Over the summer, I travelled with Me to We on a 16 day trip to Tanzania. I travelled with 25 other children (ages 15-19) to experience daily life in Maasai communities and help with the sustainable development on the communities that Me to We partners with. During the trip, I learned about the history and culture of the community, learned Swahili, met members of the community, helped families with their daily tasks to learn about their way of life and to support them, and our build site project was building the foundations of a previously started school (the organization had already built 2 rooms and we built the foundations for the third). I really enjoyed getting to know other kids who wanted to make a difference in the world, spending time with community members as our tents were actually inside the community, helping out the community, and having fun. I think this was a great way to make a difference and enjoy doing so, and I hope I can go on another trip with Me to We to another one of the countries they partner with.
The tenth grade participated in a chemistry project that dealt with the Flint Water Crisis. We were given many assignments and had to research different facts, terms, and general knowledge. We researched what the exact problem in Flint was, we also learned what lead is, and other important facts. We also did in class labs that further informed us of the different ways that chemicals react together. These labs later helped us in our final project. for our final project we were paired up in groups and assigned a topic about lead in water. My group was assigned the “Health Effects of Lead” topic. My group researched, on various medical websites, what lead does, in the short and long term, to your body. Once we completed the research we began to make a poster board for our presentation to the eighth graders. Our board was made up of information, statistics, and interactive sections. We really tried to stress how dangerous lead is to your body. We also had to complete a final individual project concerning lead. I chose the Water Contamination Lab. In this lab, I was given approximately 250 mL of dirty water taken from a river behind a fertilizer factory. I was then given three different chemical compounds and told to make to water as clean as possible. I completed the lab, but it was difficult because the lab was unguided. All in all this was a wonderful project to work on and very informative.
I volunteered at an Earth Matters service event on Governor’s island. On the island we helped plant seeds that will grow this summer, played with animals, learned about bees, and were taught about composting. I thought the day would simply be long and tedious, but as the day progressed I found myself enjoying it learning a lot about nature and how we have to take care of it. I learned how to plant in rows by hoeing dirt then making small holes and planting the seeds. We watered the seeds after hours of planting, and I felt good knowing that they will grow into fruits and vegetables for people to eat. During the process we had a short break where we learned a lot about bees and how they are transported to make honey, and I was surprised to find out how smart bees actually are. The people with Earth Matters who worked with us seemed to be very passionate about their job, and enjoyed every minute of their work. I enjoyed my work with Earth Matters, and hope to work with them again.
I volunteered in the kitchen at God’s Love We Deliver this year. I chopped carrots, parsnips, and even some rutabagas. Luckily for me, I was spared from the onion-dicing station each time I visited. By volunteering at such a well-known New York City nonprofit, I was able to learn what it actually takes to get all of the food they ship out made. Moral was high. Even the “bleeders”, as they called them (I was one of them), would come back from a short nurse’s office visit with a bandaid and return to chopping. I gained a lot of knowledge about the nonprofit and its mission, as well as met and spoke with some dedicated volunteers who basically work for God’s Love, but without pay. I look forward to returning to God’s Love, and am proud to have found an organization with which to volunteer consistently.
This past summer I helped out at my 9-year-old sister’s ballet camp. Since I go to the ballet school during the school year, the teacher knows me and trusts me with teaching anybody who needed help. I helped some kids with choreographing solos and others with simply learning new steps and polishing technique. It was a gratifying experience to be able to see how my work at the camp improved the childrens’ work, and it was also fun to do.
This year I had the opportunity to prepare meals for the Friends Shelter. I made a few meals throughout the year. Things like baked ziti and chili. It feels good to provide food for people who don’t have the privilege to get a hot meal every day. I also love to cook so it was a fun experience. I also had the opportunity to learn more about the Flint Water Crisis. It’s very sad what is happening and that the government isn’t doing anything to help.
Over the summer, I volunteered at the East Hampton Library children’s book fair. The East Hampton library is home to a wide selection of books available to all members of the community, and is also a place that facilities children’s learning and reading skills. The children’s book fair is a wonderful initiative organized by the library. The fair includes rides and games, a book fair, children’s book author signings, a raffle with great prizes, and arts and crafts, as well as musical performances and entertainments.
At the fair, I helped kids with arts and crafts, decorating bags, hats, boxes and masks. I also worked behind various game booths where kids were able to play and win prizes. Participating in this service opportunity was a very rewarding experience. The amount of people that showed up to support their local library was astounding, and very wonderful to see. People and families from all over the area came together in this community event. Lots of children were running around, smiling, eating, and having fun. Kids laughed when they won games and exclaimed when they got to the top of the rock wall. I am so glad I volunteered with the East Hampton Library, because I was able to participate in helping out with such a special and important cause.
I think the climate march in September was a great step in the right direction and I was glad I got to be a part of it. It brought awareness to a problem that’s always talked about but rarely acted upon. Climate change is an issue that effects me directly and even with participating in this march I don’t feel I’ve done enough to fight for the cause. Even surrounded by all those thousands of marchers that day I don’t think that was enough. Climate change is a global issue and therefore global efforts need to be made. That’s why it was great the March was in response to the UN Climate Summit, an event with a global perspective. I wish there had been follow up with the Summit, maybe that’s something I can pursue in the future.
On December 13th, I travelled with a group of Friends Seminary upper school students and faculty to D.C to attend the “Justice For All” March in light of the recent police killings of unarmed black men, specifically Michael Brown. Along with Al Sharpton, members of Brown’s family, Trayvon Martin’s family, and Tamir Rice’s family all spoke as well. We marched peacefully towards the Capitol Building, and I was specifically surprised with the relaxed state of the few police officers who were there to watch over the march, something I’m not used to living in New York. Overall, I felt that the message of the March was stated in a clear and bold fashion from what I saw as a successful March, which I enjoyed being a part of.
My participation in the HOPE Count helped me understand statistics in the
real world by showing me the necessity in getting the closest number possible for
certain world problems. Using statistics in the real world is the first step in helping
solve many substantial and important issues such as, the amount of homeless
people in New York City, the amount of people in the United States with AIDs, or the
amount of African-Americans that are incarcerated. By finding a statistic for a
specific issue, we can discover how large and prevalent that issue is and then learn
how to help prevent or stop it.
Reflecting on the beautifully intelligent quote from To Kill a Mockingbird, it is
absolutely correct that one can never begin to grasp the struggles of another human
being until they are in their shoes. By going on the HOPE Count I realized how
detrimental a lifestyle it is and how saddening it was to have a large number of
homeless people tallied at the end. Seeing it first hand, I now know that I will never
be able to understand or comprehend what it’s like to live homeless in the city
unless I am living it.