Theo’s Summer Service in Peru

This summer, I had the privilege and pleasure of traveling to Peru with a group called GLA. (Global Leadership Adventures). At GLA, the main goal is to provide a summer trip where teens can help others that are less fortunate in service projects which they feel passionate about. This summer, I helped a family on the outskirts of Cuzco, Peru in this little town called Chocco. Here, over the course of two weeks, I helped the family build a full house for their guinea pig or cuyo. Over these two weeks, I had some of the best experiences of my life. I met so many new people and developed relationships with the families I helped. A normal day of service looked like the following: Every morning we woke up at 6:30 am, starting service at 7:15 or 7:30. We then worked carrying adobe bricks and making mud for the foundation of the house. Making this house was very important because guinea pigs are most families only source of protein from a food source that is cheap enough to produce at a fast rate. During our service hours each day, we would have a mid-day break, where we got to play with little kids at a school nearby. We had daily soccer games, singalongs, rap battles, and played on the swings. After this, we went back to service for a few more hours of group work.

During my time in Chocco, how I view the world was totally reversed and changed. From the point I visited Peru, my view of my surroundings were clouded by the privilege I had automatically received since birth. These privileges are simple things such as water, food, clothes, a roof over my head and an education. When I left Peru, I became much more aware of how I could help people individually and make a difference just by the small things I did with my group.

 

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Chelsea’s Summer in Kenya

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Over the summer my family and I visited Kenya, where we met a woman named Bathsheba who told us her life story. She recounted the horrors she endured in her life to us. She made us aware of the sexual, physical and verbal abuse she went through in her life. She told us how she had been stalked because some people in her community believed her rich husband was still alive. They wanted to kill him and take his money. At one point the story became too much for her and she actually passed out on top of Phoebe. After we heard all of this, we decided we needed to do something for her.
Phoebe, our friends, and I decided to raise money for her to start her own business. Over the summer we did two bake sales, raising over $200 for Bathsheba to start her own hair-braiding company. We couldn’t just give her money directly because it would make her a target for the people who had hurt her and her family in the past. Refuge Point , a charity that helps refugees start their lives again, used our bake sale money to give Bathsheba a grant to use for her business. This experience affected the way I think about money and how much money is worth in different places. It is sometimes difficult to figure out the best way to help people, and this organization (Refuge Point) helped me understand how to do that.

Patrick’s Experience volunteering for the Clinton Campaign

This summer I volunteered at the Brooklyn Heights headquarters for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. As everyone is aware, while all elections are important, this is not your average election. There was no perfect candidate. But the only other viable candidate was Donald Trump, who needs no introduction. Furthermore, I had long entertained the idea of getting involved in the political process; the idea of participating in my democracy even if I was unable to vote had appealed to me for a while, and this was the mother of all democratic processes. Besides, I needed to o something over the summer, and I figured that I may as well do some good in the world.

Once I was approved to volunteer, myself and Nidhin Nishanth went to headquarters in Brooklyn Heights to phone bank. We called voters all across the country to spread the word about events, allay concerns about Hillary Clinton, help local campaigns spread the word, and generally get out the vote. With a television sitting in the corner of the phone banking room, we could see the latest developments, and even some campaign ads before they were released en masse. Between calls, I was able to talk with other Clinton supporters about politics, the world, and so on and so forth. I also got to talk on a few occasions with undecided voters and republicans who were shocked and disgusted by the antics of Donald Trump.

Overall, I had a good experience, and, given the chance, I think I would do this kind of service again.

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Tiffany’s Experience at the Fun&Friends Camp

This summer I volunteered as a camp counselor at the Fun and Friends Camp. This camp was dedicated to spreading cultural awareness to children of color. The story of how the camp was started was inspiring. The camp leader, Patrick Cox, has an adopted daughter named Isabella. He found that she was one of the only black children in her school and wanted to create a place where she could interact with other children whom were both physically and culturally alike; thus Fun and Friends was created. There were approximately 40 kids ranging from ages 5-12. It was incredibly fun watching over the kids, wether that meant playing with them or giving them a hug if they became homesick. I was designated to find videos for the voting period of the day, where the kids would watch a video and vote on their favorite one. They all seemed fascinated by children in their age range doing things as incredible as the kids in the videos. We also had a steel drummer, movie director, author and many other incredibly role models come and educate the children on their profession. It was an incredible three weeks working with lovely children and ultimately building a strong, loving community for people of color.

