Over the summer, I was able to start a SHSAT tutoring program through the Hyolomo Youth Club, an organization in Queens that organizes events for first-generation Nepalese children. Through the month of August into the beginning of September, I tutored 3 8th graders in preparation for the SHSAT exam, which is an exam that places students who score high enough into one of the specialized public schools in New York City.
As the leader of this program, I created lesson plans that I carried out in our classes. During my time tutoring Edward, Tserring, and Sonam, I was responsible for creating homework assignments, completing lesson plans, planning class activities, grading their work, and proctoring practice tests. During the month, we worked through several SHSAT prep-books and I was able to teach them the structure, strategies, and material (English Language Arts & Math) that they need to know for the SHSAT, which they will be taking in October.
Although I was able to help them improve their score and get them to a score that would allow them to go to a specialized high school, I also learned and grew. Through teaching them topics that they sometimes struggled with, I learned important skills of organization, patience, time-management, and how to give constructive criticism. Additionally, it was incredibly rewarding to get to see how much they learned and improved, and I was fortunate enough to form strong relationships with all three of them. Their gratitude and ability to stay positive and have fun were inspiring to me, and left me excited to continue to help them prepare for this test on the coming Saturdays.
Last August I had the opportunity to go on a service learning trip with the Friends soccer team to Tobago. It was a wonderful experience to visit the island and get to know kids who were in school there. My favorite part of the trip was when we held several soccer training sessions with girls and boys who were interested in the sport. It was the first time that I had ever taught anyone how to play soccer and I loved it. The kids were all really engaged and enthusiastic. It gave me the idea that I would like to coach younger kids in soccer once I recover from my concussion. We also brought soccer equipment to Tobago, such as cleats and soccer balls, which we distributed to the kids who were in the soccer program at the school we visited. It was nice to be able to give the children equipment that they really needed in order to be able to continue to pursue this wonderful sport. They were so appreciative, and I enjoyed helping the kids find the right equipment for them. Although Tobago is a small island, it is extremely dedicated to excellence in sports, as demonstrated by the fact that Trinidad and Tobago have won 19 medals at the Olympics. I felt privileged to be able to have this service learning experience in such a great community.
Over the summer, I volunteered at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in New York. I spent most of my time there calling potential voters to come out and support Hillary in this upcoming election. I talked to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, trying to convince them to either vote for Hillary or to try and volunteer for the campaign. At the beginning, I was nervous about making calls, but towards the end, I was pretty comfortable with doing so. It was a fun experience and I was happy that I got to take action in this controversial election.
This summer, I worked with Roche Pharmaceuticals, a medical company that creates new medicines for patients that hopefully cure their diseases. I collaborated with Roche to create an app that will use surveys and games to track patients’ progress after taking a new medication. A patient will use this app everyday, and it will overtime track a patient’s progress and strength via games. I was able to help Roche create games that will effectively test patients’ strength and will also provide exciting, engaging and fun games for children to play. For example, I suggested ways to test patients’ strength and also helped design the app + create games to make make it more fun and exciting. Additionally, I got to create surveys that will be sent to hospitals across the US for patients to answer. With that information, I will run “focus groups” where I will interview patients for what they hope to see in the upcoming app, and from that information, Roche will improve their app to make it better suited for patients. This was a a really fun and rewarding experience because I was able to interact directly with patients who will be heavily impacted by this app and medication, which will hopefully be able to improve their quality of life.
Earlier in the year, some friends and I helped out at MulchFest. What we did was shovel a pile of mulch into wheelbarrows, and from there, we took to wheelbarrows to a grassy area and spread the mulch around. While I was shoveling the mulch, I heard various people on the good smell the mulch gave, and some people thanked us for doing the service. After 4 hours of work, I felt really good and accomplished.
In February, a few friends and I volunteered for god’s love we deliver’s big love weekend. Big love weekend is a 3 day event where there are lots of fundraisers to raise money for gods love we deliver. If you didnt know, gods love we deliver is a charity that brings home cooked hot meals to people who are otherwise not able to get them. Some of the thigs I did were make lunch for the participants and also do some yoga. It was interesting. I never considered myself a “yogi”, but it was a fun new experience, sort of like twisting your body in the weirdest way while listening to soothing music. We also got to keep the yoga mat, which was an added bonus of doing service.
