Helping a 4th grade class this year was something I truly enjoyed. I got to know these little kids and felt like I was becoming a more involved community member. These little kids made the work feel like play and always bought a smile to my face. It also helped remind me that I can help lots of people younger than me. Even though, they looked up to me I feel like I learned more from them than they did from me. That is what made doing that for my community service great.
Throughout the course of the school year, the ninth grade participated in a service project on global poverty. We studied, researched and wrote about the Millennium Development Goals and the Millennium Villages Project. We also were fortunate to collaborate with an MVP school in Uganda, the Kisyoro School. We exchanged voicethreads, pictures, and conversations with teenagers in the school. To tie the service project together, we screened Girl Rising, a documentary that visualized the importance of girl’s education, to raise money to send a girl in Uganda to school.
Although I loved watching Girl Rising since it was a very moving film that really made me aware of problems other girls faced, the best part of the night was writing notes to girls in Uganda. After the film finished, slips of paper were handed out detailing a girl’s name and her aspirations so people could sign a banner laid out. Many people wrote notes, encouraging the girl in her studies and other supportive words. I loved being able to write to girls my own age, and know that in a few short weeks they would be able to see it. It was also lovely to see everyone surrounding the banner, trying to find a place to write on the paper crowded with signatures. That was definitely a fun night!
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the New York City area. I live in Hoboken New Jersey and the hurricane had a huge impact on my town. Half of the y city was flooded, the entire city was out of power, and the National Guard came to help rescue the 20,000 people who were stranded in their apartments because of the flood waters. Because there so much work to be done to help people stranded in their apartments, the city began asking for volunteers to help. So for Wednesday October 31st and Thursday November 1st I volunteered with my city government to help city residents impacted by the hurricane. I helped to pack food baskets with enough food to last four days for families of four who were trapped in their apartment buildings. Additionally, I traveled in a National Guard truck, delivering large packages of food to senior citizen home that were without power in my town. I was also sent in a group with 11 other people to a 12 story senior citizen affordable housing building, that had been without electricity for four days. Our job was to knock on the doors of the residents rooms, and ask if they had any medical prescriptions they needed to have filled.
Helping residents in my town who had been affected by the hurricane was a really fulfilling experience for me. I think it helped to make me feel closer to my community. Also it was a really empowering experience because I felt that what I was doing really was helping people. It made me feel that at least in this one specific instance, my volunteering really was helping to improve the lives of people who were in a really horrible situation.
Helping out the school with their Lunar New Year celebration has allowed me to obtain a better understanding of the culture. All throughout lower school and middle school, I have attended the Lunar New Years celebration with my family. Even though I have experienced it many times, I had the greatest experience while helping set up the event. I learned exactly what the event accomplished. Helping set up the Lunar New Years event has allowed me to better understand the school’s traditions.
In 9th grade this year at Friends, I have had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of service projects to contribute to our community. Starting with Hurricane Sandy Cleanup in Staten Island earlier in the year, to Service Day a few weeks ago, these experiences are an essential part of service learning at Friends. Throughout this year in my World History class, we have partnered with the Kisoyoro school in Uganda. The Kisoyoro school is part of the Millennium Villages Project, which is a project funded by the UN to build schools for countries in extreme poverty. Each school works with the families around it to get as many kids educated as possible. We got to interact with the girls at the Kisoyoro school through Voicethread, a program that allowed us to share pictures or videos along with an audio clip. They then posted responses on the shared Kisoyoro/Friends Moodle website.
One of the most interesting responses we got from Kisoyoro was their response to service at Friends. Some of us had talked about how Friends has a homeless shelter each night in the smaller gym, and how the cafeteria uses leftover food to serve them. The response from Kisoyoro was particularly striking, as they were surprised with the fact that there even were any homeless people in America. Their views of America were that everyone was wealthy, with no poverty whatsoever. This shows how the views of America from foreign countries are much different than we might expect. This learning project has helped me understand that not every other country may be exactly how we see it from ours.
In the summer of 2012, I went to Indian Brook summer camp for girls. This camp focuses on being environmentally conscious. We try to use only what we need. We also have service trips. There is a farm service trip and a trail service trip. They are five days each and we work for five to six hours for three of those days. On the first day we cleared a new hiking path on one of the mountains near the camp. We cleared leaves, branches, and made it much easier for people to hike there. We ended up making a really nice new trail. On the second day we tried to fix an already existing trail. The path was unusable because of how dangerous it was. There were a lot of roots and rocks in the way that people had tripped on and gotten hurt. We cleared it so that it could be used again. Now it is a nice frequently used hiking trail. On the third day we hiked to a stream and did tests to see if it was healthy. We collected samples of the kinds of bugs were living in it so we could see how the water could support life.
