Dowser is welcoming new writers/contributors; please send us a note at with a writing sample.

Q&A with #SummerImpact winner Sarah Press

   /   Aug 25th, 2010Education, News

Earlier this month we launched our #SummerImpact contest where we asked you, our faithful readers, to tweet what you’d be doing this summer to make a social impact. We got loads of amazing and diverse world-changing responses.  We selected five winners and we’re giving those folks an opportunity to share their stories here on Dowser.

@spressto: @dowserdotorg I helped neighbors share skills and connect w. over 80 free workshops through @communiteach and @learnapalooza #SummerImpact

Sarah Press, 24
Chicago, Illinois

Dowser: How did you get involved with this work?  Was there something specific that got you interested?
Press: My love for the staff at UNC-Chapel Hill, who helped me with my education, led me to create the Student Worker Alliance for Tutoring (SWAT), a student organization that provided free private tutoring for the children of UNC staff. The program succeeded not only in giving back to the staff members and their families, but also in enhancing community ties between staff and students.

While managing SWAT, I came to an important realization: The world isn’t divided into teachers and learners. Instead, everyone has both topics they want to learn and skills they can share with others. Thus, CommuniTeach was born.

Can you tell us a little about what this project does?
CommuniTeach is an online platform that creates vibrant learning communities by making it easy for neighbors, friends, and co-workers to learn from one another in person, for free. Our website matches users based on their skills and enables them to easily organize one-on-one and group learning sessions. CommuniTeach brings people together by giving them a way to easily share their talents, skills, and passions.

Learnapalooza was an all-day, free learning festival held on June 19 with 70 free workshops. CommuniTeach joined with a team of amazing volunteers to organize the event.

If I were a fly on the wall while you worked, what would I see you doing on a typical day?
This summer was very exciting for me as I had more time to focus on building CommuniTeach and organizing Learnapalooza. I worked on these two projects nearly every day after work and on the weekends. On a typical day, I would focus on three main tasks: sending emails out to encourage individuals to teach workshops, visiting prospective spaces to host the classes, and using various social media strategies to get the word out to the event. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

Has this experience changed how you’ll be approaching your future work, goals, or career path?
Hearing people’s excitement at learning new skills and connecting with neighbors they’d never met was so inspiring. I am now even more convinced that working in the community to encourage everyone to exchange skills with one another for free is my true passion. I look forward to a time when CommuniTeach is a fully-sustainable social enterprise and can be my full-time focus.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a similar experience?
If you have a vision for something – a show, a festival, a website, whatever – go for it. Be prepared for little sleep and lots of frustration. And be prepared to have to push when you get close to completion because a million things are going wrong and you want to just give up. Don’t give up, keep going. It’ll be worth it at the end – I promise. Even if it doesn’t ultimately work out, at least you learned something worthwhile in the process.

What’s something concrete and tangible you’ve learned this summer?
One of the Learnapalooza classes this summer was “Intro to Butchery.” I’ll be honest, I thought that class was going to be a total bust. It was going on the same time as classes I thought would take all the traffic: improv, meditation, capoeira, salsa-making, self-defense, and more.

But I was completely wrong. The butchery class was a huge success, completely filled with students who gave it fantastic ratings and loved learning how to chop things. This taught me that people have a variety of passions, and I can’t really predict them all!

Photo: Sarah Press

7 Responses

  1. test says:

    A person seriously be sure it can be show up in fact quick while using the latest display nevertheless My partner and i learn this particular make a difference to accumulate in fact a tremendously important varied that Individually i think I’d not necessarily recognize. It seems simply too sophisticated and extremely large for me privately. I’m using a glance forwards with the succeeding presented, I’m able to try to contain the embrace than it!

  2. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept Spotify Premium Code Generator

  3. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.

    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  4. Show recommendations are based on artists users ‘like’ on Facebook, actions
    they take in the calendar, affinity artists, and artists they’re listening to on Spotify. When you have an average speed for your Internet connection, choose a speed from the menu that is slightly slower than that speed. Find this week’s App Friday Party here, starting at 1:00 pm EST.

    Vimeo, virgin America, vera Bradley, vanguard and vine. The app exclusively sells tickets that
    stay on your phone and will allow you to enter Live Nation venues.

  5. I am extremely inspired with your writing talents as well as with the structure in your weblog. Is that this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Either way stay up the nice quality writing, it is rare to look a nice weblog like this one these days..

  6. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme
    in our community. Your website offered us with valuable
    information to work on. You’ve done a formidable job
    and our whole community will be thankful to you.

    Here is my homepageat yahoo password hacker

  7. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this website.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to get
    that “perfect balance” between superb usability and
    appearance. I must say you’ve done a superb job with this.

    Additionally, the blog loads very quick for me on Internet explorer.
    Excellent Blog!