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ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:

Ommie: Recognizing Our Common Humanity

Sasha Marchenko

Founder and UX Designer at Ommie – California, USA



Who did your Capstone Project serve ?
My Capstone Project, Ommie, is an experiential social platform for people dealing with the aftermath of a seismic life event (e.g. loss of a loved one, terminal illness diagnosis, accident, assault, etc.). It serves people who are on a path of learning, reflecting and rediscovering themselves. 

What was the suffering that your project addressed?
Ommie invites people to lean into suffering and recognize opportunities for growth. When our normal lives are unexpectedly torn apart, we go through a prolonged period trying to find a solid ground whilst dealing with a myriad of negative emotions such as grief, shame, guilt, unworthiness, fear, etc. We often lack hope. We feel broken and alone. We feel like nobody can relate. I wanted to address these challenges.

How did this project address that suffering?

Ommie experience is based on the following practices and components. 
1) Deliberate reflection & expressive writing about personal trauma, stress or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in physical and psychological health. 2) Mindfulness & emotional connection. Upon reading a story, participants are invited to take a moment to reflect and process a big feeling. Throughout this moment, they press-and-hold a button on the screen (“augmented touch”) that continuously folds virtual origamis that are sent to the writer. 3) Community & purpose. When someone new encounters adversity, they can learn insights and find hope from someone who has gone through the same. 

Who was your audience and how many people participated? 
I piloted the app with three groups — personal contacts, bereaved parents, and aspiring writers. There are over 100 participants from 24 countries and they have contributed close to 50 stories.

How was the project delivered (the format)? 
The project was delivered as a mobile app (which I started designing and developing before joining ACT).

What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself? 
The feedback from participants was truly heart-warming and encouraging. People who have shared a story saw a lot of value and meaning in writing. Many described their writing experience as “cathartic”, “intimidating" and "liberating."

How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion? 
ACT’s immersive retreats and practices provided me with the skills to lean in and out of my own suffering, allowing me to hold space for others. I honed my facilitation skills and have started to host mindfulness workshops and restorative yoga sessions for people who have recently experienced trauma.

What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program? 
Whole-heartedly go for it! ACT’s mentors and peers create a very supportive and empowering space to nurture ideas and bring them to life. I hope you join.



Be the change!

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