Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Lunder

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Michael Lunder!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
I volunteer with ASTEP because volunteer work has always been a very important part of my life and I love the ASTEP approach to supplying volunteers that can help serve all kinds of local missions in various locations.

Why is arts education important?
Arts education is so important because it inspires creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, self expression, and shows people the power of stepping out of their comfort zone and embracing new experiences and challenges!

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
Picking a favorite memory is nearly impossible, but I think one major highlight of my Shanti Bhagwan experience was watching the graduating class trying to learn how to waltz. We got to watch them grow from awkward and uncomfortable teenagers that were stumbling over each other’s feet into these blossoming, confident, young adults that held their chins high ready for anything the world had in store for them!

How has art impacted/inspired you?
Art impacted me as a teenager by giving me an outlet to express all of the feelings I was too shy to speak up about to anybody. It inspires me everyday to chase impossible dreams and follow my heart in every day situations, and it keeps the passionate fire burning inside of me.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I would truly hope my students feel empowered to find passion and happiness, gain self acceptance and feel self-worth from their time with me.

What have you learned from your students?
Every day as a teacher reminds me to embrace imperfection. It also reminds me how powerful love and kindness are, and reminds me that there’s always room for fun.

Is there any advice you would like to share for new ASTEP Volunteers?
I don’t think I’m in a place to give any advice, but I guess I’d just say to leave your mind and your heart open and embrace every moment!

Thank you, Michael, for making magic happen in our programs!
We could not do this work without you!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Hyde

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Stephanie Hyde!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
I believe everyone deserves access to arts education. ASTEP brings arts education to underprivileged communities, and we, as a team, strive to teach kids how to express themselves through the arts. We give students a creative outlet, and we teach them that it is accessible 365 days a year, not just when ASTEP is present.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
Every single time we had even a moment of free time, I would have several students come up to me and say, “Miss Stephanie, can you please, please, please play your bassoon? *Air bassoon*” I love playing my bassoon, but there has been no performance that beats playing for the kids in the music room. Their enthusiasm was amazing. Practicing isn’t the same in the U.S. I miss my audience of amazing kids while I practice.

Why is arts education important?
Arts education teaches you more than facts and figures. The three C’s: collaboration, cooperation, communication are vital to the arts. The three C’s are naturally taught through doing, and they are never explicitly explained, but almost like a positive side effect to the arts. While the classes like math, English, science, etc. are important, the premise of these courses are rooted in facts, theorems, rules, and figures. While there is a technical side to the arts, it is rooted in expressionism.

How has art impacted/inspired you?
Most people within the arts communities just want to see their friends and colleagues succeed. I love being a part of a community full of kindness. There is no room in the world to bring people down, because bringing someone down does not make you any better. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my friends and kids perform. It is so beautiful to see someone doing what they love, and it is amazing to be able to hear someone’s growth. I love being a part of a community where we love to see each other grow, progress, and succeed.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I want my students to know they should always, always perform. I firmly believe that music should be performed no matter what the level is. Music should not just be performed if it’s absolutely perfect. Music is beautiful at all stages of development and sharing your music is important. I also want my kids to know the emotional impact music can have. At the beginning of my time at SB, my kids thought the only way for music to have meaning was if the music had words. As a bassoonist, I knew that this was not true, and it was my job to collaborate with my co-teacher, Mr. Michael, to figure out how to lead the students to this conclusion on their own. By the end of camp, the students (!!) composed their own instrumental piece about what SB means to them. It was beautiful and amazing, and they made Mr. Michael and I SO proud.

What have you learned from your students?
First of all, I learned that I am terrible at riddles. The kids of SB are riddle masters. Every single student taught me something important and valuable. For every one thing I taught the students, they taught me five. Teaching and learning is an exchange, and as a teacher, you must be willing to adapt and be pushed out of your comfort zone. Going to SB, I had a huge fear of singing and playing piano in front of people. By the end of camp, I was singing in front of the class, and I was TEACHING piano lessons. The kids pushed me five miles outside of my comfort zone, and I loved every second of it.

Any advice to share for new ASTEP volunteers?
Do not go in with any expectations. Do not worry about not having anything planned beforehand. The kids will inspire you, and they will amaze you. Let your heart and your kids guide your work. (Also pack more snacks than just protein bars…I still can’t even look at one 5 months later).

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Leila Mire

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Leila Mire!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
ASTEP is one of those special places where arts education and children’s needs are put at the forefront. I volunteer with ASTEP because I love the children and the team. The currency exchanged is through endless smiles, laughter, and creativity.

