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.

YPI Project

for the YPI project, my group chose to work with the topic of female homelessness. We worked with the the organization the Coalition for the Homeless. Prior to completing out project I was excited to work with female homelessness because of the lives that it effects. After doing the project, even though we didn’t win, I am happy to have learned more about the problem and to meet the charity we met with. My talking on the phone skills as well as leaving messages skills improved greatly. Before the project when I talked on the phone with strangers I felt nervous about speaking. During the project because I knew what to talk about, I was able to communicate effectively with the the person on the other end of the phone.the most challenging part of the project for me was setting up a time to meet with our charity. Getting them to finally respond to us was a struggle, but it felt so good when we finally met and talked with them because they helped us better understand the problem and how they are trying to combat it. After realizing that the charity aspect of a community is a great one, I found that this project does have a great deal to do with our course curriculum. It teaches us that helping others is important to keep order in a society.

Chelsea’s Summer Service Reflection

Over the summer I worked at an animal shelter called Bideawee in West Hampton. The experience was amazing. I got to work with cats and dogs. I got to help clean and organize all of the miscellaneous items around the shelter. Another one of my responsibilities was socializing the cats and dogs. I loved this! I would play with them for hours. I would get to learn their personalities. It was a lot of fun.

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One of my favorite parts was getting to see the new animals come in, then returning to find that they were gone because they had been adopted. I loved seeing the animals getting adopted as it made me so happy to know they were going to a good home. Bideawee does extensive research into who can adopt from them.   You know that when a cat or dog is adopted at Bideawee it is going to a good home. When I go back next year I hope all of the animals will be adopted.

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The one thing that stood out to me most was a cat named Matilda who had a feline affliction. I’m not sure what it is called, but it is caused from abandonment at a young age which causes problems in the brain, such as severe balance problems. Every time I walked past her room she would meow at me in a nice way, kind of saying, “Come play with me.” So every day I worked there I spent about an hour or more playing with her and helping her eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. It really made an impact on how I view cats now. Before I met Matilda, I thought all cats had great lives, just sleeping and eating. Now I know that not all cats are as fortunate as others. Next year I hope I will see Matilda again and that I will be able to have the same rewarding experience I did this time.

Michael’s service reflection

Since January, every Tuesday I have taught an after school taekwondo class from 4:30 to 5:15 to a group of kids aged 8 and up at P.S 84. This was a very interesting experience for me. Previously, I have helped teach taekwondo at my dojang, and I even helped teach this same class last year, but I was mainly helping out my friend who had organized the class before I began helping out. This time, even though my younger brother, Patrick, helped me for the first several weeks, I was essentially the only one in charge, which was both enlightening and frusturating.

The biggest impression that this whole experience gave me was that it is very hard to teach anything to a group of young children, especially if they don’t really want to listen. I see now why elementary school teachers deserve so much respect. I did of course learn more about the actual teaching aspect of teaching taekwondo as opposed to just the managing of small children. One of the biggest problems that I encountered was getting my students to listen to me and actually pay attention to what I was trying to teach them. This was mainly because I had several students who were very disruptive, and who really did not appear to want to be in my class. I eventually had to kick out most of those students because I could not get the other students, who actually wanted to learn, to pay attention around them.

I also learned the value of patience in teaching. Since I am a black belt, and I spend most of my time when I am practicing taekwondo around adults, many of which are black belts, I often forget how hard it can be to learn good form for kicks, especially if you are a young child and not particularly athletic. When I first began teaching my students kicks, some of them seemed to understand whant I wanted them to do instantly, but others had far more trouble, and I originally would try to have each student who was having trouble understand what I meant before I would have the next one come up to kick the pads. This proved innefective, and slow. Eventually, I learned to correct each student’s form itteratively, focuusing on a single aspect of their kick each time they came up to kick.

Not everything that I learned had to do with teaching, however. One of the most striking aspects of teaching this class was actually how poorly organized public schools are. It routinely took 15 minutes or more for the school to get the children to my class after I had set up the matts, and informed the school that I needed them to bring my students to class so that I could teach them.  In addition, I asked every week for a class roster, both so I could learn everybody’s name and so that I could keep track of who was there for class each week, but I never got one, which was very frusturating.  Similarly, the school did not actually have a room for me to hold class in, since the gym was in use. As a result, both years I have taught this class, I have had to teach in the hallway, which does not create an environment in which children are likely to pay attention. These two things by them selves are not actually much of a problem, however my class was not in truth a very hard thing to organize, and it was still not very well organized. In addition, from what I could tell, this was one of the better public schools in the city, which says a lot about the state of our city’s public schools overall.

Overall, I am very glad that I decided to teach taekwondo this spring, since it has been very educational for me. However, I am now also angry that our city’s public schools are so poorly organized.

Jessica’s Service Reflection

On service day, part of the senior class had the opportunity to work with the organization Afya, which sends medical supplies which would have been disposed of here in the United States, to other countries where they are needed. It was great to hear how the organization really targets the type of medical equiptment that is needed in each location, so that they aren’t sending tons of medical supplies that might be more useful in an other country, and so that people can understand how the needs of those different places are different.