Going to this camp has really helped me get involved with service. I really enjoyed going on this trip and helping out with something that would have taken a long time to get done without us. Now more hiking trips can be arranged because we made new paths that are safe for adults and children. It felt great to be able to do something that would benefit the entire Farm and Wilderness Community.
Last Sunday I joined thousands of other walkers during the AIDS Walk in Central Park and the Upper West Side. It was nowhere near a nice day as it was cold and it rained for the entirety of the walk, but this did not stop all of the walkers from walking for a cause they believed in. We walked about 6 miles, and although it was a terrible day and a long walk, there was an aura of happiness and motivation from every walker around me. It seemed as though the weather did not stop anyone from giving up; they walked for something more than just themselves, but for a larger cause that would help large amounts of people, and by the end of the walk the walkers raised over $4,000,000!!
In my world history class, we spent a large amount of the year learning about the Millennium Villages Project and the Millennium Development goals. The Millennium Villages Project was developed in cooperation with the eight ambitious Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals are a set of targets made to improve our world. The goals range from ending poverty and hunger to creating environmental sustainability. Through fourteen select villages in Sub-Saharan Africa, progress has been made to complete all the MDGs by 2015. The MVP has found success in almost all eight goals. In particular, the Millennium Villages Project has had tremendous triumphs in agriculture, health, and education. For history, we wrote two research essays, one on a specific Millennium Development Goal and the other on the progress of the MVP. Then, we made voice threads and blogs to share with children in a school in Kisyoro. The voice threads told about our daily life at Friends Seminary and the blog was describing one Millennium Development Goal and how we experience it in New York City. My blog was about promoting gender equality and empowering women. We mentioned three women that we found inspirational in lives. In response, a girl wrote back and told us that they are inspired by their president, “Mr Yoweri Museveni who brought back woman emancipation within the country, gender equality is visible in a case that there is female dominating with in the politics of the country, in every office you go in now you meet a woman”.
In order to raise money, $1,300, for a girl to go to school for three years, Friends hosted a screening of Girl Rising. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend but I did contribute by baking and selling treats at the bake sale. After learning so much about the struggles girls face daily and about of how many girls are deprived of an education, it felt really good to be able to help this cause and send at least one girl to school.
This is a picture of all the Millennium Development Goals:
Tickets4TKTS is an outreach initiative that I created sophomore year. The organization works with the children at the Association to Benefit Children, an after school program that caters to underprivileged children. Every month tickets4tkts goes to ABC and assists the counselors. We work with the younger children and read to them, prepare snacks, and help them with their homework. Tickets4tkts also hosts Lower Schools sports clinics every semester. The sports clinics are hosted by Warren Salandy in the gym.
I enjoyed going monthly to ABC and seeing the same kids every time. I think that by the end I had a great relationship with the kids who I have been seen for 2 years now. We read and play games but also learn new things. I helped children learn math and improve their writings skills and also attended a mini a capella concert with them. I loved that they knew my name and I knew all of their names and we were really able to bond. At the same time I got to know the Lower Schools kids better at the LS sports clinics. I already work as a LS teacher’s assistant and a LS math buddy and I had some of the lower schoolers that I already worked with come to the sports clinics and bring their friends. I can’t wait to continue all of these amazing service experiences next year.
On January 28th my Statistics class took part in the yearly HOPE survey. We met at P.S. 41 around 11pm where we were given our instructions. After breaking up into groups we walked around areas of the city in search of homeless people. Leitzel, Kaleigh and I walked around a radius of five blocks near 30th street and 11th avenue, up and down each street to make sure we didn’t miss anybody. We were instructed to approach anyone and everyone we saw, even if they didn’t appear homeless. It was hard to overcome the awkwardness of approaching a stranger because of the judgements passed along with saying “Hey, do you have somewhere to sleep tonight?”
Although we didn’t find anyone who was homeless (which is actually good, although somewhat of a let down after taking part in this survey) we felt like we still helped by not finding anyone. Our part, of surveying five or six blocks, is only one groups part to the entire night. Many of groups did in fact find homeless people who they helped (or at least tried). It was nice to be a part of this yearly activity that not many know about. It gave me insight into the active role the city of New York pays toward the homeless. It connected the people living in all parts of New York together in the pursuit to ending homelessness. The HOPE survey was a great experience that hopefully more of the upper school will take part in next year!