On service day this year the senior class listened to presentations given by ninth graders at Friends for the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. The students delivered their presentations with enthusiasm and were very knowledgeable about the nonprofits they represented. They were articulate and thoughtful when answering questions at the end. I enjoyed learning about the different social issues addressed by the organizations. Overall, it was a great experience.
On April 7th, I went to the 11th Street Community Garden to learn more about where Friends’ compost goes and help with general garden maintenance. When I got to the garden, there were lots of Friends students already there, some were sorting wood-chips, some putting together a new shed, and other putting together a bench with a trellis. I started out by helping to even out a layer of sand where the new shed would go so that it had a sturdy foundation. After we had added enough sand and gotten it fairly level, we began to lay down bricks of different sizes, making sure they all were level and straight. It was nice to be able to spend time outside on a beautiful day, while also helping the community. I als0 live near the garden, so I was glad to be able to contribute to a space that would make my neighborhood greener and more pleasant to live in. Because of the lack of greenery in New York City, it is important to support local urban gardens. It not only betters the city but is also a great way to give back to the community while spending time outside.
Throughout my time working with The Dream.Us I have become more aware of how lucky I am to have a great education. It is a privilege not everyone has access to and is especially hard for undocumented immigrants to get. I am determined to keep working with my program and others like it to help everyone have access to education.
The most challenging part of this project was being able to connect with the audience in such a way where they were able to understand how important the Dream.Us is. However, the most rewarding part of this project was the comments my peers gave me afterward telling me that I did, evidently, interest them enough where they are willing to help immigrants get an education.
This year I volunteered at the Friends Seminary auction as a student docent. This was a positive experience for me because I was able to incorporate my interest in Art History and Curation into my service requirement for the 2017-2018 school year. I was responsible for explaining the works of Rashid Johnson. Prior to the preview and auction, I researched his work and his career. I was most fascinated by his Anxious Men series. A lot of Rashid’s work is centered around the experience of African Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement. I felt very fortunate to examine his work and participate in the Friends Seminary Auction this year.
This year I gave tours to prospective students as part of the admissions office team. I had always seen students giving tours around school, and thought I could be good at it. I was so thrilled when I was asked to give tours in the beginning of this year. I had such a good time showing families around the school, and I think that hearing from a current student was really helpful for them. It was a fun way to give back to my community, and talking to prospective students about Friends made me remember why/how much I loved it in the first place.
In the beginning of the year, I helped out during both the new student and the 9th grade orientations. It was the first year I had helped out for one of these orientations, and as a senior, it was touching to be able to impart some wisdom to the freshmen and help them the way seniors helped me when I was a freshman.
I never at first ever thought about the challenges that one faced when living among a majority of people who speak a different language. It was always something on my mind, but through this experience I was able to imagine it if I was truly in these shoes. Through the YPI experience I could really feel the weight that many immigrants face everyday, that is only a mere thought to ourselves.
Through the interview process I wanted to be as articulate as I could. Sometimes I try to get my question out as fast as I can, but I took a few seconds extra and tried to fully draft a better question. The more clarity in a question, the more clarity in an answer. The more clarity in an answer, the better presentation you can make!
How might you remain engaged with your social issue or non-profit organization?
I am going to keep donating clothes to the clothing drive this week and am going to continue to get interested parties to get involved with the program. I will also continue to spread GEMS’s mission and do whatever I can to help the girls.
In what ways has your attitude toward your social issue changed over the course of the project?
I never imagined to the extent these girls were hurt. I’ve heard stories of sex trafficking but never really heard the details. My attitude changed towards my social issue because as I heard of what these girls face every day I wanted people to know that stuff like this is happening, and is happening to people our age. I wish for people to have conversations about the topic so that we might be the generation that eradicates the sex trafficking industry.
Over the course of the project I have grown more passionate about my social issue as I learned more about it. The Youth Philanthropy Initiative has given me the opportunity to learn in depth about the homeless immigrant crisis in NYC, and as a result inspired me to be try and make a difference in my own community.
In the future, I hope to get involved with organizations similar to the one my group chose that advocates for important social issues including homelessness. I would like to become a volunteer and donor and to actively support the social justice issues that I feel passionately about.
The most challenging part of this project was being able to complete our presentation beacause our organization because our first organization refused to meet with us. After doing all the research for that organization we had to find a new one and that made us fall behind a bit.
The most rewarding part was that after choosing the new organization we realized that it was a much better fit and met all of our interests.
I did not find this project a meaningful connection to our course curriculum but I did enjoy learning and doing something to help a social issue that I was passionate about.