Volunteer Spotlight: Midori Samson

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Midori Samson!
Get to know Midori, and learn about her experiences with ASTEP below.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and that’s where I continue to call home. I went to Juilliard for my undergraduate degree in bassoon, which is where I got involved with ASTEP in 2010. Amid my college stress and burnout, I needed to get back in touch with my inner child-Midori and get back to why I started music in the first place. Meeting ASTEP and the children we work with was the perfect remedy. I’m so thankful that ASTEP is so connected to the Juilliard community.

Upon graduation, I moved to Austin where I got my master’s degree in bassoon at the University of Texas. During my brief 2 years in Austin, I organized an ASTEP chapter with some friends and we hosted a camp with a local youth shelter for two weeks! At that point, it was probably the proudest thing I’d ever done. 

For two years after going to grad school, I lived in Chicago, and performed in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the Chicago Symphony’s training orchestra) and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. I thrived in my position in Civic and that was completely because of the work I had previously done with ASTEP! The position involved simultaneously performing in the orchestra and curating musical community engagement projects around the city. I helped organized residencies at schools, shelters, a prison, and at a refugee center. I was living my best teaching-artist life, and constantly fell back on the training I got as an ASTEP teaching artist and facilitator. 

My ASTEP experiences continue to influence all parts of my career, musicianship, and life. I co-founded my own organization, Trade Winds Ensemble and our music curriculum is very much inspired by ASTEP teaching philosophies. In addition, I just travelled to China to perform and teach with Yo-Yo Ma, where he asked us to always use our child-like imaginations to perform music (a skill I feel I’m an expert at thanks to ASTEP!) Currently, I’m working on a doctorate degree in bassoon, and I’m minoring in social work, to help me improve even more what I can contribute in an ASTEP classroom. 

Through moving all over the country and changing situations so frequently, ASTEP has been one of the few constants in my life. Because of ASTEP, I have internalized the value that my music has in the world. I love myself for what I can offer with my art form!


Thank you, Midori for volunteering with ASTEP!
We could not do our work without incredible people like you.

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP,
email our Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi, at sami@asteponline.org 

 

 

2019 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellows — ANNOUNCED!

ASTEP is thrilled to announce that Tiffany Ramos and Gabby Serrano have been selected as recipients of the 2019 Winter/Spring Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship for their work with ASTEP on STAGE!

ASTEP on STAGE! introduces youth from underserved communities in NYC to the power of the arts by bringing performing and visual artists from the Broadway and NYC community to after-school and in-school programs. Because ASTEP believes that all young people should have access to the arts, regardless of their backgrounds, ASTEP on STAGE! partners with NYC organizations serving youth affected by the justice system, incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, immigration status, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS.

The Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals who closely model Jennifer’s values to introduce our students to new art forms and new artists. These Fellows will provide students with the chance to not only try new things, but to discover role models from all walks of life and to dream about a future full of opportunities.


TIFFANY RAMOS
“Thank you so much, it is a great honor to receive this fellowship award! Volunteering with ASTEP for the past four years has been a deeply inspiring and educational experience. Facilitating in the classroom has gifted me with numerous irreplaceable opportunities to act as a guide through inquiry, exploration, and growth. I look forward to continuing to share the power of the performing and visual arts with unique and thriving minds.”
GABBY SERRANO
“I’m currently in school for social work and have a passion for visual arts. ASTEP is largely accredited for encouraging me to continue to pursue the arts and integrate it into my future career. I’ve learned that I can combine my two passions and that it is totally possible to create whatever it is you envision.”

Gabby and Tiffany are inspiring examples of how the arts give our students the skills to learn they have what it takes to succeed no matter the obstacles, which is key to breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty. We’re excited to share their journey through monthly blog posts so stay tuned!






Get to know our Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi!

 

Read the interview below to find out more about our rockstar Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi!

 

Where did you grow up? 

Fresno, California.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team? 

Before joining the ASTEP team, I had the honor of working for a few different arts organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I was Artistic Director for The Audacity Performing Arts Project, Inc., Program Manager for the Arts for Social Justice Program at Santa Clara University, and I taught dance classes at a High School and a Dance Studio in San Jose, CA! 

Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones? 

Yes! I absolutely love to be on site with ASTEP programs! I am proud to say that I have been on site at all of the current ASTEP programs except one (and hopefully I will get there sometime soon!). I recently got back from teaching at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in India, and it was such a beautiful and life changing experience. All of the ASTEP programs continue to inspire me and I learn more about each one of them every day! 

Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started? 

Yes I did! I started in dance classes when I was about 3 years old, and I was hooked ever since! I studied Theatre and Dance in college and am a Musical Theatre performer, and through that I found my vocation to teach and share my joy for the arts with those around me – especially children. 

What is the most challenging part of your work? 

I would say that a challenging part of my work is balancing and coordinating schedules of all our teaching artist teams and volunteers. It is a beautiful challenge to have because we have a vast pool of artists with different backgrounds/jobs/expertise, which allow us to put together the best possible teams for our students – but it does call for extra attention to detail and putting my schedule puzzle solving skills to the test!

What is the most rewarding part of your work? 

The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the smiles on all of the faces of the children we work with. Nothing can beat that pure joy! Everything we do is for the kids, and watching them discover their own greatness through our workshops and programs will always be the icing on the cake!

What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP? 

Everything! From the moment I walk through the ASTEP office door, I am overwhelmed with the love and passion our community has for using arts to make a positive difference in the world. I am continuously inspired by the new volunteers I get to talk to each day, and I am constantly reminded of all the people in this world who are fighting to make a positive difference by sharing their heart/art. 

What song best encapsulates your working personality? 

If I had to describe my work personality in a song, I would choose “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. Not only does this song put a smile on my face, but I think it describes my work personality and how I approach life in general. “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun!” 

 

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Gladys Pasapera

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Gladys Pasapera!

 

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP? ASTEP is a unique community of artists that feeds my creative + art teacher soul! I love ASTEP because it continues to open my eyes to the power of the arts and the endless possibilities for both teaching artists and students. It helps us teaching artists develop ways to foster safe and encouraging spaces for our young artists to develop confidence and communication skills through play and artmaking. Watching young people step outside the box and let go of their fears is a priceless moment to witness.

How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP?  Since Summer of 2009

What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP?  Art-in-Action (Florida) and RYSA (NYC)

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?  I have so many memories! But I recently came across some old photos from a lost USB with memories from my first RYSA summer of 2012. I didn’t know what to expect and I had little experience with English Language Learners. I taught a few projects that I was taught in high school so we started with sketchbook prompts and then plaster hands representing the students. The high school students were so honest and willing to share their truths and feelings about coming to America, the camaraderie was so beautiful!! They were also very engaged with the entire process of getting messy and playing with plaster. They had to pair up and take turns covering their hands with vaseline and then laying plaster strips to cover their hands so the cast would slide off after it was dry. Only laughter and fun filled the classroom!

Thank you, Gladys, for volunteering with ASTEP! You exude grace in the classroom and we are lucky to join forces with you. We cannot do this work without you!

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy, click here!

For all Volunteer Inquiries, email ASTEP’S Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi, at sami@asteponline.org.

 

 

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