My experience with ASTEP included my involvement in a benefit performance of Songs for a New World at Boston College. I was very impressed with the genuine motivation and commitment of the leaders of this project. They did not allow their focus to stray from what the project was really all about - helping others.
I was involved with the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp benefit concert at City Center last year. It was a wonderful experience and I met some of the kids and got to learn and experience some of their stories. I was deeply touched and honored to be a part of such a great cause. ASTEP is a great organization and does so much to help those in need. It is a rare gem and I am thrilled to be a part of it!
ASTEP is an amazing organization whose far reaching, loving arm helps children across the globe. I am so proud to have worked with Mary Mitchell and many of her team over that past years as it helps me feel connected to parts of the world that I have never been able to physically get to.
ASTEP is an organization with big heart. All the people associated with this group are passionate about the work, and do a great job of sharing that passion with everyone else involved in these fundraising concerts. Mary-Mitchell Campbell introduced me to ASTEP. She organized two concerts that I have been personally involved in...I was able to sing with many Broadway talents, and the concerts were top-notch quality. The rehearsals were well organized and our time was highly valued. Mary-Mitchell uses her Broadway connections, but never abuses them. I always look forward to working on more projects with ASTEP, and wish them the very best with their mission.
India was overwhelming. New sights, new sounds, new smells ... no one that I knew. As a volunteer with Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), I arrived full of anticipation and anxiety about my role as teacher to children of poverty at the Shanti Bhavan school in the rural Indian countryside. Shanti Bhavan is a residential school for Dalit ("Untouchable")children which seeks to "enable them to aspire to careers and professions of their choice – engineering, law, medicine, education, the arts - through world class education and globally shared values." ASTEP partners with Shanti Bhavan, sending volunteers from all over the country to help support its mission of social justice through education. As an ASTEP volunteer, I contributed to this mission through the medium of speech. My classes spanned the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades and included all levels of Public Speaking and Studies in Rhetoric. However, most of ASTEP's volunteers were performing artists dedicated to providing a creative outlet to children through the arts. The therapeutic effects of dancing and singing and performing on the kids in all of ASTEP's programs (including Africa and Homestead, Florida) is profound. Through ASTEP's curriculum the children are exposed to all forms of art, Western culture and regional topics of importance such as HIV/AIDs awareness. ASTEP's contribution to Shanti Bhavan as well as to the other groups it serves truly defines helping youth thrive within their communities. I have been involved with many different non-profits over the years, several of which benefited children, but my involvement with ASTEP was the first time that I felt like I really experienced the impact of my work. Because of ASTEP my kids in India are being gifted with a global perspective and a solid educational foundation in the arts much of which has inspired them to pursue careers in fields such as theater, dance, journalism, and public service. However, no matter their intended path, all of the children agree that their greatest passion is to one day use their success to return the love and compassion and tools which they were given as students back to their impoverished communities. To change their village. To change their country. To change the world. Now if that isn't youth thriving, I don't know what is...
Volunteering through ASTEP has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I was impressed at my initial meeting with both the passion and organization of the ASTEP staff. We discussed their partnership with a school in India for children from impoverished backgrounds and I was impressed with their compassion, cultural sensitivity and energy to bring arts volunteers to the school. This past summer I traveled to India and volunteered for 5 weeks at the school. I taught general music for grades 1-8, cello lessons after school, choir, and language arts for 3rd and 4th grades. ASTEP prepared me for every aspect of my role there and I loved working with the students! The ASTEP staff helped me prepare ideas for lesson plans, fundraising for the school and in-depth information about India and the school's history. ASTEP believes in the power of the arts to build self-esteem and creativity and as a release from the daily pressures the students face in their lives. I felt empowered and valued for what I could bring as an arts volunteer. I cannot wait to find an opportunity to go back!
I have known Mary-Mitchell Campbell since the advent of ASTEP. I have seen her vision blossom into a world-wide network of like-minded forward-acting artists making connections and inspirations in the lives of impoverished artists-in-the-making. I believe we manifest our visions in the world, and I believe in the world that ASTEP is manifesting. Outside of the box since its inception, ASTEP is the Huck Finn of nonprofits. Open-minded and adventurous, they're up for any challenge. I contacted Mary-Mitchell with an idea of putting together a benefit for Obama's first day, and the beautiful energy that pervaded the stage of Joe's Pub did as much to touch the lives of the gathered audience as it did to support the lives of those the finances would touch directly and indirectly. Every fund raised for ASTEP has that quality, siphoned through caring hands until its actual value triples in its execution. Like a favorite song, thinking of ASTEP brings a smile to my face, knowing their good is being done somewhere in the world.