Cyrus Glanzer’s Service Reflection

As I get ready to matriculate from friends the long list of ‘last time i do ____’ gets longer and longer and as I go through that list I also notice some of the habits and traditions i ave made around service and serving also falling into my list of ‘lasts.’ Every year on thanksgiving throughout high school my family has volunteered for the Bowery mission soup kitchen, cooking and serving traditional thanksgiving treats for hundreds and thousands of individuals and families as part of the Bowery Mission’s biggest event each year. While leaving friends in and of itself does not stop me from continuing this tradition, that I am leaving this city and home very much does affect that opportunity for family bonding in the form of service. I am going to miss specifically these habitual service experiences, the ones that weren’t about logging service hours or rushing to fulfill a requirement at the end of May. And per the mission of the service department I have attributed value and consistency to my service activities beyond what is simply asked of me. The service program has been a true success in my case in developing a somewhat socially conscious student, if not always for the benefit of others than at least for the benefit of myself.

Liv’s Service Reflection

For two weeks this summer I volunteered at the day camp, Camp Rhythmo, in Lower Manhattan. This program teaches kids, ages 6-11, about nutrition, fitness, science, music, and art; not coincidently, these are the topics most frequently cut from public school education. Camp Rhythmo strives to make sure children have the opportunity to learn and create and be active. Throughout the program kids take part in a wide range of projects such as designing their own molecules, learning to play hand chimes, singing, and participating in dance and yoga classes. In addition, Camp Rhythmo emphasizes the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and every day the kids had ample time to run around and were taught exercises like push-ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks. The kids also learned about what makes a nutritious meal and the value of eating healthy. At the end of the program the kids have a performance where they showcase all they have learned.

As a volunteer at Camp Rhythmo my job consisted of setting up and supervising activities, writing the daily blog, and interacting with the children. I loved getting to know the kids and admired the zeal they brought to each new activity. In addition, it was impressive to see how much the kids learned in such a short period of time. I couldn’t believe that 5-11 year olds were learning about adenosine triphosphate, even if it was on a very basic level. Camp Rhythmo taught me about what it means to be a role model. I wasn’t used to others depend on me so heavily but I found it to be an incredibly fulfilling experience. Many of the younger kids needed help in almost every task: tying shoes, spelling words, even gluing pom-poms on a piece of paper. By helping the kids in even the smallest ways, I learned a valuable lesson in the importance of patience and attentiveness. Additionally, sometimes the kids would quarrel and it was my job to act as mediator. I found that by instructing the kids to clearly express their opinions and emotions I strengthened my own communication skills.

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Jessica Huang Service Reflection

On service day this year, my advisory went to St. John’s Bread and Life, a community center in Bed-Stuy. Some of us worked in the pantry and the rest worked in the kitchen preparing lunch. I worked in the kitchen peeling and chopping carrots as well as preparing chicken. The regular volunteers emphasized the importance of maximizing the amount of food that we had. We had to peel the skin off the carrots, but not cut so deeply that usuable parts of the carrots were wasted. I thought the experience was extremely valuable and not only exposed us to the effects of poverty that affect so many people, especially in New York City, but also because the experience really showed me how privileged we are and how we take for granted things we see as necessities and basic parts of life, such as food,  but which, are in reality, not available to everyone. Every bit of food that was available to the community center was put to use. Whatever wasn’t made into lunch or saved for later meals was gathered and put into a compost bin to grow more food that could be used to feed those who depended on the community center for their meals.

Jessica Huang Summer of Service Reflection

A+ Academy is a preparatory school in Brooklyn dedicated to helping children from the ages of 7 to 16 who struggle academically, especially in terms of test-taking. Volunteers sometimes do office work and speak to parents about their children’s progress, but most of the time, we were grading tests and homework, overseeing detention, and tutoring kids who were having more trouble in their classes. Over the summer of 2013 and throughout this school year, I volunteered at one of the three branches of A+ Academy. I was responsible for tutoring many younger children, most of them 7 to 9, who were struggling with math and reading in their classes. I did not have much experience working with younger children, who I found, for some reason, were difficult to bribe with sweets and stickers. I definitely gained a lot from my experience as a volunteer at A+. I had to learn to be gentle and very, very patient with the younger children, which was nearly impossible for me to do, and I learned that teaching students of any age is hard because not everyone responds to the same teaching methods or explanations. Sometimes more creative or visual methods are necessary for those who have not yet learned to take in information taught the traditional way. Up until I was 11, I was also sent to similar summer and saturday schools to reinforce my basic reading and arithmetic skills, but this experience allowed me to work on the other side, teaching kids instead of being taught. I could see that some kids who were 12 or 13 really resented their parents for forcing them to go to summer school or prep on the weekends during the year and I remember feeling the same way the last few years I was forced to go, but prep really did help me not really in terms of academics, but with organization and discipline.

Catherine’s Service Reflection

For some of my service hours this year, I ran in and organized the FS team for the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure in early September (http://www.komennyc.org/). It has been a tradition for the Varsity Women’s soccer team to run in this race every year because it falls just before the start of our season and is a great bonding experience. I was happy to carry on the tradition of entering a team into the race and to be involved with such an incredible event. The Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure is one of the biggest charity walks/runs in the world and raises a considerable amount of money for cancer research and for outreach and support programs. One of the best parts of running in this race was seeing just how many people cared about the cause and wanted to help out. It was touching both to see people running in support of family members or friends who suffered from breast cancer and to see people running just to support the charity as a whole. I will definitely run in the race again next year!