During the first few months of the school year I tutored students in math at my old middle school. My math teacher from 7th and 8th grade asked me if I would like to come back to do this. I enjoyed helping kids with their math skills and seeing them grow of the period of time when I visited. I would go for around 45 minutes after school two times a week. Doing this was special to me because when I went to Salk, I knew many kids in my grade who had trouble with math, but none of our teachers had the time to help them. To go back and made a tangible difference in my school was very special to me. My experiences with the kids at Salk helped me fortify my connections with that school. Although it was hard on many students at Salk to not be able to get the one on one math teaching they needed, it didn’t mean that the teachers there weren’t working hard. As I answered kids’ questions my math teacher was planning the lesson for the next day, or recording specialized videos (about the topics in class) on youtube that kids could watch in their spare time. He was doing all he could to help his students, and there still wasn’t enough time for him to teach them all the things they needed to know. Being able to give my teacher some time to do work while I taught was an experience that matured and enlightened me to be able to understand where my teacher had been coming from. Although the visits didn’t really take much time, and I could be back at school for sports practice, it was still possible to influence the students greatly. I don’t think people realize how big of a difference one can make without spending any money or taking a huge chunk of time out of their days.
Rachel Hodes Class of 2017
For my service outreach, I volunteered as a baseball coach at Pier 40. Pier 40 is a baseball camp aimed at children age 6-12; it has been providing excellent opportunities to foster and help cultivate the talent of many young athletes over the years, including me. I went to the camp for 4 years. I still go there several times a week because my baseball team practices there, so I have formed many meaningful bonds with the staff there. Sadly, Hurricane Sandy had a horrific effect on the facility because it is literally on the water. It took 6 months and copies fund raising before the pier opened again, but it was still in a tenuous position. Funds were very limited. So, I decided to volunteer as a coach to ensure that the great tradition was upheld. I think that Pier 40 allows for young kids throughout the city to hone their skills, get exercise, and form lasting memories. My weeks as a coach to the young kids was extremely meaningful to me. Not only did I have a great time mentoring these young children but I also felt that they learned a lot from me. That was in August. Pier 40 is still on its road to full recovery, but it’s in a much better state now. I hope to volunteer again this summer too.
Booker Travels is a travel show that I host. In it, I explore different cultures around the world by meeting locals who share similar interests such as skateboarding, surfing, music, and art. This past year we worked on episodes in Morocco, North Carolina, and New York. I went to Morocco over spring break and spent most of my time on the coast with local surfers Ali Tamara and Fahd. For about a week we drove up and down the Moroccan coast searching for hidden surf breaks, and unridden skate spots. It was inspiring to be able to film both Ali and Fahd doing what they loved. Watching them get comfortable in front of the cameras over time and seeing their excitement about our show made the episodes really heartwarming and sweet. Seeing all the positive feedback we got from those particular episodes really made me feel proud about working with Ali and Fahd. I hope that we were able to help publicize both their Moroccan skate shop and the growing Moroccan skate scene.
Over spring break I traveled to Jordan on the Arabic trip. While in Jordan we stayed at an Eco Park for two days. The Eco Park was a place where people could stay and learn about techniques to conserve energy and limit the amount of water used. We visited a bird hut that was made out recycled bottles filled with sand and stacked into a structure for bird watchers. While staying there my fellow travelers and I filled as many bottles as we could for the Eco Park to use in building their bird hut. Somehow the service turned into a competition between many of my classmates as everyone tried to fill their bottles with sand first. Employees at the Eco Park would check our finished bottles and beat them against the ground to pack the sand in, before sending us back with the newly exposed extra room. I never imagined it would be so hard to completely fill a bottle with sand but every time I thought I was finished the bottle would be shaken until more space was exposed and I had to go back to the sand pit and fill it up some more. The whole experience was very fun as we all raced to fill as many bottles as we could while Bram, Anna, and Leitzel looked on.
This year, like the past three, I spent my fall weekends refereeing soccer games at the Con-Edison soccer field. The recreational youth league, organized by manhattan kickers soccer club, ranged in ages of U8 to U16. I luckily had the opportunity to interact with all of the athletes. Not only did I enjoy being surrounded by my favorite sport, but I also discovered a greater appreciation for the rules and officials of any athletic event. Another personal benefit from this experience is the joy of helping other people experience and enjoy soccer, a sport that I have played since the age of four. I’d like to give a special thank you to Karen Feuer for this wonderful experience.
Every year at Friends, the school creates bags for Gods Love We Deliver. Gods Love We Deliver is an organization that delivers food to those who are too sick to cook or shop for themselves. As a way to show that there are people out there for them and to put a smile on their faces, Friends decorates bags that will be given to those involved with the organization. They receive the bags over the holidays and hopefully it brightens their day. Eighth period one day in December, my entire grade decorated bags. Everyone in school was involved and it really brought the community together. After the decorating was over, all the beautiful bags were hung on the ceiling of the meeting house. It looked very pretty and the tradition of the community decorating bags and then hanging them is something I really enjoy about Friends.