Artists Striving to End Poverty is an amazing organization. I participated in their program in India and could not have had a better experience. I am a classically trained pianist and have been looking for a way to serve the world and have only found it with ASTEP. In India, I was able to teach piano, choir, general music classes, and organize two separate concerts. The children at the school were so special, and ASTEP really allowed me to have the freedom to work on different projects with the children and share my love of music.
ASTEP - Artists Striving To End Poverty is an unique, dyanamic organization that has changed my life greatly. Through my volunteer work with them I was able to bring about my talents of coordination in creating a broadway theatre community benefit concert on their behalf. I was fortunate to coordinate an event that allowed performers to shine but also illustrated the change that 'good' can be by bringing attention to the needs of peoples, communities, and children beyond our normal scope. ASTEP not only brings the attention but exerts change. From event planning, to typing letters, to mailings, to simply volunteering at major functions, I have the apparent and full knowing that a difference is being made without regards from simple 'self.' ASTEP is a phenomenal experience in every way. By being part of their community I am able to use my gifts and recieve the gift of knowing that I can make an impact in a global endeavor. It has been one of the best organizations I have been fortunate to work with. And more than that, one of the most dedicated to change.
It is difficult to put the entire experience into a few words, but I will attempt by saying this. My experience volunteering for ASTEP changed my life. The extremely high level of dedication that was demanded of me, the very hours the team put in everyday, attests to the program's ability to turn an artist into an educator. The ASTEP model has proven to have an equally powerful impact on the teachers, as it has on the students. Everybody goes through some degree of honest transformation at the camp due to all of the positivity and encouragement that is in the air. I look forward to volunteering again for ASTEP, and encourage any young artist who has the desire to teach to consider this program!
I first encountered ASTEP in my sophomore of college. I was studying theatre and knew that I had an interest in using my art to enrich the lives of children. I approached a professor to see if she knew of any opportunities to teach theatre to children internationally and she introduced me to the people at ASTEP. Little did I know what a huge impact that introduction would have on my life in the years to come. I began volunteering in the ASTEP office doing whatever needed to get done. This meant writing adds on Craig's List for a web-designer, updating the contact database, organizing receipts etc. This might not sound so delightful, and it was definitely grunt work, but I was also privy to some very stimulating conversations going on around the office. I began to understand how a non-profit works and I discovered that I had a lot to learn. I kept coming into the office every week and at the end of my Junior year I was asked to participate in ASTEP's India program. The summer after my junior year I spent 2 months at Shanti Bhavan, a school in India for children of the untouchable caste. I taught high-school theatre and 4th grade math and English (I also have a degree in elementary education). The kids were incredibly inspiring and I absolutely fell in love with them. After I graduated college ASTEP asked me if I would be willing to return to India and work for them as an on-the-ground volunteer coordinator for their India program. That is where I am today! What I have learned working with ASTEP is that the work we do is not about solving problems. It is about asking tough, sometimes unanswerable questions. We are constantly engaging in dialogue. Dialogue about culture, community, childhood development and the purpose of art. It is that dialogue that leads to greater understanding and our desire to offer our time, energy and hearts to try and make a contribution to the world. Volunteering is not always easy. It can often be frustrating and uncomfortable. That is part of what I love about volunteering. Being outside of our comfort zone helps us to learn and grow. Every day presents a new set of challenges. Every day also presents a new series of rewards. I have learned more from the strength and humanity of the children of Shanti Bhavan than anyone else in the world. I have also become a better artist because of how they inspire me every day. I am also eternally inspired and supported by everyone at ASTEP. We are truly a team and we are all in it together. My experience with ASTEP has been life-changing and fulfilling. I hope to continue to work with them for many years to come.
ASTEP is an amazing organization. The idea of artists using their talent and art to directly help underprivileged adults and children get out of poverty is incredible and very rewarding for those involved. The organization is very well-run, the mission clear, and the follow-up on all levels fantastic. I am honored to be part of such a wonderful group.
