Students for a Better World: The Beyond the Classroom Blog

Stories, Resources, & More from the Beyond the Classroom (BTC) Program at University of Maryland

“For Once In My Life” Illustrates That Life Has No Boundaries

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By Rebecca Marchwinski, BTC Student

On May 6, Beyond the Classroom showed the film “For Once in My Life” accompanied by the Director of Mission Strategy from Goodwill Industries, Inc. as part of BTC’s People Power: Activism for Social Change course and film series.The film followed a group of people that work as part of Goodwill’s training program and are also members of the Spirit of Goodwill Band. Each member of the band happens to also have a disability,whether physical or mental. The documentary followed the band as they prepared for a grand performance in front of a thousand people and simultaneously delved into the pasts of some of themembers. Before and after the film, Goodwill’s Director of Mission Strategy Brad Turner-Little described some ofthe missions and goals of Goodwill and reactions of the film.

Brad Turner-Little

The movie was extremely surprising and impactful. Each one of these people worked so hard in the Goodwill factory and then practiced constantly to become proficient at their designated instrument.They got so much joy out of being a part of this group and often their behavior and attitudes changed after joining. It was amazing how passionate they were about music and how therapeutic it seemed to be. The music director was another major part of the movie and his patience and dedication were really inspiring. The fact that this was not his full time job and that he often went to another job after rehearsals just showed how selfless people can be.

Before the movie started, Brad told us to look out for a trend regarding male figures in the movie. As each person’s family life developed, it was obvious that most of the people in the movie did not have a strong father figure. Whether the father was never present or he left when the situationbecame too hard, the mother or another strong matriarchal figure was almost always the responsible one. This shed light onto the support system that often accompanies people with disabilities. While one member of their family was abandoning them, doctors were often telling the families that these individuals would never develop mentally past infancy and should be put in a home. When the diagnosis looked bleak, the community surrounding these people often turned away from them instead of turning in for support.

The main message from this movie is that anything is possible. These people were told that they would never develop past a certain point, that they would never be able to speak or walk, and that they would never be able to do anything noteworthy. Every single one of them proved that notion wrong. They showed that they could do extraordinary things in spite of their disabilities and that they should not be underestimated. The most powerful moment for me was at the very end when the band was playing in their big performance; when listening to them play, you would never know that they were different from anyone else.
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Edited by Dr. Caitlin Haugen, Adjunct Instructor, Beyond the Classroom
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Author: btcblogger

Beyond the Classroom (BTC) engages talented and diverse upper level undergraduates from across the university in a selective interdisciplinary living and learning community focused on civic engagement and social change in a global context. The BTC program prepares students to be active and responsible citizens and leaders in a complex, multi-cultural, and global society. We encourage students from all disciplines and majors to realize and develop their potential through an integrated program of academic, experiential, and service components. The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the world’s largest nonprofit and nongovernmental sector, becomes a place of learning through exciting internships and civic learning experiences.

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