Repair Interview: Brian Arya Khorshad and Heather Gutentag on Repair the World’s Student Leader Orientationby Leah Koenig | July 18, 2012 | 0 comments
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Repair the World? Here’s your chance to find out. Last week, Repair the World held an orientation for a new group of young changemakers – student leaders who will represent Repair the World and our grantee-partner organization, Hillel, on their college campuses next year.
The students travelled to Seattle for an intense but FUN few days of learning, service, and getting to know one another. Highlights included an eye-opening, social justice-focused trip to downtown Seattle, visiting with some of the city’s best non-profit organizations including City Year, and lots of brainstorming sessions about how to bring service and social justice to campus.
We dug behind the scenes (okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT hard) to speak with two orientation participants: Brian Arya Khorshad, who will serve as a Repair the World student fellow at UCLA Hillel this coming year and Heather Gutentag, who will serve as a Repair the World intern at University of Texas Hillel. Read on to hear their personal highlights, goals for the coming year, and what it’s really like to chill with Repair the World’s staff.
What was the most inspiring part about orientation?
Brian: The discussions Rabbi Will [Berkovitz] conducted challenged my previous conceptions of social justice and service work. His impassioned speeches compelled me to expand my efforts to affect social change. I now believe that my actions can and will impact the UCLA and greater Los Angeles community.
Heather: I was really inspired when we discussed what a vow or oath was. It made me think beyond social justice about my life. When we got to write our own vows, I realized that I was putting a lot of emphasis on parts of my life that aren’t that important. This weekend in Seattle really made me think about how I want to make a difference.
What surprised you about the orientation?
Brian: My favorite part of the orientation was our excursion into downtown Seattle. The Repair organizers pushed us to converse with locals in various corners of the city. Locals’ willingness to share their experiences and hardships proved to me that even a simple conversation can provide catharsis for those who are suffering.
Heather: I wasn’t expecting this weekend to be so inspiring. I was expecting a focus on social justice with explanations about what my new job description would be, but nothing so thought-provoking. I’m not only motivated about being an intern, but about social justice and service as well.
What will you be doing during your Repair the World student internship?
Brian: In the coming year I plan to address the rampant homelessness which plagues the city of Los Angeles. Specifically, I’d like to understand the local problems which lead to homelessness by conversing with paupers and shelters. Ideally my program would assist the Los Angeles community in getting homeless teens and preteens off of the streets.
Heather: This year, the UT interns will be focusing on all aspects of social justice regarding children. We’re planning to partner up with a few local organizations that work with kids in need. Special needs, literacy, and mentorship are what we’re excited to be working on. I’m also really excited to help plan and attend my first immersive break and/or weekend.
What are you looking forward to most about the fellowship?
Brian: I’m looking forward to expanding the service identity of the UCLA campus community. As citizens of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, we all must recognize the power our efforts can have to effect change not only in our own nation, but also in the far reaches of the globe.
Heather: I’m really excited to be getting involved with service and education. I was very involved in high school and always found it rewarding and inspiring and this is a great way to continue it. Helping children is a passion of mine, which is how I chose my major, so I’m pumped to be working with and helping kids in need. I’m excited to learn and help establish a legacy of social justice at UT through Hillel.