This past August, the boys and girls varsity soccer teams went on a weeklong trip to Tobago. While both teams were continuing preseason training during that week, the trip’s other main component was service. We held a soccer clinic for the youth, attracting kids from 5 to 17 years old. In addition to coaching, we donated cleats, jerseys, balls, shin guards, and water bottles when the session was over. This was definitely the most memorable part of the trip.
This summer the boys & girls varsity soccer teams went down to Trinidad and Tobago. We participated in a tournament, traveled around the island and ran a clinic for underprivileged kids on the island. On the last day we woke up early and set off for Mount Pleasant on the island of Tobago. When we got there we unloaded the eight duffle bags of equipment, cleats and clothing for the kids. We set up drills and activities for the kids to participate in. Around 9:00am a flurry of kids rushed onto the field. They were all different ages and looked excited to participate in the clinic. During the clinic I took videos of the Friends kids playing with the kids from Tobago. After the clinic ended we handed out cleats, balls and clothing to the kids who needed it the most. After all the equipment was distributed we watch as the kids ran back to their parents to show off their new stuff. I really enjoyed this experience and have privileged enough to do it twice now. It defiantly will be a trip I never forget.
At the begin of this summer I did a one week fellowship with the Robin Hood Foundation. Each day focused on a different poverty-related issue and organizations Robin Hood works with to combat that specific issue. The last day I did a presentation on alternatives to incarceration and what we learned at the Center for Court Innovation at the Red Hook Community Justice Center. This incredible opportunity segwayed perfectly into my five week long internship with the GO Project. The GO Project happens to be one of the organizations Robin Hood helps to fund, so after seeing the bigger picture and where much of the money comes from I was able to dive into the important work being done on the ground level. I worked with rising second grade students from under resourced schools and low income families, who were at risk of being held back because they were so far behind grade level. Everyday we worked on guided readings, math story problems, writing prompts, and played games together. I developed a deep bond with each student as I learned how their minds worked, how best they learned, and what external factors and obstacles affected their academic performance. For an hour each day the interns gathered to discuss problems in our classrooms and to analyze the serious issues and crippling inequity in the American education system. The education system in America is seriously flawed and little is being done to mend it, this was one of the first times I felt like I was making a direct ground level impact, while also thinking about the larger situation.
Lastly, I traveled to Tobago with the Friends soccer teams, where we held a soccer clinic and distributed gear, such as cleats, shin guards, ball, and tee shirts, to the local children. It was an incredible way to finish off a great summer of service.
In November, I participated in the Friends Seminary Open Day after school. I was placed in the performing arts booth because of my engagement with performing arts activities at school, and my job, along with all the others participating, was to give information on that particular aspect of Friends to prospective students. One by one, students interested in our area of study came up to our table to ask questions about the programs and classes Friends offered. It was so wonderful to meet students interested in the same things as the other kids at my booth and me. We told the students who came to our booth about the different opportunities students had in participating in this field at school, from classes to extracurricular activities like the plays and the musicals. Everyone who came to the performing arts table was interested in similar things, and it was great to see prospective students have a passion and curiosity for the same subject that we did.
I worked on a project for my precalculus class with Ben Frisch. For this project I interviewed my great uncle who is over 65 and lived in NYC for most of his life and entered data into a class collection to observe changes in demographics in NYC over time specifically about people over 65. I developed skills with predicting values and learned about the benefits of and challenges of living in NYC as an older person.
This summer I volunteered at the New York Public Library Ottendorfer Branch in my neighborhood over the course of about a month. I helped out with shelving, organizing, and pulling books for call lists as well as helping out with youth programs such as movie screenings and book parties like the “Arnie the Donut book party”. I also took part in a group for middle schoolers learning to use programming and develop computer games after school once a week. I met so many interesting people and got to connect to my neighborhood community through this experience and plan to go back this summer and maybe this school year as well.
This year, I spent service day with most of my grade sorting out medical supplies that would be exported to people who were in need. We sorted out as many supplies as possible, as well as being extra careful with the process of separating the goods with expiration dates too soon to be allowed to be sent. One of the main takeaways from this experience was how impactful our few hours’ work would be to many lives. Since there were so many of us working, we were able to help the organization finish a day or two-day’s worth of work on their own. Although the individual task was not overwhelming, the group’s production was very high due to the collectiveness of the work and the great cooperativeness of my classmates. This experience opened me up to the service of those in medical need, something I will seek to continue doing in the future. Likewise, service day allowed for an increased chemistry between my classmates and helped me experience collective work at a grand scale. It was wonderful to see all my classmates and I efficiently working together to help those in need by speeding up the process prior to the exportation.
For this year’s Service Day, I worked with my classmates to sort a myriad of medical supplies to be sent to those in need. I’ve done a fair amount of service between this school year and the last, but I can’t quite say that any experience has matched the uniqueness of this. It was thrilling to know that an effort as small as sorting goods could make such an impact on the lives of others. My favorite aspect may have been that the process was extremely cooperative, requiring constant teamwork with the peers around me. As a result, the experience felt like both a fantastic opportunity to serve and to learn something new, and to cooperate with my classmates in a new and rare way.
Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. Despite the early hour at which I was required to wake up, the four-hour bus rides to D.C. and back, and the (fittingly) sweltering temperatures for the day, I was still enthusiastic to join the March; to me, climate change has always been one of the most important issues facing humanity. Initially, however, I was skeptical – how was a march (wherein people ironically used an excess of paper to make signs) supposed to sway our politicians? Surely one march wouldn’t convince Donald Trump (who was happily holding a rally elsewhere in the country while we flooded D.C.) of the severity of climate change. How was one march supposed to legitimately reduce the effects of climate change? It all seemed pointless to me, initially. As I began to march with the crowds, though, it became clear to me that the point of the March was not to invoke sweeping political change. As I marched, I felt swayed by the intense emotion, confidence, and energy of the crowds. Soon, I realized that the point of the March was more to unite likeminded people, to make them feel powerful, and to reinvigorate hope. Sure enough, I felt powerful and hopeful once more. Later, I noticed that my favorite musician tweeted a photo/article relating the massive turnout for the March, to his one million followers. I then realized another purpose of the March, to not only reinvigorate us, but to reinvigorate hope in people all over the world.
When we went to the AFYA warehouse for service day, I wasn’t sure what exactly we would be helping out with. It turns out, we had to sort different medical supplies into bags with a number of the same type of product in them, labeling the quantity and expiration date of the products on the bag. We were told these bags would be transported around the world along with the supplies we stocked in them. It was really amazing to think about the fact that what we were doing would most likely have a direct impact on people — these supplies would probably save lives and help people who needed them. Just with us spending a couple of hours sorting these supplies into bags, some people all around the world may be having a chance at the life and health they possibly otherwise may not have had if they hadn’t gotten these medical supplies. I thought it was a really fun experience that was really rewarding.