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MetoWe Kenya Service Trip, Esme Fairbairn

Words cannot begin to describe how kind, loving, grateful and humble Kenyans are.

I had been to Kenya before, but with my family in a very different setting. I was welcomed to the community of Enelerai in the Masai Mara with the ‘Jumbo’ song and immediately felt at ease and at home. For three weeks I became extraordinarily close with the community – the children who attend the primary and secondary schools, the mamas who bead and make congas to generate a source of alternate income whilst maintaining their households and walking miles multiple times every day just to collect water for their families, Masai warriors as well as those in my group also experiencing the amazing community.

We spent the three weeks digging five foot foundations for the dining hall of the new boy’s secondary boarding school (apart of the Jenga project) which will soon be completed. When we visited the Kisaruni Girl’s Secondary school, the girl’s passions truly showed as they spoke with us about their plans for the future, the dreams of becoming engineers, therapists and teachers. Building a school that would have the same impact on young men was truly rewarding.

We also visited and learned about the Baraka Health Clinic, stayed two nights in traditional Boma huts, living as many Kenyans do, shopped at a traditional roadside market, visited the local farm, learned swahili, warrior training and had multiple modules discussing the issues we saw in more depth. It feels uncanny to put these life changing things into list form: as words cannot describe the people I met, nor can they describe the experience I had.

I am forever grateful for the relationships that formed in Kenya and the experiences I will never be able to have again that came as a result of this trip. img_5644 img_5703 img_5732 img_5746 img_5798 img_6515 img_6644

Bookie’s Summer ’16 Service Opportunity

Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center Waiting Room

This summer I volunteered at the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. I was there for  4  weeks in total, volunteering Mondays and Tuesdays from 9-5 and Thursdays from 12-8. I have always been interested in psychology so any experience in the field really interests me. 

During my  days at the BCAC , I would offer my assistance to anyone who needed help, especially a CFS, a Clinical Forensic Specialist, because they were always on their feet working on multiple cases. A lot of the time I would supervise children and engage them in the play area. This gave me the opportunity to have more experience with little kids. In the office, I helped with scanning and filing charts electronically, which allowed me to improve on my organization skills.  I would also conduct research for the clinical forensic specialists’ team on organizations, their missions and contact persons. This also allowed me to improve on my research skills. I prepared data and outcome for expedited case reviews by arranging the information appropriate for management meeting. This let me have an “in” with the live cases to understand more about the line of work but always in a professional  manner so to keep all the information confidential. Lastly, I would often help organize therapeutic rooms to create a safe and friendly environment for clients during their weekly or monthly visits.

 

I really enjoyed my volunteer experience at the Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. The staff  help so many parents and children- the work they do is amazing.

Maeve’s Summer Service 2016

I spent this summer at Farm and Wilderness Summer Camps, located in Plymouth, Vermont, in a camp called Tamarack Farm. This is a quaker camp, where all campers are disconnected from all devices and must rely on their heads and hands to get them through the day. I spent 6 and a half weeks at Tamarack Farm and learned a lot about myself and what I can do for those around me.

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Our garden

Farm and Wilderness has 3 fully functioning, year-round farms. During the summer, campers are asked to help out with the farm and garden. Barn chores happened at 6:00 am and 4:00 pm every single day, 365 days out of the year. For 3 weeks, I went to barn chores every single day, often alternating between morning chores and afternoon chores. For the rest of the 6 weeks, I went as often as possible, which was usually every other day. Barn chores consisted of feeding and giving water to all the animals (we had 4 cows, 1 calf, 1 ram, 1 goat, over 15 sheep, over 30 chickens, 3 rabbits and one gigantic pig), milking the cows, walking the cows, collecting the eggs in the afternoon, brushing the rabbits, turning the compost and herding the sheep when they needed to be moved. Going into the summer, I had some experience working on a farm, but not very much. A few summers ago I attended another camp where working on the farm was optional, and I only went a handful of times. This summer I became very aware of how difficult it is to work on a farm for a long period of time. I understand that I only was asked to go for a few weeks, and people often do this for a living, and it made me much more appreciative of the food I have in my refrigerator. It was quite life-changing to create a relationship with an animal that was sent away to be slaughtered and then brought back to be eaten at the end of the summer. I found it much harder to eat the meat from a cow that I had fed and brushed and walked and it gave me a different view of the food that we eat everyday. Everyday after we finished taking care of the animals, we’d spend the remaining time in barn chores (which was usually are 1.5 hours) working in the garden. We pulled weeds, squished bugs and every tuesday and friday we harvested what was ready.