Over the summer, I got the opportunity to volunteer with University of Southern California’s Neuroscience Graduate Research Program. During the summer, I collaborated with a team of research scientists at USC to help design a textbook cover on disease discovery and treatments that will be released in June of 2016. My experience working with USC was very eye-opening. It enabled me to understand the amount of work, dedication and passion nonprofits really have for what they do. I witnessed the amount of care and diligence the researchers had when creating this textbook cover with me which made me appreciate further the amount of care they put into their work. While collaborating to generate a design for a book cover, I made a series of different designs and covers which was then narrowed down to only a few. This experience taught me teamwork skills along with being able to take constructive criticism and use it to create a more successful end result. Being surrounded by so many accomplished, stimulating, caring people was truly inspirational to me and made me want to work extremely hard for them. I found my summer service to be very fulfilling because I was able to develop my interest in art, non-profit organizations, research, and science into one project. Additionally, I developed new skills by working with USC. I sharpened my research skills, furthered my skills in computer design (Photoshop and PowerPoint), and improved my public speaking and communication skills. At the end of the summer, I had to give a presentation to a group of scientists on the research I had done and the covers that I had created. Although it was undeniably nerve-wracking, it greatly improved my public speaking and communication skills. By the end of the summer, I found a new sense of gratitude for non-profits as well as finding a new interest of mine that I care about deeply.
I’ve included these photos below that include the logo of USC but also photos of cells and molecules that I helped edit and organize for the textbook’s cover.
For our YPI Project my group Fouad Dawkar, Sabrina Debler, Beatrice Findlay, and Justin Rubino chose to address the issue of suicide in New York. The organization we chose was The Samaritans who work on many ways of suicide prevention. The main way that really struck me is their suicide prevention hotline. I always knew about these hotlines and how they worked, but never truly understood that if handled the right way it could save someones life. I also came to understand how the people calling may feel and come to sympathize with them rather than wondering why they would do such a thing. Though we did not get that far in the YPI competition I feel I learned a lot about my organization as well as the difference we can make through service. This project helped teach me about The Samaritans and about the importance of service and that I work for what I believe in.
When my group first decided to do focus on homeless people in New York for our project I felt like there was not going to be anything I would learn from this project. After visiting the Bowery Residence Community I had learned so much though and it really made me see this problem of homeless people in New York in a different way. When you are walking anywhere in New York you are most likely going to see someone who is homeless and I realized when this would happen to me I would only think of how to avoid this person. Throughout this project I saw how homeless people are looked at as bums and viewed as lower by almost all people which I was not proud of because I viewed homeless people the same way. A lot of times people are homeless for reasons they could not control like having a mental illness and they do not have the proper treatment which leads them to losing jobs and they end up living on the streets. When I found out the different situations that made people homeless I felt terrible for not offering help because most of the times this people are homeless and it is not even their fault. BRC helps homeless people get their normal lives back like like this one guy we met while working on our project in BRC. He had been so excited to tell us that he had just been allowed to move to an apartment in the Bronx after a year of waiting and that really stuck with me because I got to see how BRC is changing the lives of these people for the better.That is why BRC has been such a great organization to volunteer with because of the work they do and how they help homeless people get another chance in life and I would be glad to volunteer again.
For service day, the ninth grade presented their YPI projects to each other in the meeting house and to others who wanted to come and watch. There were 8 groups that made it to the finals out of the sixteen original groups. Each group chose an important social issue that was relevant in the NYC community. Then they had to choose a nonprofit. Everyone advocated for their nonprofits to win, but only one group could win the $5000. My group chose to work with Gigi’s Playhouse, a nonprofit organization that dealt with the issues surrounding Down syndrome, and the common misperceptions of people with Down syndrome. Although my group did not win the grand prize, I learned a lot from this experience. Going into it, I wanted to win the $5000 dollars for Gigi’s Playhouse because If felt bad for the children with Down syndrome and wanted to help the organization. I thought, “It’s so unfair that they already have to suffer so much. Gigi’s deserves that money so they can help them and provide a safe and comfortable environment for them.” But after doing research and visiting Gigi’s, I think my motives for why I wanted to win changed. I always knew that people with Down syndrome were not that different from us. And the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder: Why should they be treated so differently based on things they were born with, and cannot change? I realized that I, too, was viewing Down syndrome in the wrong way. Instead of feeling bad for people with Down syndrome, I realized how unjust the common misperceptions about them being so different are. I wanted my group to win so we could give the $5000 dollars to Gigi’s to not only improve their programs, but also educate others, showing them that people with Down Syndrome are just like us and don’t deserve to be disrespected and treated as unequal