This Spring Break, I went with a group of kids and chaperones from Friends to China. We went to Beijing, Suzhou, and Shanghai. While there, we performed community service namely within schools. In Beijing, the Friends group visited the school Beijing Number 4 in Beijing. We were brought into an English class and were asked to help the Chinese students to improve their English by reading and analyzing certain passages. This allowed us, the students both from Friends and from Beijing Number 4, to interact as regular teens. I shared certain jokes and exchanged WeChats with many of the kids there. They asked me a lot about life in America and I asked them a lot about their life in China. Despite the different cultures, it was interesting to see overlap in behavior. While in Beijing, we also helped out at the Dandelion School. The kids were much younger than we were there. While helping out at the school, we were instructed to prepare an activity in which we would teach the children an activity while speaking and interacting with them in English. In Suzhou, we participated in a colloquium with students from the school Suzhou SIP concerning urban issues.. I enjoyed all of the moments I had in China and I hope to visit the schools and the country again in the near future.
This year I served as an assistant teacher in Rochelle Itzen’s 5th grade flute class. I worked with the students one-on-one to help them improve both their technique and musicality. I acted as a second pair of hands for Rochelle so that she could offer every student a pseudo-private lesson during each class period. Over the year, I saw vast improvement in the kids’ playing ability and watched them progress through the entirety of Suzuki Flute Method’s Book 1.
We are in community each time we find a place where we belong and find we are needed. Peter F. Block
I feel like this quote really addresses my experience with in-school service this year. I’ve worked as a peer tutor before and I’ve really enjoyed it – the process of teaching another student taught me a lot about myself as well. I learned what it must be like for my own teachers to deal with the struggles of the student they attempt to help as I worked with my tutees to overcome the obstacles that courses presented. However, my position as assistant flute teacher gave me a whole new look at my place in the community. Flute is something that I really care about and that is a part of my identity. To be able to share it with a crop of young students made me see how to combine my love of performing arts with a passion for service – this was a job that was specially suited to my skills and interests. It was really rewarding to watch the kids learn how to play and even how to enjoy playing. And at the end of the year when they played the final piece of the book, the pride I felt made me completely forget that I was doing service.
On my spring break trip to Jordan, my classmates and I worked with an organization, Friends of the Earth Middle East, to learn about the environment and sustainability in Jordan. We got to see the effects of the water shortage in Jordan on our visits to the Dead Sea and the Yarmouk River. While staying at an eco-lodge, we spent time helping to make the lodge sustainable by filling bottles with sand and making a bird hut. There were many ways that the lodge was sustainable, like their compost system. A lot of what FOEME tries to do is raise awareness about environmental issues in Jordan, because for many people, there is limited understanding about the effects that humans can have on the environment. The service project was an interesting way to get to the know the country and we met some amazing people through our work with FOEME.
Over my time at Friends I have been a part of the yearbook. This year being an editor I had more responsibilities than previous years, and it was nice to be a part of a yearbook that is largely sections for seniors. We met weekly from the beginning of the year discussing our theme ideas for the yearbook, designing layouts, editing photos, and just about everything else necessary when making a book. It was much harder than everyone has assumed it would be, there are so many components that go into making a book that people don’t understand. It would not have been possible without the service of all the other editors, staff, and Triton. I believe that this service will have a lasting impact on the school and the trend for yearbooks in the future.
This spring break, I traveled to Jordan with the Arabic class. Our trip was focused on the water scarcity epidemic in Jordan. We met with FOEME, Friends of The Earth Middle East, and their NGO, Abdul Rahman, the human database. He informed us of his ideas and beliefs about the future of Jordan and how it will obtain water. We practiced events such as role play with different people involved in the water proportionment of that area of the Middle East. I learned that Israel and Syrian Dams are reducing the amount of water in the Yarmuk River, which funnels into the Jordan river. I enjoyed this trip so much, and I learned a ton about how Jordan is not receiving efficient amounts of water. I would like to thank FOEME so much for you information about the issue and the solution.
This Year I had the pleasure of helping to lead a 10th grade Ex-Ed trip. We visited the Beleayre Mountain Ski Area and learned how to telemark ski. Myself and my co-leader, Will, were given complete free reign as to how we would run the trip. Under the supervision of the Ex-Ed teachers we dictated every aspect of the experience from the feeling to the training. Having the time to impart some of the knowledge that I had gleaned from my Outdoor Leadership Seminar was a true honor. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to put these skills of leadership and teaching into practice in a real environment. I hardly noticed that our supervisors were there, as I was so immersed in the trip. My favorite part of the experience was that it took place entirely outside; I was in my element. Nature was my classroom, and; therefore, I was never at a loss for a teaching opportunity. It is so incredible to discover how much one can give to those around them in a teaching environment. Yet, more incredible still is how much that teacher can learn from those whom they are present to teach. I really loved this experience and will remember it and look back on it for years to come.
For my out of school service opportunity this year, I decided to lead a tour group consisting of children attending the Go Project. This tour was created by me and two other group members who did not participate in the tour with me. We created the tour based on the history of the schools in the area around Grace Church High School. Researching the schools like Grace Church, Cooper Union, and NYU was interesting because I learned a lot of new information about the educational development of the city. However, the fun part was actually leading the tour. At first, I was sort of nervous to lead the tour because I am not the biggest fan of speaking in front of large crowds. But, as I started to talk to the kids on the tour, I became less nervous and was having a lot of fun. Talking to kids from all different backgrounds was an interesting experience because it showed me lives outside of Friends Seminary, which I do not see often. Overall, this was a great experience for me because I learned a lot about other people and the schools around downtown Manhattan.
This year I had the privilege to participate and choreograph for Dancers Responding to Aids. I had the opportunity to incorporate my love of dance into helping and benefiting the great organization DRA. I loved being able to choreograph for the dance concert because I felt like I made a great contribution to not only the Friends community but the larger organization of DRA. Although we don’t get to directly come into contact with the organization itself, it felt good to be able to raise a lot of money to give them. I cannot wait to participate in DRA again next year.
During the third quarter, I participated in a service event, which helped Project Cicero provide educational materials for kids who needed them. For around 3 hours, i helped sort hundreds of books into different categories. It was a little strenuous at times; however, i found it a good way to do service in a relaxing way.
When I went to China for spring break, we went to a school in Beijing where children of migrant workers would attend. The school was small and in a very remote place within the city. When all of us went there we all had different tasks to do with the children. We played games, taught them some English phrases, and showed them music from our country. It was really nice because by the end of the day the children basically fell in love with us. We formed a connection with each other and I realized that service brings people together. We also did some chores there too to help out around the school.