We often were fortunate enough to eat what was harvested, though sometimes a certain crop wouldn’t make it through the summer too well, for instance this summer our kale was demolished by bugs, which is one of the very few down sides on not using any chemicals on our plants to get rid of bugs. It was an amazing experience to be able to carry what we had grown 200 hundred feet to our kitchen where we’d cook it and serve it for dinner. A lot of effort was put into the garden and it was such a rewarding experience to see it grow so well and be able to enjoy it’s freshness. One very important thing we did this summer was one day we hiked up to a farm about 3 miles from camp, and we collected hay for our animals. It was an extraordinarily hot day and we hiked 3 miles up a mountain to the farm where we’d be collecting our hay. There was a large machine that would drive around and collect the hay and put it into bales, which we would then collect and put into piles so the trucks could come around and collect it to bring back to our farm. Because of the heat and because the bales were so heavy and very itchy when they touch your skin, no one was very happy about the job. However, everyone knew that it was incredibly important that we brought the hay back to the farm, so that our animals had food for the winter. We knew if we didn’t do it, no one would. So we spent the entire day baling 500 bales of hay, and then ran back down the mountain to put the hay into the hay loft, and it was an incredibly rewarding day.

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My friends and me carrying a bale of hay to our pile

This year, Mayor Christopher C. Louras of Rutland, Vermont, announced Rutland would be taking in 100 Syrian refugees at the end of the summer. Many people of Rutland were not pleased with this idea. They seem to believe that the refugees have no place in Vermont and that “To bring in 100 Syrians refugees is absolute lunacy,” according to Timothy Cook, a doctor at Rutland’s urgent care, in his interview with Chicago Tribute. So this summer, Farm and Wilderness wanted to make it clear that they are looking forward to Rutland taking in the refugees and are offering a welcoming community. Many campers, including myself, were on a mission to create welcome baskets for each Syrian family. We decided it would be nice to include vegetables and other produce from our farm and in addition, we decided to carve 100 spoons and spatulas out of the scrap wood we had at the farm. We realized that the project was a bit ambitious a little too late and only got to about 86 spoons and spatulas, but some of the staff promised to have the rest done before the refugees are set to come in September.

Racial Justice was a very big topic of discussion at Tamarack Farm. Every Thursday night we gathered together as a community and discussed social justice and what we as socially-conscious teens could do. Every counselor at this camp had some issue that was very important to them and were always open to discussing their involvement is social issues. One counselor in particular, Vida James, would often tell us her stories about her involvement with the fight for racial justice. By the end of the 2nd week, after 2 very emotional, eye-opening social justice nights, we as a community decided we wanted to do something to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. This was right after the death of 2 African American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We were able to watch the video that Castile’s girlfriend took during the aftermath of his death. We decided as a group that at the upcoming fair, where all of the Farm and Wilderness camps and the camper’s families would be in attendance, we would do a small performance. The day before, we created shirts for everyone that said “Black Lives Matter” and we learned songs that are often used in protests such as “I can’t breathe” and “We ain’t gonna stop till people are free”.  The day of the fair, we did our performance while wearing our shirts and after we stopped singing, we held up signs of the people of color who have been killed by police brutality. It was an extremely moving experience and it taught me that I can do so much more than what I am currently doing. I can make a difference and there are so many ways that I can do that.

This is us marching down to the fair wearing the 'Black Lives Matter' shirts, singing songs of protest, and carrying a banner that says 'We will not Rest'

This is us marching down to the fair wearing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts, singing songs of protest, and carrying a banner that says ‘We will not Rest’

Every day I learned something new and did something that I could be proud of, whether it be working on the farm, preparing food, clearing trails, making spoons, or having long discussions about racism and social injustices in our world. I am able to look back on my 6 and a half weeks at Farm and Wilderness and know that I am a different person now than I was before. I am so much more aware of my surrounds and the things I take for granted every day. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn this summer and I’m so excited to take what I learned and apply it to my life outside of camp.

Jackson’s Service Reflection 2016

This summer I was an Intern for Congresswoman Maloney’s office on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Congresswoman Maloney represents the 12th District of  New York, which entails Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. I actually learned that Friends Seminary is in Congresswoman Maloney’s district.

