For two weeks over the summer, I worked to assist a community in a rural village in Tanzania on community initiated projects. Specifically, I helped to refurbish classrooms at a school and helped to connect a school that previously not possessed access to running water, with a local water supply system. We spent a week digging through fields and creating a trench to put a water pipe in place, to connect the school to a local water line. Connecting this school where about 400 students attend each day to the local water supply had been a project that this specific village had been working on for the past five years. However, the villagers could only work on this project in their free time. The exciting thing about our project was that our group of National Geographic student volunteers determination to connect this water line to the school, ignited the determination of many community members as well. Each day, farmers would leave their work to join us. By the end of our two weeks, several of the older school children, and even the school principle came to help us finish the job.
What really felt rewarding to me about this project was that we helped a community come together to improve their own school.
I helped with lighting and stage management during the school musical Les Miserables. I decided to help with the show because of my passion for theater and theater tech. I was responsible for running the light board during the show. I was able to help make the musical successful and that meant a lot. I hope to be involved in the Drama program at Friends next year and look forward to what is to come.
I recently helped Jesse Pasca and Katherine Farrell curate an art display in the school gallery.
The artists were alumni of the school. Even though I only helped for a short time, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed discussing where to put things. I never realized how position strongly affects the impact of a piece. It was good to see it the finished product of our hard work up on the wall.
Thank you Jesse and Katherine.
YPI Service Learning Reflection
Before my group started researching illiteracy and went to Reading Partners, I did not think that illiteracy was an important issue at all. I thought that we were not going to be taken seriously as there are many other more saddening and personally effecting issues. However, as I begun to study the issue I realized that illiteracy is a very striking and prominent issue in the world today. Not only is it a social issue around the world, but as I found out it was very prominent in New York. I did not like the fact that the city I live in had low literacy rates compared to other cities across the U.S. This made me really try to win the $5,000 grant, whereas before I did not have motivation to do well and put in a good amount of effort into this project.
I found that a big challenge during the project was working together in groups. It was hard to bring the group back together after we had disagreed on something important. We realized that we had to work together if we wanted to have a successful presentation and show that our social issue is important. It was also challenging in a big group to have everybody pay attention. There were often side conversations which distracted the group from working as a team, and we could have done better if we had focused more often.
On Friday May 2nd after school I volunteered to help set up for the Spring Fair happening the next day. Initially, my service consisted mostly of moving tables and boxes. At about 4 I started working on decorating the Lobby for the next morning. This first consisted of putting brown paper up around the entire lobby so that we could paint on the paper. After we put the paper on the wholes we began tracing an outline for what the mural would look like. For the next few years we proceeded to paint the mural. This began by filling in the outlines with different colors of paint. Then we went over the outline in dark paint to make the outlines of the building very clear. The final step was to go back over in different colors and paint in the tiny details.
The next day coming back to school it was very nice to see all the little kids and parents commenting on how nice the lobby was. It was enjoyable to be able to do something that made the little kids days slightly better. The coolest thing about painting the mural was seeing how much the lobby transformed and how far we had come. We were able to completely transform the lobby and create a completely different experience for the kinds in only a short period of time.
On service day 2014, my advisory went to a NYC food bank. We took the subway out to Harlem and worked in the pantry section, organizing boxed and canned goods. Each member of our advisory had a specific station in the little food supply area and for about two hours, we each stayed in our designated spot, helping the customers choose which goods they wanted and giving them the appropriate amount for their family.
This experience was very touching as we saw a variety of different people come in to shop, including single elders and families with young children. It was crazy to see how we were only allowed to give a certain amount of food to each customer according to the food bank’s policies. It was especially tough denying some of the shoppers when they were begging us to sneak them an extra can of beans or an extra carton of milk.
However, overall, I really enjoyed working at the food bank because we got to interact with the people, which made me feel like I was actually contributing to the community. We furthermore got to experience what it was like for some of those low-income families who had to carefully and strategically pick out their week’s supply of food from very limited choices.
