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Ovation Chai Point Adds New Story Experience Fellow from UWM

Kavod Connections

This fall, Ovation Chai Point welcomed a new resident— University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) graduate student Sara Issa. Sara is one of this year’s Story Experience Fellows, a new position (previously known as the Student Artist in Residence) in which upperclassmen from UWM and Marquette University spend their school year engaging with and living in a facility in the Milwaukee area while also attending their regular classes.

“I applied for this program because I would like to know more about the American culture as well as develop my own communicative skills,” Sara said. “Sometimes I feel shy about communicating with new people, but I try to have conversations with the residents and ask them about the different stages of their lives, the most memorable events, and the advice they would like to share with other people.”

Sara has spent the few moments of spare time she has as a PHD student with residents socializing and doing different workshops where she discusses the culture of her home country Jordan and teaches the art of origami, in which she is a master.

“I try to show the residents how to fold simple origami shapes,” Sara said. “Origami for me is really an important art since it helps me be a more patient and organized person.”

Sara’s time getting immersed at Chai Point has been a mutually beneficial experience in which she can share her story and talents with residents, and residents get to do the same.

As a Muslim woman, Sara has brought quite a unique and valuable presence to Chai Point.

“This is the first time we have a Muslim student living in our Jewish facility. That has been really enriching,” said Bonnie Jean Barczak, Chai Point Activities Director.

“Sara started with the goal of learning about Judaism, perhaps dispelling misinformation and stereotypes of the Muslim community, and to have her stereotypes and misinformation about Judaism corrected.”

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