As an Intern, I had a variety of jobs/tasks I had to complete. I would work the phones, answering calls from constituents in the community, staff members from other congressional offices, or even the Congresswoman herself. When I was answering calls from constituents, I ended up developing a real sense of pride, because I was helping members of my community with their issues. I also would write letters back to constituents who had written in, in the voice of the Congresswoman. Since I had to research the topics that the constituents wrote in about, I learned a great deal about topics I would have never thought I would learn about.  I wrote letters about the banning of Shark Finning, the ending of the Yulin Dog Festival, Funding of Military Bands and a variety of random subjects.

I also worked on projects for the Congresswoman, mostly consisting of working of trying to pass the ERA, or Equal Rights Act. Since the Congresswoman is the sponsor of H.J.Res 52, or the Equal Rights Act, she was working her hardest to get members of congress- Republican and Democrat- to sign the bill. The Interns jobs were to call the offices of other members who had not signed, and try to find the correct staffer to talk to. We also were tasked with finding inequalities in men and women’s pricing and putting it in a spreadsheet for her. I was the only intern whom the Congresswoman brought aside and she told me that my work really impressed her.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience this summer, in which I learned what it was like to work in an office and also be able to help my community at the same time.

Bea’s Summer Service 2016

This summer I volunteered for three different organizations: East Hampton Public Library, Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue, and helped participate in Quilts for Pulse.

Every year I help volunteer at the libraries annual Children’s Book Fair.  This year I worked at different booths at the fair helping children chalk dye their hair as well as apply temporary tattoos. After the fair ended, I helped take down all of the furniture and clean up underneath the giant tent, since the fair is held outdoors.  I also volunteered at the library itself, helping to shelve books and organize the YA section of the library.

This summer I also volunteered for a couple of days at a horse rescue out on long island, that also housed pigs, goats, chickens, and rabbits for the first time. There I was one of the older volunteers so I had to help with harder jobs such as clearing trees out of paddocks, watering the trees, and refilling the dozens of fly traps around the property.  The farm houses more than 40 horses along with the other animals, although there are not many volunteers there to help out with the animals.

My friend, Miraya, and I also helped participate in the Modern Quilt Guild’s Quilts for Pulse Drive by designing and making a heart quilt for the survivors of the Orlando shooting.  Together over a series of days we designed and sewed together a full quilt top which will be given to someone in Orlando.

This year I definitely felt more involved in the community, both in the city and Long Island.  I felt I was given more responsibility at the places where I had volunteered before, as well as given a view into organizations that weren’t as popular and really needed more attention.  This summer really helped to expand my view and give me a better sense of understanding at the community.

GLA mission trip

This summer I traveled to Peru for two weeks to do service with a group called GLA. Our groups mission was to make Qui (guinea pig) houses for four different families living on the outskirts of a city called Cusco. These houses are very important to have because people without the resources to make them keep the guinea pig in their homes. This is very unsanitary and dangerous because it spreads disease. We would wake up at 6:30 every morning and drive into the small town of Chocco where the families lived. We would walk to the four different work sites with a group of about eight and start. These houses are made of adobe bricks and mud. We would carry all the bricks, around 300 of them at each site, over to where we were building and start assembling them with mud. We pick axes the dirt,  sifted it and then added water to make the mud. This project took two weeks and it was a large structure with two stories. In our breaks between work period we would visit the local school and play soccer and volleyball with the kids. We built strong relationships with them even though not all of us spoke Spanish. It was amazing how we could get along and learn about each other without even knowing how to talk to one another. We would sing songs like, Hips don’t lie or sorry by Justin Bieber. Each kid was so kind and welcoming to our whole group. Aside from the Qui houses we also would travel around Peru to do different adventure aspects and one of the days we visited an orphanage. This was a very enlightening experience because we got to meet some older girls. One of the girls was sixteen and talked to us about her school work and how she was planning on getting a job. To see her so determined about her life even though she grew up without her family was so amazing and she was such  a mentor to the younger kids. The whole experience was so incredible and I took home new knowledge about privilege and the fact that although some of the people we worked with didn’t have very much they were happy and loved each and were proud of the work that they did and of their families. I can’t wait to return to Peru one day and I hope that my experience on this trip will carry over to my service work at school and in New York.

 

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— By Bianca Howell