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Talking with #MakeItHappen Micro Grant Recipient... Stephanie Gerber!

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Stephanie is currently a volunteer teacher in Tamil Nadu, India. She is passionate about education and is an avid reader, travel enthusiast and perpetual student of life.

Stephanie's idea to host an informative (and nutritious) Shabbat dinner for her students in India was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! To read more about her project and to volunteer to help her #MakeItHappen visit Stephanie's idea page.

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?

#education #worldtraveler #swag

What inspired you to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant and what do you hope it will achieve?

When I came across a promotional email for #MakeItHappen, I thought it might be a great fit to the work I am currently doing in India. My students are extremely curious about me, my country, my culture, clothing, music, food, and of course, being in India, my religion. I had been thinking of many ways to explain, but what better way than to share in a Jewish event. Hosting a Shabbat dinner seemed like a great idea. I hope that by the end of my event my students will have a better understanding about my culture, not to mention a rare nutritious meal and a good time.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The smell of coffee in the morning.

What is one change you want to see in the world?

I would make sure that all children have access to equal education.

What is the biggest risk you have taken and how did it pay off?

The biggest risk I ever took was leaving my comfortable office job for a short-term volunteer position in New Delhi. One year and two countries later, I have returned to India and am working as a full time teacher. It is exactly where I want to be.

Have you ever failed before and what lessons did you learn?

I have been unsuccessful in many pursuits throughout my life, but I would never consider them a complete failure. No matter what you are attempting to do or accomplish, it is how you react and what you choose to do in response that can determine what you achieve; it might even be something that never occurred you. You never know where you will end up if you put yourself out there and take a chance.

Who are your heroes?

My heroes are my students on campus. These are young girls who encounter problems beyond their ages and face the world with a smile, caring for themselves as well as each other. I marvel at their inner strength and truly enjoy their company.

Where do you find solitude?

I find solitude in reading a good book.

Where do you find community?

I find community wherever I am; whether it be joining a sports team or club or just becoming friends with the people at the local fruit stand. The circle of friends I make, wherever I live, becomes my community.

If you had to give up one modern convenience what would it be and why?

If I had to give up one modern convince it would be a cell phone. I really like being present, but in today’s world everyone is so wired taking photos, checking email and so on. People always end up missing out on what is going on around them.

What is your favorite Jewish memory?

My favorite Jewish memory would be the summers I spent attending a Jewish summer camp. I loved spending every Shabbat dressed in white, singing songs and eating a delicious meal. It was a time of rest, relaxation and great company that has always stuck with me, even miles away and years later.

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.