Meet Jesse

Annie KennedyInside WITS

Jesse Altman

Jesse Altman is one of WITS’ newest program coordinators and began working with the organization in the Summer of 2019. Read on to learn more about Jesse, the experience that he brings to WITS, and why The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series would make a great TV show.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Jesse, and I’m 25 years old. I was born in the north suburbs of the Chicagoland area and have enjoyed reading since I was a little kid. I grew up with one younger brother and spent most of my childhood playing percussion in band, hanging out with my friends, and going to sleep-away camp in Wisconsin.

I speak Spanish, Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, and some French (I really like languages). I graduated from Tufts University in Boston with a degree in International Relations and Economics and a desire to better the world! As a result of that desire and my strong interest in foreign languages and traveling, I joined the Peace Corps and spent the last 2+ years living in a small community in the mid-Atlas Mountains of Morocco. While there, I had a chance to work in my community’s youth center and schools doing a variety of youth programming and developing meaningful relationships, some of which I still maintain today. I am excited to be back in Chicago now and to learn more about and enjoy the city as much as possible.

What was the best book you had to read in school?

Hands down the best book I had to read in school was The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. His writing is so descriptive and captivating, and the mysteries surrounding the characters and plot just made you want to keep reading more.

What books series would you like to see turned into a TV show?

I would love to see the entire The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series turned into a TV show! I loved reading these books and think that with the crazy CGI technology and amazing actors around today, this could be a really fun, entertaining series.

What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with no preparation?

Morocco. After living in Morocco for 27 months, I feel like I could probably go on and on talking about the people, culture, food, geography, language, transportation, etc. for hours.

Tell us about your favorite teacher.

My favorite teacher is definitely my high school band director, Dr. Brame. I spent all of high school playing percussion for Dr. Brame in the wind ensemble, marching band, and jazz band and was even a senior advisor for the freshman band advisory. He was the most dedicated teacher I think I have ever had and was interested not only in his students becoming good musicians, but also in becoming good students and good all-around people. He instilled a love of music in me and my friends that has lasted long after graduating. I learned so many life lessons from him and grew so much as an individual because of his mentorship, and I will be forever grateful to him for that.

What song always puts you in a good mood?

“Take a Walk” by Passion Pit always puts me in a good mood. My first summer as a counselor at the summer camp I went to (as both a camper and counselor), I was co-counselors in a tent with my friend, Joe, for rising seventh graders. Every morning, Joe and I would wake the kids up with this song, and we would start the day off on a good note. Whenever I hear this song, I’m reminded of that summer and can’t help but smile.

In the spirit of Twitter Fiction, write a story in 140 characters. The character limit may have recently increased to 280, but we’ll keep it to the original limit here.

He travels the world searching for answers. What is love? Life’s meaning? Poutine? Too many questions. He can’t stop searching. On he goes.