Field Trip: BIF – September 13 & 14, 2018

Same place.   Different people.  Same mission.

Same results – life changing.

‘Life changing’ is not an exaggeration.  Meeting smart, innovative, courageous, successful, and curious people has a way of influencing lives and perspectives of the future.   After attending BIF, the hope for our Life Skills students is not too different from all the Forum attendees, that is, to be inspired to reflect on our present lives and empowered to maximize our skills and opportunities for future success.

This has been the story of the Hope Life Skills student experience at the annual BIF summit at the Trinity Theatre in Providence for the last 8 years.   The mission for Hope students remains observe, listen, reflect and then, when feeling comfortable to push out of our comfort zone, engage other Forum attendees and the BIF story tellers appearing before them on the Trinity stage for conversation.  In the process, our questions get answered, our storytelling abilities get better and we build valuable networks of successful, good people.   I trust, for many if not all, it did.

The BIF stage prior to the start of the Forum.

Coach” Cronin sharing the game plan for BIF 2018 with the Hope Life Skills students upon their arrival under the theatre marquee.

As Mr Cronin presents a sample of the Hope Life Skills student business card to be issued in October, he encourages the students to ask for the business cards of the attendees and storytellers they meet.   “While you’re networking at the Forum, don’t hesitate to ask for business cards as you begin to build your network of successful, good people.  You’ll have your own cards soon.

Scientist Andrew Hessell on the BIF stage.  An expert in biotech, Andrew Hessel helps people better understand and use living systems to meet the needs of society. His latest work as CEO of Humane Geonomics, Inc. is developing virus-based therapies for cancer, starting with dogs

Hope Life Skills student, Selene Bun, takes the initiative to introduce herself to Andrew Hessell following his appearance on the BIF stage and ask a few questions.

Isaiah Mancini (center ) and Khadiatou Njie (far right) engage Mr Hessell in conversation during the break between storytelling sessions.

Several Hope Life Skills students had conversations with Andrew Hessell during the break!

Quentin Robinson is Aka SpecialFX.  Robinson is breaking down social, cultural and economic barriers through dance and movement.  Besides being a teacher, Quentin is Marine Corps veteran having served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Andy Ben, Anto’ne Langley, Alexander Reigosa and Hector Guerrero speak with Quentin during one of the breaks.

Selene Bun speaks with BIF story teller, Vika Viktoria, in the lobby of Trinity Theatre at the end of the first day. Vika is an adventurer and storyteller of life and work. Vika, a native-born Ukrainian, is a MOTH StorySLAM winner and contributing writer for VICE. She has a passion for meeting new people and has committed her life to this endeavor.  Vika shares the stories of the people she meets and greets throughout the world in the hope of making the world a friendlier and happier place.

Lelea Bamba introduces herself to BIF storyteller, Yolanda Wisher, as Ms Wisher reaches into her bag for a business card to give Lelea.  A Philadelphia-based poet, educator and curator whose work focuses on genealogy, urban life, and public art, Wisher performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters. A Pew Fellow & Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, Wisher was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry Festivals. She is currently the Curator of Spoken Word for Philadelphia Contemporary.

Lelea Bamba shows one of Yolanda Wisher’s poetry books – Yolanda autographed the book for Lelea.

Anto’ne Langley (far left) and Khadiatou Njie speak with Yolanda Wisher as she autographs one of her poetry books.

Isaiah networks with a BIF attendee at the end of the first day.

Alexander Reigosa and Kevin Torres met with BIF storyteller James Anderson at the conclusion of Day 1 of BIF.   James’ story revealed what a person can do do when you find the power of love and true self-worth. James was raised in a violently abusive family.  He was a drug addict, gang member, and served a lengthy prison sentence.  Upon his release from prison, he went on to attend UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) and graduated with honors in two majors.  James is the co-founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, (one of California’s leading advocates for the formerly incarcerated) and sits on the board of several non-profits focusing on juvenile justice.

Mr Cronin lays out the day’s game plan for several new Hope students before Day 2 of the Forum. You can see Kevin Torres standing in the background.  Kevin attended Day 1 and asked Mr Cronin if he could come to Day 2 as well.  After seeing how engaged Kevin was during Day 1, introducing himself to so many BIF story tellers and attendees, followed by probing and insightful conversations resulting in important contacts for Kevin’s growing personal network, Mr Cronin had no choice but “yes” to Kevin.

