Updated: Nov 11, 2022
My name is Francesca Barucci, and I started blogging for Kikori in February 2022. I had heard a lot about their successes in the past year or so, through my close friend and Kikori’s Chief Marketing Officer, Haley Burns. It's safe to say I was always interested in what Kikori was up to, because I loved their mission and app as a whole.
Even with my little experience in the education field; being a student teacher a couple times, and a camp counselor for a couple years; I could see how perfectly it could be applied to a student's everyday life. Having just graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2020, it’s nice to see Kikori’s refreshing take on education and group facilitation, and the ways they are pioneering the incorporation of social-emotional learning in schools. When first looking through the app, I loved the promotion of awareness of self and others all wrapped up with a positive outlook that is effortlessly infused into the activities. So when the opportunity arose for me to start blogging for them, I needed experience writing for a cause, and to build my resume creatively so it seemed like a perfect fit.
So, Who am I?
The age-old, and often dreaded question; who am I? Seemingly impossible to answer as a 23 year
old, you can imagine the DAYS of mulling this question over in my mind whilst procrastinating writing it at all. In terms of who I am as a person, it would be a cop-out to tell you that I graduated from college with a bachelors in Biochemistry, and have been working since as a laboratory technician at a clinical genetics laboratory in Stamford, CT; because that's slowly losing its significance in describing who I am as a person, instead I will try my best to tell you who I am in relation to Kikori and how my path led me here, to blog for you!
Like all of us, I am the sum of my many parts. I am the sum of what I’ve learned in each phase, minus the parts of me I had to leave behind, and plus the new experiences that add to who I am everyday. Like chapters of a book, I have taken a summary from each and wrapped it all up into who I am. There are many faces I’ve worn in my life, and wear in my everyday life. In writing this, I often thought about all the different people I am, that are within me.
Part 1: I am a Kid At Heart
First part of why I am here; because I love children. Their entire essence is inspiring to me, and I find myself channeling that in my everyday life quite frequently. In what ways you may ask?; in the way I dress, in my curious nature, in my honesty (sometimes brutally honest), my ambition, and my propensity to care about others. I also see children often having a strong resilience about them, their ability to transmute pain and suffering into love… it's kind of magical. We all could use some of that!
While studying Biochemistry at the University of New Hampshire, I nannied and babysat to pay for groceries and gas for my car, but also because I loved children and always got along well with them. Nannying was the key to me experiencing the beauty of New Hampshire as a whole. These kids were worlds away from the ones I had worked with as a counselor in Connecticut, and everyday I’d be sitting there, watching them and thinking to myself why that was.
From past times working with children, mitigating their cell phone usage became such a huge part of the job, that it compromised some of the counselor-camper relationships. But when I was nannying for kids in New Hampshire, I didn’t really have to…. do anything, but enjoy the outdoors with them. Maybe I got lucky with the family, but it was my job to promote my children’s imagination, by taking them outside and genuinely being there with them. Truly cathartic for a 21 year old college student. I mean, a 9 year old taught me to skateboard! This special connection I made with them, I want to believe, is attributed to the connection to nature that New Hampshire allowed us to have. I was their friend, as much as I was their caretaker. And that part of being young, that I could never quite put my finger on, that I hadn’t felt in years, was re-emerging in me. They were not my children, but I loved them as such; and I’d like to believe they taught me something about my own life, in the short time I got to know them.
Part 2: I am a Writer
Writing came into my life at a perfect time, and completely in vain. At age 13, I spotted the most beautiful, pink, blue and green paisley diary in the entire world at CVS. This was the start of the only thing in my life that I have actually done consistently for years. I am now on my 7th or 8th diary since freshman year of high school, and as much as it's been a source of emotional understanding for me, it has evolved into my art form. A space to work things out, but with intention.
It has become so easy to live our lives on autopilot, and it's not entirely our fault; the world has been slowly catered for us to do so. I would argue almost everything we do, is provided with the option to be entertained while doing so. Similar but not exclusive to, your coworkers being engrossed in their phones in the lunchroom, or Tesla making it possible for your car to drive itself so you can tune it all out on the way to work. It's this disease that's gotten worse and worse over the years, and one of the reasons I love Kikori is because they have been able to work intention back into activities for students.
What would writing be without thinking? With writing, you have to be present with what you’re saying. The entertainment mechanisms aren’t going to last, and will cause bigger issues in their adult life. In my most recent blogs, including this one, I have included thinking prompts for students, as well as writing activities to share. The ability to live presently, take in information, reflect, think about it for a little, and write about it? These sorts of skills are priceless. And Kikori is providing just that for the youth of today.
Chapter 3: I am a Scientist
I will now do my best to claim why hard science and the beauty of writing are connected. It all comes down to one, simple thing, observation.
Starting from the fundamentals of ‘The Scientific Method’ that we learn as 6 year olds, all the way through obtaining a bachelors in Biochemistry, observation is at the root of the whole process. It starts with what we see in the world around us, which slowly after background research rolls into a hypothesis on how to fix it or make it better.
Where does the idea of presence come in? Well that’s the thing, I never thought about the connection between my scientific mind, and my more artistic side.. until right now! Writing is an artform, and I think all art requires some level of awareness of the world around you. That’s why authors write movies, plays and poems strung with deep, underlying themes about current society. That’s why art has evolved. Life imitates art, and art imitates life. It’s a beautiful thing. I think you can see where I am going with this.
My awareness of the world around me has given me the inclination to want to investigate; someway, somehow. Growing up in this world, science is something we see as reputable. A stable job, people saving the world, people becoming doctors, all great stuff. Writing in all forms and the awareness it brings, I would argue, is as visceral and important to our society as scientists doing field research and forming ideas on them.
Philosophers and scientists; It all started with presence and observation, and what you do with this information depends on how comfortable you are with the gray areas in between it all. I love Kikori App because it bridges the gap that school curriculum has when it comes to being present, reflective, and understanding those gray areas. The left brain and the right brain are not meant to be pitted against each other, they can undoubtedly dance in harmony, because they do within me. Is it selfish to want this sort of unity in all of us?
So I guess when asked this question, ‘who am I?” I could’ve said SO many things, but I wanted to express the reason I am here, using the steps that brought me here. In a way it is like chemistry, a long formula that brought me all the way here, A + B→ C.
Possible Thinking Prompts for Students:
What different ‘faces’ do you wear in your everyday life?
Would you argue some are who you are, and some are not? Or rather they are all a part of who you are as a whole?