Kelly's email about why she wanted to work with SOTENI
Kelly Thorne Muzzi
(July 8, 1984 - April 1, 2005)

Dancing Angel

From: Kelly Muzzi
To: Mom Dad
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 10:24:54 PM
Subject: Fwd: SOTENI Questions

Here you go mom!

--- Kelly Muzzi wrote:

> Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 11:31:16 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Kelly Muzzi
> Subject: SOTENI Questions
> To: soteni@...
>
> Dear Dr. Wells,
>
> Here are the answers to your questions.  When would
> you like to schedule the phone interview?  Again,
> thank you for your time!
>
> 1.  I want to work with SOTENI because:
>
> In reading SOTENI’s website, I was really struck by
> the way it speaks about AIDS as an illness that
> inequitably affects the poor, those who are already
> disenfranchised.  I have been very fortunate all of
> my life.  I would love the opportunity to use my good
> health and energy to improve the lives of those who
> are suffering. I want to learn about another culture.
> As a student at Bennington College, I spend much of
> my time exploring my academic and artistic passions.
> This process is wonderful and rewarding.  I would
> like to spend my FWT doing something that is not about
> me-instead, focusing on how I can help other people.  I
> want to help improve people’s lives, in whatever
> ways I can.  I want to create the opportunity for
> individuals to discover their voices and explore
> different ways of expressing themselves.
> I want to have tangible experience with these issues
> that I have previously only read about.
>
> 2.  I would like to spend my hours doing:
>
> I would love to help in the training of young
> leaders.  SOTENI’s dedication to the empowerment of women and
> children (specifically orphans) really appeals to
> me. I would like to learn about what it takes to
> maintain the programming, and then help teach people how to
> it themselves.  If the organization was comfortable
> with it, and if there was training available for me, I
> would be interested in doing some counseling work
> with people affected by/ diagnosed with AIDS.  I would
> also love to work to educate women who are infected and
> pregnant on their options to reduce transmission to
> their child.  Also, I would be interested in helping
> to educate people about how to prevent yourself from
> contracting the virus (HIV).
> In addition, I would be interested in working with
> storytelling programs to encourage people to speak
> out about their experiences.  Also, I think it might be
> interested to set up arts programming for these
> children, as an outlet for the grief that they may
> feel at the loss of their parents/ loved ones.
> Essentially, I want to work with the people as much
> as possible.
>
> 3.  This experience would help/transform me because:
>
> In thinking about Africa, one of the first
> sensations that comes to mind is fear and a sense of
> foreboding.  I can sense in myself a large number of cultural
> stereotypes about Africa, a place usually dismissed
> by those in the West as the “dark continent.”  I think
> the best way to work through fear is by experience.
> People are afraid of things they don’t understand.
> By getting a first hand experience, I would be able to
> work through many cultural fears and stereotypes.
> Often, places that are said to be dangerous are very
> poor.  Danger warns people away, so they do not see
> the flip side of their lives, those who are driven
> to desperation, often by circumstances beyond their
> control.  Up to this point in my life,  I have never
> had to see this other world- I have been fortunate.
>
> I want to experience poverty first hand.  This will
> help me because it will give me a real sense of
> perspective on the life I am so fortunate to lead.
> In focusing all my energy on helping other people, I
> hope to find a new sense of who I am.  I would like to be
> able to open myself completely to this experience,
> letting go of old habits and cultural patterns in
> order, perhaps, to get a better sense of what is at
> the core of who I am.
>
> 4.  I bring these qualities/experiences to the
> position:
>
> The first thing that jumps to mind is my experience
> with Youth Empowerment.  In high school, I was very
> involved in the youth group at my church (Unitarian
> Universalist) that was founded on the principals of
> Youth Empowerment.  We were part of a nation wide
> group that works on these principals- the Young
> Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU.)  This
> group is completed organized and run by youth ages 14-20,
> with adult advisers to act as resources rather than
> leaders.  I was the co-chair of my church’s group
> when I was a senior in high school.  Youth organized
> weekend conferences, weekly meetings, church
> services, social action events, and worship services.  It was
> an incredible opportunity to have so much faith placed
> in us.  I would like to be able to bring the skills I
> learned from this experience to SOTENI to help
> empower the youth of Kenya.
> My experience last FWT would be really helpful in
> that it includes both working with kids as well as
> experience within a family planning organization.  I
> am familiar with both various methods of birth
> control options as well as a working knowledge of most
> sexually transmitted infections.
> Another opportunity I had in high school was to work
> for Common Ground Sanctuary, a social service agency
> in Bloomfield Hills, MI.  I received extensive
> training (including crisis intervention, domestic
> violence, sexual assault and other mental health
> issues) to work on their crisis line and then later