On Tuesday, April 29, I and the rest of my grade of sophomores partnered with Scenic Hudson for Service Day. Scenic Hudson is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley. We arrived slightly early to school that day, at 8 am in the Meetinghouse, and we sat by advisory. We were then placed into buses and drove off to Beacon, specifically, Long Dock Park, where we met the Scenic Hudson Staff and divided into working groups, once again organized by advisory. Along with a few of my fellow advisees, we took a long walk across a path, where we primarily focused on picking up pieces of trash and litter that was so carelessly left. Since there was lots of trash and it was a long path, the entire process of picking up trash took at least an hour or two. After the long walk, we headed back to where we first began, and had lunch with the rest of the grade nearby. After lunch, we went back to work, this time raking leaves and cutting branches. It was slightly less organized after lunch, and I split up to work with fellow students outside my advisory. After a couple of strenuous hours of work cutting branches and raking leaves, we all left Scenic Hudson and returned to school.
I had lots of fun during Service Day. I found that doing community service can be fun and all you need is a positive mental attitude for it to be so. I had lots of fun talking with a bunch of other students I don’t often talk to, and also with some of my fellow advisees. It seemed as though once our grade worked as a community to accomplish multiple and various tasks at hand, nothing could prevent us from doing so. Service Day was a great experience for me and I look forward to participating in it next year.
A few weeks ago, I participated in Friends Seminary’s annual Big Fat Service Day. I had lots of fun working with students of all ages at the school, from Seniors to 4th graders. I started in the morning with preparing meals for guests of the Friends Shelter, as well as coloring birthday cards for God’s Love We Deliver. Then there was a half-hour break for lunch; however, I did not feel as though I was in dire need of nutrition, so a few seniors and I decided to go and make rainbow loom bracelets. At first none of us had the slightest idea of how to do make these bracelets; however, with the help of the rest of the community (middle schoolers and parent chaperons), we were able to make a total of 56 bracelets. I then went down to the ceramics room, where a bunch of people were making pottery bowls for Empty Bowl’s anti-hunger event that would take place later in May. I had taken ceramics as a visual art during this year’s first semester, so I was pretty experienced in making bowls, and continually sought to help out with much younger kids who were eager to make them. While of course I at first would not have considered service at Friends to be the ideal way to start a Saturday, I had lots of fun and learned a lot from the day. I realized how effective and efficient working as a community is, and how fun it can be to do service and help out others who are not as privileged as us.
For part of my service requirement this year, I volunteered as a peer tutor in chemistry, though we sometimes worked on math (Algebra II). Although this is my third year being a peer tutor, it is my second year tutoring in chemistry and first year tutoring in Algebra II. During our weekly sessions we reviewed for tests, worked on homework or lab reports, and went over any confusing concepts.
Being a peer tutor taught me how to articulate various concepts: I found that it is very helpful to use examples and to have the student explain the concept to you in their own words. It was meaningful to work in the community and to see that I was really helping another student learn. I could see the difference between what the student understood at the beginning of the session and what the student understood by the end of the session. I have always enjoyed volunteering as a peer tutor at Friends and hope to continue working in the field of education in the future.
This past winter, about twenty Friends Students participated in the God’s Love We Deliver 21st annual “Race to Deliver”. It was a four mile race in Central Park to raise money for GLWD, an organization that delivers meals to people who cannot cook their own meals or leave the house to buy food. The race started at about eight in the morning. We all congregated near the starting point and collected our t-shirts and numbers. It was freezing outside, about 25 degrees, but we all came with our donations, ready to run the race.
Between our numb fingertips and the frozen water at pit stops along the way, it was no easy feat. But, we all finished the race in between 30 (the students on the track team) and 5o minutes. It was a really great experience to see hundreds of New Yorkers banding together to support GLWD. It was amazing to have such a large group of people united by their desire to help out as well as the cold. There were no complaints of the unfortunate weather because everyone knew that they were there for a purpose larger than just running a race.