and how did it pay off?
Last year, I decided to be open about my sexual orientation with my staff and students. It wasn't something that I volunteered, but I spoke freely when it came up and was comfortable to have conversations about what that means and some of the experiences I have had as a gay man. I found that my openness was an example for students of being entirely comfortable with who you are and it allowed them to ask important questions they are wondering about society and their own identities. I also found that it allowed us on a school-wide level to talk about how we could address homophobia and create a space that fosters respect for all of our students.
Where do you go to find community?
My amazing synagogue, Romemu, and my apartment (I have amazing roommates).
Where do you go to find solitude?
My hour subway ride to and from work is my time to be with myself and get lost in davening, my thoughts or my iPod.
What is one change you would like to see in your lifetime?
I want to see a world in which listening is valued above making your point.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my mother. She is the person I can call when I am struggling and she is perfect at giving me time to vent and then push me to take action to make the situation better. She knows how to not just hear, but listen and empathize, which makes me feel valued when she responds. She is brilliant and a model of resilience. She finds joy in the small, beautiful moments life has to offer and in serving others. She finds strength in her faith, but maintains an openness to others beliefs and stories. I love her so very much!
Rock, paper or scissors—and why?
Rock. Teaching is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It poses challenges that require more growth than anything in my past. I am building that rock foundation for myself to continue progressing as a teacher and as a leader for social justice.
The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.