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Impact Fellowship Blog

What Does Impact Mean to Me? Sophia Johnson

“Impact” means to create a long lasting effect towards a person or thing. Though the term is not implicitly positive or negative, people generally strive to have positive impacts on the world around them, not negative. Actions that come with impacts can be of ranging sizes and appearances-- words, gifts, teachings, etc; almost anything can impact a person. Impact happens when someone/something is deeply affected by another someone/something, and often (but not always) results in a life changing or altering feeling, idea, perspective, or event. 

My drama teacher, Jill Jacobs, has impacted me greatly. Going into high school, I was extremely scared. I had ended a lot of my middle school friendships and was still trying to find where I belonged, and had recently started listening to popular musicals. After seeing my first show (Hamilton on tour in San Francisco) a girl in drama club reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in joining drama club at my new high school. I said sure, and then got scared and never showed up to the meetings. Around Halloween, though, one of my volleyball teammates told me I should come to a club meeting with her, which turned out to be for drama club. I sat towards the back of the room and listened as the drama teacher recited the schedule of the meeting and then walked back to her desk to let the students speak. They spoke about a haunted house they were doing, and since I used to do special effects makeup, I volunteered to help. Ms. Jacobs came over to me and asked if I could do old age makeup, and when I said yes, she told me to join her after school at rehearsal for The Crucible, where she wanted someone on makeup duty for all the actors cast as old people. Since then, Jill has been an instrumental person in my life, helping me grow as a human, performer, stagehand, and student. She has taken me (along with our class and/or casts) to see shows in San Francisco, she has casted me in our school musical, she allowed me to try out almost every job possible backstage (makeup, hair, lighting, props, assistant directing, directors assistant, etc), and has taught me what it means to be involved in the world of theatre, even if only being on such a small scale as a high school theatre department. She definitely knows the impact she has had on me, and it is really hard not to. I joined the theatre department shy, unknowledgable, and afraid, and have emerged (mostly) outgoing, well-versed in theatre, and though I’m still afraid of taking risks, I am much more able to harness those emotions and use them to help me through my risk taking. I have gained a greater sense of confidence in myself and my abilities to perform and work in high stress environments. I have grown my love for all types of theatre and acting. I have learned how to take criticism, rejection, and feedback and use it to grow. I have become a stronegr human, a better team player, and a more open individual under her guidance. She has impacted me in so many ways, and I do believe she knows it. 

Another person who has impacted me individually, but also people on a large scale, would be my Rabbi, Rabbi Mates-Muchin. She is the first Chinese-American Rabbi, and has been my Rabbi at Temple Sinai in Oakland since I started religious school. As I have gotten older and had the chance to appreciate her sermons and teachings, as well as have her as my own teacher for confirmation, I have gained a respect for her that goes beyond simply being kind and acknowledging her place at my synagogue. My increasing interest in the more religious aspects of Judaism allow me to have deeper conversations regarding my religious aspirtations and goals, and my involvement in Jewish learning has also granted me the ability to speak with her on topics I hadn’t yet before. I have learned a lot from her through hearing her sermons, lessons, and personal discussions, but I also know that I am only one person in the entire congregation, and that she has had a huge affect on the greater Jewish community at my synagogue, and around the world as the first Chinese-American Rabbi. Her impact on the broader and smaller Jewish community does not go unnoticed. I don’t know if she knows about the impact she has had on me and my “Jewish journey” (as she likes to call it) because our time is not spent discussing it, but it is definitely something I could tell her. I do think she knows about the larger impact she has had on the Jewish community as a whole though, but again, I have nver spoken to her about it.