> to work as a peer counselor with their in-home
> counseling department.  As a peer counselor I was considered a
> full part of the counseling team for Common Ground’s
> short term in-home family counseling program.  I
> helped facilitate weekly family meetings as well as
> individual private counseling with the child of the
> family.
>
> 5-7.  Location Preference
>
> My choices, in order of preference are rural Kenya,
> Nairobi, and then Cincinnati.  I am drawn to the
> rural environment because it would be an opportunity to
> see what village life is like outside of the (possible?)
> Westernizing influence of a major modern city.  I
> also would safer in a smaller community, and I think this
> would enable me to give more of myself to the work
> that I would be doing.  Nairobi would be an
> incredible experience- to be enmeshed in a different culture in
> a huge place.  It would be an opportunity to really
> see the large scale effects of poverty.  Having spent my
> last two FWT’s in cities, Nairobi would be a chance
> to live in a very different urban environment.  I am
> really interested in the cross cultural exchange
> prospects of going to Africa, hence why Cincinnati
> falls last on my list.
>
> 8.  Please be aware of these limitations,
> inexperience, concerns, and/or constraints:
>
> I have never been abroad.  I do not have any
> experience in cross cultural situations except when
> they are on my turf- people visiting America.  I do
> not know what it will be like to be in such a
> different place (that is part of what appeals to me
> about this opportunity.)  One concern that I’ve
> already mention is safety.  The research I’ve done
> (mostly on the Internet, also through conversations
> with friends) has shown recurrent warnings against
> petty theft, robbery, and a terrorist threat,
> especially in Nairobi.  Though I do not believe in
> avoiding places solely out of fear of them, I would
> take comfort in hearing about your experiences and
> the different safety resources that exist.
> I’ve never been around people with AIDS.  I
> anticipate that I may have some initial fear and discomfort in
> these first interactions, but it is something I am
> committed to working through.  As I’ve mentioned
> before, I really want the chance to make contact
> with people who have previously just been statistics.
>
> 9-10.  My interest and availability for future
> unpaid/paid work with SOTENI is:
>
> I would be interested in the possibility of working
> with SOTENI in the future, perhaps for a summer or
> after I get out of college.  As a junior, I am still
> not decided on the course of my life after school.
> One thing I am sure of is that the it would be a
> much greater possibility to work with SOTENI in the
> future if it was paid work.
>
> 11.  I would like to introduce SOTENI to:
>
> The Child’s Play Touring Theatre model of story
> telling and enacting stories.  This is the
> organization that I worked for last FWT in Chicago,
> IL.  They go all over the country to elementary
> schools and community centers and give writing
> workshops that promote literacy. Then, the students
> write stories in their classes and the teachers send
> their stories to CPTT.  Child’s Play then chooses a
> few stories to be performed at another assembly at
> the school.  They also offer short residency programs,
> in which they work with a few classes and they perform
> their own stories.  I had the chance to work with a
> group of second graders in a two-week residency last
> FWT.  It was a wonderful experience.  The students
> were very engaged in the process and had a lot of
> fun.  I would love to be able to apply this model with
> the orphans and OVC that SOTENI services.
>
> 12.  I also want to share:
>
> One way that this FWT fits into my overall plan here
> at Bennington is through the opportunity to hear
> women’s stories.  Next term, I am directing the
> first act of Top Girls, a play by Caryl Churchill written
> in the 1980’s.  The scene is an imaginary dinner party
> that Marlene, a career woman who has just been
> promoted to manager of the employment agency where
> she works, hosts with her five favorite women from
> history.  The guests come from very different times
> and places:  Pope Joan, the woman who was Pope in
> the 9th century, Isabella Bird, the Victorian traveler,
> Lady Nijo-a concubine to the Japanese emperor and
> later Buddhist nun who walked across Japan for 20
> years, Patient Griselda from Chaucer and Dull Gret
> from the Brueghel painting of the same name.  The
> action of the scene is story telling- this play
> deals with finding similarities despite extreme apparent
> difference.  Working with women in Kenya would
> broaden me to another way of storytelling.  The stories of
> women’s lives are rarely validated, any where in the
> world.  Part of what draws me to this play is
> because it tells the stories of five extraordinary women,
> who most people are not familiar with.  I want to learn
> about the female experience in Kenya.  A first hand
> chance to work with storytelling and hear about
> these women’s lives would be quite beneficial to me, as
> well as to my work with this play in the spring.
>
> 13.  I have other ideas for SOTENI:
>
> I would like to work with children and women to make
> skits about how to prevent AIDS that they could use
> to educate other people within their communities.  This
> could work similarly to the Barefoot Doctor’s
> program.  I’m interested in investigating the existing
> cultural performance and story telling styles of the culture
> to find a medium that is readily accessible to people.
>
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Kelly Muzzi
> Bennington College
> Bennington, VT 05201