What’s in my brown bag

Hi Oxbridge Students,

Well it looks like from your blogs that the brown paper bag exercise was not even the least bit torturous – despite us meeting first thing in the morning!

Week 2 might be my favorite class in the Main Street Philanthropy program. Not only do you find out what teams you are on – you all chose:

Animal Care, Hospitals & People with Disabilities, Hunger, Veterans, Emergency & Disaster Relief and Health Research

but you also get to share your brown paper bag items (three small objects that help tell the story of your life). It’s fascinating to here students talk about what is central to their lives – whether car keys, a college pamphlet or a stuffed animal. It’s impossible to be bored!

As I walked around the room, I saw smiles of recognition as you realized that you shared something surprising in common with someone on your team. My favorite example of this is that Tahira and Evan both brought in little stuffed animals to symbolize their love of tigers and dogs. AND both students are on the Animal Care team – everything is falling into place!

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Ok, just so I don’t feel left out, here are my brown paper bag items. First is the one I shared with the class – The Wall Street Journal clipping:


As I explained in class, this item is about my relationship with my grandfather and his desire to share his knowledge and curiosity about the world with his grandchildren. I am so grateful to have grown up with bright and loving grandparents. They remind me about the continuity in our family. My grandfather’s gift of a subscription to the WSJ was like him saying, “Let’s have this store of information in common. Let’s chat about it.” Unfortunately, truth be told, those papers are piling up so after this post I’m going to go catch up!

Next up is a little wooden nativity carving:Nativity

I bought this on a trip to Italy with my husband-to-be, so on one level it represents my love of traveling with him. The carving also represents my collection of nativities (a passion I share with my grandma). I didn’t grow up in a very religious family, but we always celebrated the advent season and the Christmas story with special family traditions, some dating back to Sweden (our “home” country). Even as a small kid, I was fascinated by the story of Mary and Joseph…Someday I hope to show my collection to my own kids as part of our Christmas celebrations.

And lastly, the small painted stone from Dominica, the island where I lived and worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer:

DominicaStoneThe stone represents the beauty of this volcanic island. It was the most breathtaking place I have ever lived. The experience of living in a small farming village (population 500) is one that I carry with me but isn’t always obvious. Like a stone in my pocket, it’s easy to forget about it as I go through my daily routine of hot showers, driving my car and picking up dry cleaning… But then something will happen, like I’ll notice a storm hovering over the ocean or see someone who looks like one of the kids who befriended me and suddenly the whole experience will come rushing back. Here is a photo of me doing one of my favorite things in Dominica (reading to sweet little kids):

Ok keep up the GREAT work and keep blogging!


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