Lelea Bamba (left) and Lucy Salado enjoy BIF’s continental breakfast prior to the start of Day 2.

Christian Hernandez, Paola Varela Munguia, and Lesley Duran also enjoy a BIF breakfast prior to the start of Day 2.

The BIF Day 2 team with ‘Captain’ Shai Afsai ready to network with attendees and storytellers.

Lesley Duran and Jose Quintanilla network during one of the breaks.

Hope Life Skills student, Marianella Galan (on the right),speaks with a BIF attendee whom she met the previous year, Claudia Cardoza.  Claudia is the Community Development Manager / CRA Officer at Coastway Community Bank. She also owns a consulting business teaching leadership skills to businessmen and women.  She is also a  Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.  Marianella gives Claudia her business card while Claudia gives Marianellla hers.

Kevin, Christian and Jose ‘network’ with BIF storyteller James Anderson and another guest during one of the breaks.

Kevin Torres introduces himself to BIF storyteller, Perry Raso.  A Rhode Island native, Perry has grown his passion from harvesting a few oysters for a couple dollars at 12 years of age to operating one of the world’s best restaurant’s, promoting a farm-to-table, pond-to-plate practices in sustainable aquaculture. Matunuck Oyster Bar now employs over 200 people and has been named one of the top 10 oyster bars in the world.

BIF storyteller, Royce Mann. Royce is a 16-year-old activist and poet.  Since videos of his original poem “White Boy Privilege” went viral in 2016, landing him on every major network and in countless international publications, Royce has had the opportunity to perform and speak around the country, including at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, the NEXUS Leadership Summit, the National Youth Leadership Council, Points of Light Foundation, GLAAD Annual Awards, and the True Colors Conference.

From left to right – Lucy Salado, Brianna Chamorro, BIF storyteller Royce Mann, Marianella Galan and Paola Varela Munguia network during one of the breaks on Day 2.

This is a great moment from Day 2 at BIF.  Hope Life Skills student, Kevin Torres (blue jacket), introduces his fellow Hope classmate, Lelea Bamba, to BIF storyteller, Royce Mann, during the outdoor sushi dinner following Day 2 at BIF.

Marianella, Lucy and Lelea meet with BIF storyteller, Kimberley Cy Motley.  Kimberly is the first non-Afghan attorney to litigate in Afghanistan Criminal Courts. She is the founder of Motley Legal Services.  Her work has focused on juvenile justice as well as training hundreds of Afghan Attorney’s throughout the country.  Kimberley told a chilling story of rescuing a women who had been kidnapped, held against her will in Afghanistan in order to be sold to a Pakistani man.

Paola and Shai Afsai have a conversation with Kimberly during one of the breaks on Day 2.

BIF storyteller, Marcel Botha, is an entrepreneur, engineer, architect, and investor who experiments with fascinating, innovative ideas.  Marcel specializes in designing unique devices from the initial idea through production and finally the sale.  Check out the screen above Marcel as he speaks about his vision for individual, electric, flying planes, cars…….

Mark Brand was the last storyteller to appear on the Trinity Theatre stage at BIF 2018 with a most powerful story.  Notice the photo on the screen above Mark.   Mark has committed himself to helping the homeless.  Mark is determined to find a new way to help the homeless with nutritious meals served in an environment that is most respectful and nourishing.  To overcome the reluctance many people have of giving money to the homeless fearing the money will be used on drugs or alcohol, Mark has created tokens to be given to the homeless which can only be used at his restaurants.  He started the token program in Canada to provide those living in homelessness with dignified, quality meals while bringing the entire community and their support together.  Mark is opening additional token restaurants in other cities.

Mark meets with Kevin and Lelea at the sushi reception following Day 2 at BIF.

Brianna greets one of the BIF attendees at the end of Day 2 while Kevin, Marianella, Lesley, Paola and Lucy look on.

Sushi reception for all attendees and storytellers following Day 2 at BIF 2018.

Before heading home from BIF Day 2, Lucy and Brianna enjoy the sushi.








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