I’ve always believed that service on behalf of others should be an integral part of one’s life. My volunteer experiences have taken me from the public schools of West Philadelphia to orphanages in Nairobi and now back to my hometown. SUPRA allows me to work with and learn about those living in my own community and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do so.MONDAY TEACHER COORDINATOR We are currently looking for a Monday Teacher Coordinator for AY 2015-16! If you are a passionate and organized individual, who has their own car and is free on Monday nights, contact SUPRA's Vice President, May Maani (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see how you can become an invaluable asset to our team. WEDNESDAY TEACHER COORDINATOR Gretchen Wesche Hometown: Napoleon, OH SU College: Maxwell (International Relations) For as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to connect with people from all over the world. Before I came to Syracuse for my Masters, I spent some time abroad (mainly in Europe and Morocco) and upon returning served as an AmeriCorps member in Buffalo. For my first term, I served as a financial literacy adviser for refugees just resettling in the US and for my second term I served in a post-resettlement agency as a teacher for their after-school program for middle school students. I believe strongly that, if anything, welcoming people from various backgrounds is what has made the US great in the past and will continue to make it great in the future. For me, to be a part of newcomers’ journeys, particularly those who have overcome so much and continue to do so, is an honor. I am grateful to SUPRA for providing an opportunity to continue this service in Syracuse and excited to be working with so many others who share my enthusiasm. FRIDAY TEACHER COORDINATOR Carmen Smith Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota SU College: Maxwell (Public Administration) I started volunteering with youth as a teen and continued throughout college. During my senior year of college, one of my courses had a community service component. I wanted to gain a different volunteering experience than what I had done in the past. Being raised by an immigrant mother, I grew up seeing how non-native English speakers struggled in everyday life. So, my mother’s experiences motivated me to choose the opportunity to work with ESL adults. What amazed me about our students was that they were incredibly hardworking, dedicated, and never complained. Their biggest motivation was to give their families a better opportunity than what they had, which is what my mother had done for us. SUPRA is a chance for me to work with ESL students again. As a grad student, I do not want to be isolated from the community I'm living in. SUPRA is a way for me to engage in Syracuse’s dynamic and diverse culture. Because of my past experiences volunteering, I am confident that I will get as much out of working with SUPRA as I will put into it.
PRESIDENT Eric Horvath Hometown: Sayville, New York SU College: Maxwell (Public Administration) My perspective on volunteering has evolved a lot over the last several years. It started on a service project to El Salvador, when I was an eager (though naïve) volunteer who thought he was going to rescue the world in two weeks. El Salvador propelled me to the farms of Lithuania, alternative schools for North Koreans, into the lives of adoptees, and now, the northside of Syracuse. Over the years, and across my travels, I have failed to rescue the world. Instead, with its poverty, inequality, lack of opportunity, beauty and charisma, the world and its people continue to rescue me from a life of insulation and ingratitude. I volunteer with SUPRA because I believe there should be a paradigm shift, where success, happiness, and fulfilment in life are not determined by circumstances out of one’s control (e.g. birth, conflict) and everyone is striving for a more equitable world. Where volunteering is not lauded, not praised, but second-nature. I am grateful to SUPRA’s volunteers (with special acknowledgment to those on this page below me), students, and supporters for giving me what I set out to give the El Salvadoran people: everything. VICE PRESIDENT May Maani Hometown: Dali, China SU College: Maxwell (Public Administration) I grew up in Hong Kong and semirural China, the child of an Iranian father and a Chilean mother with a passion for community development. It is this background that has led me to believe that service and challenging yourself to think and act differently through exposure to diversity are two fixtures of a rewarding and fulfilling life. In coming to Syracuse, a major concern of mine was that, while pursuing an MPA degree would further my utility and prospects in the long-run, it would come at the expense of time spent serving and learning through diversity. Happily, this has not been the case. SUPRA has provided me with an opportunity to “get off the hill” and not only expose myself to the cultural richness of the Syracuse refugee community, but also to contribute in what I hope is a useful and sustainable way. I look forward to continuing to bridge the university and refugee communities, and partnering with students and staff in adding to the vibrancy and momentum of Syracuse. CURRICULUM Alyssa Gauthier Hometown: Central Square, New York SU College: Arts and Sciences (Linguistics) Ever since I was young, I have been interested in other languages and cultures. Once I began my undergraduate years at SUNY Oswego, I realized that my calling was in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages). A language barrier greatly impacts how well new families in any area can integrate themselves into society and find happiness through new relationships. In this profession, I could begin to help refugees and immigrants to form bonds with people in their new surroundings. So, I began volunteering at Hopeprint a year ago, having group conversations with adult English Language Learners. This year, I found myself wanting to see more of what Syracuse offers in the way of English education for adults. That is how I found myself with SUPRA. I am able to receive an insider's view of adult English education in this city and am eager to have a role in shaping it. DEVELOPMENT Ann Van Hometown: Carlisle, Pennsylvania SU College: Maxwell (International Relations) Growing up, I was part of the only refugee family in town. Home to me is a house of busy adults slowly adopting a new language, children who just cannot stop sharing stories about their new environment, and a warm bowl of phở. Carlisle, PA is now home to many refugees and immigrants. Having shared good moments or even helping to reshape bad times with my neighbors is one, significant part of my identity. I am now taking my refugee experience a step further. I will work to strengthen SUPRA as an organization, so that our work continues into the far future without any hitches. I hope to add positively to the refugee experience in Syracuse through my time with SUPRA. FINANCE Guanwen (Janet) Lai Hometown: Shanghai, China SU College: Whitman (Accounting) My passion growing up has always been giving back to the community where I live. In college, I was part of a program called ‘Junior Achievement’ in Shanghai, serving as a volunteer teacher. Before coming to Syracuse, I attended Johns Hopkins for my first Masters (Finance) and volunteered for Baltimore Children’s Museum. When I heard about SUPRA, I jumped at this amazing opportunity to serve the Syracuse community. I believe working with SUPRA will be an especially rewarding experience for me because of my perspective on the world and its peoples. Refugees, like everyone else on Earth, are all part of one big community whose members should be treated equally. SUPRA is close-knit family, whose members show strong commitment and sincerity in its cause, and I am overjoyed and honored to become a part of this family. WEB Janessa Price Hometown: Syracuse, New York SU College: Newhouse (Public Relations) Maxwell (International Relations)