At the beginning of this school year, I began peer tutoring two kids in Arabic. I had peer tutored one of them last year and was friendly with the other through other mutual classes. I was nervous about tutoring two kids at once instead of just one like I had done in the past, but it proved to be both a rewarding and fun experience. Being able to help more than one person in any small way I could was something I thoroughly enjoyed. Providing an environment for these two students in which they felt safe to mess up while helping them to feel less ashamed of struggling with a subject and therefore feel a bit better about themselves as a whole was an amazing experience.
Throughout the tutoring, I became even closer with these two other students as I watched their confidence build and, consequently, their abilities in the language. Helping these two students feel a little less overwhelmed with their classes, work, or whatever else they were stressing about was a truly rewarding experience which I hope to continue next year.
As part of our history class the 9th grade worked with connect to learn to help send a girl to the Kisyoro school in Ruhiira Uganda. We did this by having two bake sales and by screening the film Girl Rising. I baked for the bake sale, and I attended the screening. At the screening I was surprised to find that there was still so much gender related oppression and that a basic education could really help. I think that it is great that Friends as a community is taking a stand and helping send girls in Uganda to school. There is no good reason that girls and boys in all nations should not have the same educational opportunities as we do at Friends.
Watching Girl Rising and participating in the 9th grade service-learning project has been an eye-opening experience for me. We worked to raise money to send a girl in Uganda to school through the organization Connect to Learn. We did this by having two bake-sales and by having a suggested donations table at the Girl Rising screening. We also communicated with children at the Kisyoro School in Uganda, and talked about issues in our societies and ways to solve them.
This experience has made me realize just how lucky everyone in the Friends community is. I realized how easy it is for me to take my education for granted and sometimes even think of it as a burden. When learning about girls who would do anything to be educated, it makes me feel ashamed for the countless times I have complained about my homework or not taken full advantage of the educational opportunities that are available to me. It meant so much to me to be able to participate in this project to give another girl the same opportunities I have.
This year, the class of 2016 participated in a service learning project where we partnered up with the Kisyoro school, located in Uganda. In order to raise money to send a girl to secondary school, we held many bake sales, in which many of the ninth graders took a part in, whether manning the table or baking homemade goods for the table. After watching the documentary, I really got to thinking how lucky we all are to have easy access to education. I felt that everyday I was complaining about having so much homework, and many of us just want to get good jobs for the salary; however, girls around the world in places that don’t offer easy access to education are willing to do anything to receive education, to receive homework, and many girls want to become doctors and nurses to help their villages, not for the money. While some of the stories in the film were very sad to watch, I realized that just tearing up and telling everybody how sad I felt was not going to help. Spreading the word about this film, and just trying to do whatever I can do to help these girls receive the education they so deserve was a start. The next day during a part of history class, our class counted the money, and reached a total of 1,799.26 dollars. As a classmate and I informed the class of the total, another classmate offered a dollar thus reaching our goal. It was a brief, but emotional moment not only for us, but for a girl somewhere in Uganda who soon finds out that she can go to school.
In my freshman year at Friends Seminary, I was a volunteer at an event in which we screened the documentary, Girl Rising, as an advocacy project. The movie Girl Rising is about 9 girls that live in third world countries that are trying to earn an education so they could live their lives differently and out of poverty. We also partnered with an organization called Connect to Learn which was a charity that helped girls that lived in impoverished places to go to school. Friends Seminary decided to earn enough money to send a girl to a school in Uganda. To do this, many other students and I started up bake sales in the lobby, accepted donations from anyone that wanted to donate, and have a big movie night and have a suggested donation and concession stands to earn enough money to send one of the girls to school. When started this activity I didn’t really care about what I was doing and I just wanted service hours, however, after getting more involved in the movie and actually seeing it actually showed me how hard and sad it is for young women in many other countries of the world. I wanted this girl to rise and actually go to school because of the doing of Friends Seminary. In the end of the entire process, we raised over $1,800 which was the amount of money we needed to this girl to go to school. The movie was very touching and it showed me how different it is outside of the country that I live in.
I’m the host of a travel web-series called Booker Travels that is meant to encourage kids to get out of the house and explore the world. Every year we try to go on three trips and usually come back with enough content to produce five episodes. These five episodes show the featured locations through the eyes of a younger generation rather than some adult standing in front of a museum and reading a script. Our goal isn’t to educate people with facts that they could have just googled, but to give our viewers a taste of what other parts of the world are like. My travels always give back to the community that we visit and also try to expand the horizons to whoever has access to the website.
