By Jennifer Stone, UOD Board of Directors
Meet Matt Dahl: NSHS senior, graduate of Understanding Our Differences, and newest fan of David Ticchi, long-time UOD speaker for the Blindness Unit. When Matt received an assignment for his AP English class to write a profile of someone who represents a larger issue, he thought of Mr. Ticchi, who had spoken to Matt’s 3rd grade class at Countryside School for Understanding Our Differences. Matt visited Mr. Ticchi at work (Mr. Ticchi serves as special assistant to the president of Legal Seafoods and teaches at NNHS) and at home to get to know him, and then wrote a terrific piece (click here to read it).
“He’s a great guy,” Matt says. “He has a lot of integrity – he’s self-assured and isn’t afraid to ask for help.” Matt can see why Mr. Ticchi is such a good teacher. “He’s eager to connect with people” and trusting of others’ good will, even allowing Matt to open his mail and read it to him.
But what really struck Matt was Mr. Ticchi’s “total competence.” “He can do anything people do who live in Cambridge,” including giving precise driving directions.
Matt’s mom, Kathy Dahl, volunteered for Understanding Our Differences at Countryside. Matt has fond memories of the program, particularly the hands-on activities like the Brailler and adaptive tools such as hearing aides.
“I think UOD is a really important program” says Matt, because it instills values of curious understanding when kids are malleable. “It counters the prejudice that is born out of ignorance.” Matt credits his mom and Understanding Our Differences with helping to shape his own best self: open-minded, respectful and non-judgmental of others.
Matt’s project with Mr. Ticchi opened his eyes further to the unlimited potential of people with disabilities. “People with disabilities can accomplish anything. Mr. Ticchi is a teacher, and I couldn’t ever be a teacher.” Maybe not, but we think Matt can do a great deal!
We wish Matt the best as he looks forward to graduation, college and a future career that could include international affairs or computer science. We know that whatever he does, he will be his own best self: open to all and an articulate friend.