Why is arts education important?
In my opinion, I have the most important job in the world. Arts education stands for everything that makes a person a contributing member of society. I don’t just teach dance. I teach creativity, acceptance, culture, and teamwork.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
My favorite memory from ASTEP was spending the summer in Elaine, Arkansas. The complete immersion of our team into the community allowed us to fully share ourselves with the culture in an organic, beautiful way.

How has art impacted/inspired you?
Art has shaped my life in every imaginable way possible. In literature, a bildungsroman, refers to a coming of age novel. A künstlerroman is a coming of age novel through the arts. I like to say that everyone has a bildungsroman. If you’re really lucky, you get to have a künstlerroman. I’m blessed to have a künstlerroman that has allowed me to learn, grow, and become who I am through the arts. Teaching allows me to share and contribute to other künstlerromans.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I hope students grow and become more creative, inspired, passionate people. I hope to ignite a fire in them that can’t be extinguished.

What have you learned from your students?
Smiles go a long way, fort night dances are here to stay, and creativity should never be kept at bay. 😉

Is there any advice you would like to share for new ASTEP Volunteers?
You’re never “just a teacher” or “just a performer.” That mindset is so limiting. The two inform one another. Learn everything. Be open. Give space and be ready for anything and everything to happen and if you’re lucky, it will.

Thank you, Leila, for making magic happen in our programs! We could not do this work without you!

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Gabrielle DiBenedetto

This week, our volunteer spotlight is on Gabrielle DiBenedetto!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
The work at ASTEP combines three of my greatest passions – the arts, working with children, and helping others. I believe that performing opens so many doors for allowing children to express themselves and to learn the importance of collaboration, community, and creation.

How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP?
I just started volunteering with ASTEP in the summer of 2018!

What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP?
This past summer, I co-taught dance classes at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA). I have also participated in an open mic night at the Incarnation Children’s Center.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
My favorite memory from RYSA was graduation. Seeing how much the students came out of their shells, how much more confident they were, how their personalities shined onstage made me feel like their summer at RYSA had been truly transformative. Each one of the students truly transformed something in me. I was and am so proud of them!

Thank you, Gabrielle, for volunteering with ASTEP! 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

Volunteer Spotlight: Karina Sindicich

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Karina Sindicich! Why do you volunteer with ASTEP? I volunteer with ASTEP for so many reasons!! ASTEP is such an incredible organization, and with the many groups that they reach out to, you can really feel the actual effect and benefit of our time together. But it isn’t just the youth I’ve worked with, (in Brooklyn, India, Harlem) but the other volunteers and staff create such a warm and loving community for each other!! You feel valued and loved as an artist and human, and you’re fully encouraged and supported to share the best of yourself in every moment!! ASTEP cares wholeheartedly about each community they work with and work hard on bringing artists that serve each community’s needs in the best way possible!! How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP? I have been lucky enough to be volunteering with ASTEP since April of [last] year! And I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop! 🙂 What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP? I have volunteered as a part of the WIN shelter programs, CASES program and I was honored to be a part of the Shanti Bhavan program in India of June [last] year! We were in SB for nearly a month, teaching all different kinds of arts programs for the graduation showcase! It was and always will be, one of the most treasured and life changing moments of my life! What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program? There are so many!!! But I think one of the major highlights for me would have to be watching the graduation showcase in Shanti Bhavan [last] year. Watching the children perform in front of Dr. George, their teachers, family and friends was incredibly emotional for me! You see all these exceptionally bright, talented and beautiful children whom you’ve gotten to know so well over the last few weeks, and seen work so hard, be able to own their talent and shine so brightly in front of all their peers! It was truly something so special and I hold the experience very dear to my heart. I will never forget it! I hope to watch many more graduation showcases in the future 🙂

Thank you, Karina, for volunteering with us at ASTEP! Your warm, generous and positive energy makes everyone smile! We cannot do this work without you.

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP at Shanti Bhavan, click here.

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

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Volunteer Spotlight: Devin Lloyd

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Devin Lloyd! Why do you volunteer with ASTEP? I believe in the limitless possibilities of the arts to connect us and to inspire creativity, confidence and joy in young people. How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP? 2 years! What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP? Arts-in-Action with enFamilia, Win NYC, Passages Academy, and CHOICES What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program? It is a tradition that campers cry on the final day of camp at En Familia. But on the last day in our musical theater class, our campers tearfully told each other how thankful they were for the family they had made and praised each of their friends for their work in the performance the night before. It was such a reminder of the strength of the family that is created when we make art together.

Thank you, Devin, for volunteering with us at ASTEP! You share your heart with every community you are in, and we cannot do our work without you!

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP and Arts-in-Action, click here!

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

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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.