II participated in an Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) program by volunteering at Shanti Bhavan, a residential school in southern India, from February 2009 to April 2009. It was the most meaningful, profound, life-changing experience of my life. I am extremely grateful to ASTEP for providing me with this opportunity, and I encourage others to participate in ASTEP's programs. I left behind my hectic desk job by day, musician by night, Chicago lifestyle and found myself in an oasis of peace, hope and purpose at Shanti Bhavan, a beautiful school providing excellence in education for children from the lowest caste. I lived there with the other volunteers, teachers, staff and the 200+ students, teaching guitar lessons, 5th grade math, 6th grade English, 9th grade world history, helping with the choir and playing soccer with the 3rd and 4th graders. Other ASTEP volunteers from New York, Boston, Florida, and England taught theater classes, art classes, self defense classes and other subjects, and we all worked together to do all we could to enrich the lives of the eager-to-learn students of Shanti Bhavan. Before I left for India, ASTEP's wonderful staff was extremely helpful in preparing me for the journey. After undergoing a thorough application process with them, which included some thought provoking questions and phone interviews with their leadership, they accepted me into the program. They helped me raise money to pay for the cost of my airfare and vaccinations by setting up a fundraising website for me and giving me other fundraising tools and ideas of ways to raise money. I ended up raising $1,100.00 which covered the cost of my airfare and vaccinations. ASTEP handled everything for me, meaning that I never even had to contact the school before I arrived there. ASTEP had coordinated everything with the school before my arrival, so I was picked up at the airport and brought directly to the school, where I had a room prepared for me, and I was provided with good food and a helpful staff. ASTEP had been in close contact with me before the trip assuring that I would be mentally prepared for the experience and had everything I needed. Most importantly, ASTEP enabled me to be part of a meaningful mission that focused on using education and the arts to better the lives of children and make an impact in the world. This experience was a wake up call to me, and has changed the direction of my life.
I had a wonderful experience working with ASTEP and Mary-Mitchell Campbell. The concert we put together was beautiful, fun, and moving. Mary-Mitchell's heart is enormous, and it shows in the love and care she puts into ASTEP. It felt amazing to be able to share my talent to help such a worthy cause and to know that the money raised would help children in India.
I have watched ASTEP grow over the past few years and have been so impressed with the work that they do and the passion with which they do it. So much so that I wanted to become involved in some way myself! So last December I put together a holiday concert to benefit the organization. It was really an amazing experience-- so many people jumped in to volunteer their time because they had heard about ASTEP or had already volunteered with ASTEP. And to hear people speak that evening about the life-changing experiences they had working with ASTEP in India was incredibly moving. They really are a top-notch organization truly with a mission to make this world a better place for children in need.
I have been working with ASTEP for 5 years now, and it has changed my life. Most of all it has provided me a avenue to change other lives through the camps. It is a process oriented program that makes sure that all voices are heard in the creative and community activities. It helps me recognize how life is a constant creative process and that it is important to aproach all situations with an artists eye. Most of all, we have a lot of fun.
This is an amazing organization that is bringing good things to people who otherwise would not have opportunities to learn and help their communities out of the grinding cycle of poverty
There are so many talented artists out there who want the chance to use their skills for something beyond themselves and ASTEP gives them that chance. And there are so many children who need outlets for self expression and for someone to take an interest in them as creative individuals so they can thrive and ASTEP gives them that chance. I only wish the program and its benefit concerts (which draw an amazing amount of talent) could get more publicity so that the program could continue to get the resources it requires.
Mary-Mitchell Campbell with the help of her superb staff have devised a unique way for to basically save the world!! I had the pleasure to visit India with her about 2 years ago. It was an experience I will never forget. Watching her be so hands on with the children was not only moving but so inspiring. She could just as easily hire a huge staff and send them. But she doesnt. Not only does she go herself but there is an in depth interview process that each applicant must go through before she sends them to execute the mission of Astep. This is a one of a kind organization!
The people from ASTEP are amazing! While being so involved with music and their own lives, they still find time to give to others. Meeting other people with this mindset and working alongside with them was just such a great experience. I've met so many interesting people, and so many friends-for-life.