Our show also always involve locals, who give us a taste of what life in these places is really like. Each of the episodes talk about either getting to the location, the local scene and culture, the cuisine, the surfing or skateboarding environment, and its contrasts with home. We find it very important to immerse ourselves in the culture to truly get the most out of our trips. In doing this we usual end up staying at a house rather than a hotel and spend a lot of time following locals and their daily routines. This year I traveled to San Francisco and Sri Lanka. On each of our trips I meet some amazing people, and some of their stories and the culture that surrounds them is exposed on our episodes. Our goal is to give the closest thing to a first hand experience and inspire kids to explore the world around them.
check out our website: http://bookertravels.com
check out our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/btravelsnetwork
In History Class this year we learned about the Millennium Development Goals. They are 8 goals created by the United Nations, focusing on improving the world, in many different ways by 2015. We each individually researched a goal and wrote a research paper on it. We also individually wrote a research paper on the Millennium Villages Project, which is a project with 10 participating villages in Africa fighting against poverty, focusing on its praise and criticism. This past year we also collaborated with the Kisyoro School in Ruhiira, Uganda. We sent key notes to them describing life in the city, including photos of ourselves and different city things, and they in return sent us the same about where they live. Interacting and learning about these girls lives has been a truly amazing, and eye-opening experience.You don’t acknowledge what privilege we have living in NYC, and going to such a great school on a normal basis, but through the 9th grade service learning project you are shown that in the best of ways.
Being a part of the Girl Rising screening was something I am so proud of, and when it was over, all I wanted to do was help even more people. Girl Rising is a movie that shows the life of girls around the world in different economical situations, and gets the word out of the different lifestyles of different people. Our school was chosen as one of the few places to premiere this movie, which alone shows the importance of it. The event eventually raised enough money for two girls to attend high school, which is incredibly gratifying. The idea that we have granted two girls a chance at an education, and a chance of a better future for them and their town is beyond amazing. Being able to share these girls story through premiering Girl Rising definitely made the project more meaningful to me, and I believe it was an amazing conclusion to the work we had done the whole year.
In early February, I volunteered to be painted by Daphne’s art class. It wasn’t hard work to sit as model. I sat in one position for most of the time. But I’ve never taken a painting class at Friends before and I got to see what it would be like. Daphne welcomed me and was very encouraging to all of her students. It was a calmer environment than any other class I’d been in. I enjoyed it and I think it’s an important environment to be in, one that isn’t frantic and stressful. I’ve been inspired by the class, and I am considering taking the painting class next year. Thank you.
For part of my service in 2013, I volunteered to be one of the older friends for the 8th grade students. I was paired up with two other upper school students, both of them seniors, and the three of us were then paired up with one of the 8th grade advisory groups. Our group met twice this year. The first time our group met was in November, and we held a little meeting for them about high school at Friends. They were able to ask us any questions about high school life, academics, or really anything they were curious about. Since we expected some of them would be shy, the three of us high schoolers also came prepared with some topics to talk about and to share our experiences at Friends. We then met again with our same 8th grade group in January, but this time we took them off campus to have another meeting over lunch. They came prepared with more questions for us, and it was also just a time for us high schoolers to chat with the younger students.
Being a part of this program was a great opportunity that I really enjoyed. It was a great chance to be able to get to know the younger students and hear what they have to say. It was also interesting for me to hear what things they have heard about high school and to reassure them about what is true or not! I got to know the two other seniors as well as the 8th graders, and overall, we had productive group conversations. I feel we really helped reassure some of the 8th graders to stay at Friends for high school and answered most of their pondering questions as well as I got to really think about and reflect on my own experiences in high school, which I do not do very often. I am glad I took a part of this for my service and was happy to help the Friends community.
We know that there are some things we can’t do on our own. We know that there are some things we do better together. -Barack Obama
I really identified with this suggested quote in relation to the rally to stop the keystone pipeline in washington that I attended. While in washington many people were holding signs for the same cause: ecological preservation. While they may have had different views on what it means to protect the environment, i.e. using nuclear power, not using nuclear power, protecting rainforest, investing in solar energy etc. Any individual demonstration that represented any one of these very specific ideas would have little to no impact on the whether ecological legislation was considered. In order to have any effect on the general cause they commonly believed in, despite any differences they may have had, these groups united for this one purpose, which gained a lot more publicity and meaning because it was a common cause supported by so many people. Some things we can only do together. It’s not simply that they are better done when they are done cooperatively but there is no chance of any progress without cooperation and unification.
This brief quote also points to an important feature of service, which is that the best service is effective service. Any individual’s actions are dwarfed by the problem if the effort is not organized and efficient. And the workgroup can add up to more than the sum of all individuals’ actions. This means service it’s not a burden on the shoulders of a small group, and instead it is a duty that belongs to everyone and by applying that standard we can collectively create a far larger impact.