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San Domenico School News & Events

Alumni Spotlight: Mika Weissbuch ’07

Where did you go to college?

Mount Holyoke College

Can you briefly describe the project for which you were awarded the JDB award at San Domenico?

I started an English tutoring program for Micronesians at a homeless shelter in Hawaii (where I have family).

How did the ROSE project impact your current work?

While the project in Hawaii did not continue after I returned to school, it planted a seed that led to “Podcasts for Peace” in 2011, a children’s program and community center in a neighborhood bordering the municipal dump in Managua, Nicaragua, that started with the goal of empowering youth through the digital arts. Since then, it has expanded based on the needs and desires of community members to include English, dance, arts and crafts, journalism, and photography classes, reading hour and homework sessions, workshops and trips, community projects, family gardens, a support group for young mothers, physical fitness, weekly movie nights, and more.     

The program continues to evolve. I help facilitate an internship exchange program with students from the US and meet with the team over Skype, but except for fundraising (which I’ve learned is a struggle that never really goes away), I’m not needed in Nicaragua to keep the program going. I currently support “Podcasts for Peace” from the Bay Area, and work at an early childhood literacy nonprofit in Oakland.  

What about your time at San Domenico do you think influenced the direction you took during your college years and beyond?

The values of social and environmental justice have stayed with me in all the work that I have done. I think that these values in education are so important for us to respond to all the challenges we face. The JDB award helped prepare me to adapt to the challenges and needs of the community in Nicaragua.

What is the greatest struggle you have had in bringing your plan to fruition?

At the time, I didn’t understand what was needed to sustain a project, especially when faced with unanticipated obstacles.
 
What is the greatest joy you have had in realizing your plan?

I enjoyed my interactions with the residents of the shelter and playing with the children.
 
If there is some wisdom you could impart to aspiring students in their ROSE projects, what would it be?

I would encourage students to not be afraid of failure and to use the experiences, resources, and privileges you have to be bold, compassionate, reflective, humble, and restless in pursuit of a more just world.
 
Is there anything else you would like to share with the SD community?

I am grateful to San Domenico and the Julie Davis Butler award and the impact they have had on my life and the lives of hundreds of people in Nicaragua. To see some of the work at Podcasts for Peace, you can visit: www.facebook.com/PodcastsforPeace.