My YPI group that consisted of Ashley, Edie, Esme and Bryan researched and worked on the social issue of teen pregnancy. We chose this issue because we wanted to help kids in the city and we wanted to combat an issue that involved families. We chose to research and visit Covenant House. Covenant House is a rather large organization that focuses on harboring and helping homeless youth across the United States but there are also some branches of the non-profit organization in South and Central America. The branch of Covenant House in New York City is on 42nd street, but we just focused on the Mother-Child branch of Covenant House that is on 51st street. This branch of Covenant House is much smaller, with a much smaller annual budget than the whole non-profit. Nevertheless, Covenant House was very nice, felt comfortable and safe and it was very providing for the girls who were staying there.
Going into the YPI project I thought that any organization that we chose to visit would have the same out-look on teen pregnancy, and I thought that out-look or mission would be to stop teens from getting pregnant and preventing sex and pregnancy. However, the Covenant House’s first priority was not to prevent pregnancy but to help and support teen mothers after they are pregnant and if they already had a baby. Also, since Covenant House is a Christian organization, they cannot ask the mothers or other teens to use birth control or contraceptives. Nevertheless, I was still very surprised and moved about how the organization respected the girls even after the girls had made the mistake of getting pregnant and how the organization raises the girls up with hope instead of breaking them down with guilt. Furthermore, I am not a very comfortable public speaker, so I thought the presentation in the meetinghouse helped me work on those skills. Also, going to the Covenant House with my group made me get closer with them and gave me a sense of leadership and independence. I thought the project was both rewarding and challenging. It was challenging because getting the presentation together and finding a way to meet with our entire group was hard for many of us have tough schedules during the week and weekends. However, the project was very awarding because after we presented in the meetinghouse, I had a great feeling that we gave the project and the presentation all our effort and we had a profound effect on everyone we were presenting to on our social issue.
Over spring break I traveled to China with a number of other students and teachers. We visited three schools, Beijing #4, the Dandelion School, and Suzhou SIP. The Dandelion School is a middle school in Beijing for kids of migrant workers. Millions of workers move around China looking for work, and many come to large cities such as Beijing. However, because of their jobs, it is often hard for them to take care of their children during the week while they are working. The Dandelion School was set up to help these kids get a good education and be cared for. We got to do activities with the kids there and try to talk to them, despite the language barrier. It was interesting to hear about how the kids were from all over China, and their parents had come to Beijing for work. We also got to do some fun activities that we planned to do with them and interact with these kids and see how different their experiences and culture was, although we had some commonalities. It was really great to see that there were successful organizations tackling this problem that is huge in China.
Later in the trip we went to Suzhou SIP, a large high school in Suzhou, where we participated in an urban issues colloquium. We showed short videos we made about certain urban issues that we had in New York, and they gave presentations about different cities in China. Then we had a discussion about the issues we all experienced living in cities, and it was interesting to see that we had many of the same issues, but had different views on them. We then got to know some of the kids and talked a lot to them about the differences and similarities between China and America.
For one of my outdoor service activities I cooked for the Friends Seminary Homeless Shelter. Me and my friend cooked chicken for dinner and chcolate chip scones for breakfast or desert. Cooking for the shelter was very rewarding because I felt that I was helping a community that I am really connected to in that there was an orginization that was available right in the school comunity. Friends Seminary is my school so I was more than happy to help in the shelter. This experience was also rewarding because I was able to hone my cooking skills. I am not the best cook but any time I am able to pick up and learn a new skill I am happy to take on the challange. The Friends Homeless Shelter was not a big part of my life before I did this service opportunity. In fact, I did not even know it existed until my friend told me to do some cooking for them. When I found out that Friends ran a shelter I was overjoyed to be a part of a community that was so active in serving the larger community. I was also glad that this type of service was so readily available, making it easy for everyone to help out. I had a great time cooking for the shelter this year and hope to continue my involvement in the future.
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, I went with my father to the Yung Wing School in Chinatown for the Yale Day of Service. While there, we performed tasks such as garden beautification and organization of the library. Although the organization of the books was occasionally tedious, it was nice to know that it was for a good cause, helping in the students’ education. Although I don’t know how long the organization lasted, I imagine some children were more easily able to find the books they were looking for, and hopefully they enjoyed and will continue to enjoy reading. I had the opportunity to speak with the principal of the Yung Wing School, and I could tell how much our contributions meant to her personally and as a leader of the school community. I hope to participate in the Yale Day of Service next year.