Chelsea’s Summer Service Reflection

Over the summer I worked at an animal shelter called Bideawee in West Hampton. The experience was amazing. I got to work with cats and dogs. I got to help clean and organize all of the miscellaneous items around the shelter. Another one of my responsibilities was socializing the cats and dogs. I loved this! I would play with them for hours. I would get to learn their personalities. It was a lot of fun.

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One of my favorite parts was getting to see the new animals come in, then returning to find that they were gone because they had been adopted. I loved seeing the animals getting adopted as it made me so happy to know they were going to a good home. Bideawee does extensive research into who can adopt from them.   You know that when a cat or dog is adopted at Bideawee it is going to a good home. When I go back next year I hope all of the animals will be adopted.

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The one thing that stood out to me most was a cat named Matilda who had a feline affliction. I’m not sure what it is called, but it is caused from abandonment at a young age which causes problems in the brain, such as severe balance problems. Every time I walked past her room she would meow at me in a nice way, kind of saying, “Come play with me.” So every day I worked there I spent about an hour or more playing with her and helping her eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. It really made an impact on how I view cats now. Before I met Matilda, I thought all cats had great lives, just sleeping and eating. Now I know that not all cats are as fortunate as others. Next year I hope I will see Matilda again and that I will be able to have the same rewarding experience I did this time.

Sabrina’s Summer Service Reflection


At RDS the kids dressed up us in traditional Paho (the tribe most of them were from) clothing. The clothing is meant to look like a dragon.

At RDS the kids dressed up us in traditional Paho (the tribe most of them were from) clothing. The clothing is meant to look like a dragon.

Playing ninja with the kids

Playing ninja with the kids

Silly Group Photo

This summer, I spent a month in Myanmar traveling with Rustic PathwaysI was able to participate in a variety of service projects. While all the projects did have an impact on me, the most meaningful was the time I spent at RDS.

RDS stands for Rural Development Society. RDS operates a children’s home in the small city of Kalaw. Most of the children are sent there to have access to a better education. RDS was founded by Tommy Aung Ezdani, who even though I barely got to meet him, I saw a light in him that was incredibly special. He truly cares for each one of the children at the home. On top of that, he is also the head of the NLD (National League for Democracy) in Shan State.

There were several girls at RDS who were around my age. At first it was very awkward and communication was hard. I began rambling and hoping that they would understand some of the things that I said. However, true friendship began to emerge after I explained that one of my friends had accidentally touched our leader Dave’s butt in a game of ninja. From there, we sang and danced to One Direction and created a hand game for the little kids in which the losers had to dance. After my two days at RDS it felt as if I had actually made a connection with these girls and broken the communication barrier.

Amelia’s Summer Service Experience

This summer I took a trip to New Mexico to volunteer at food banks children’s camps and the national parks. The children we worked with were from the ages of 5 to 10 and were sent to the camp because their parents had long working hours. We worked with the kids from around 8 in the morning until around 5pm.  It was interesting to me how over the course of three days the young children became so attached to an older child. In this picture I am playing with one of the children named Jordan.



The children were very sweet and I had a great time volunteering with them.

Then, we volunteered in the Santa Fe National Park.  We worked on restoring trails, which included rolling grade dips to make sure water runs off the trail, moving rocks off the trails and removing teepees from along the trails that people had built out of tree branches and which were fire hazards. It was very hard physical work, but well worth it. I tried every tool and learned how to use them properly.  I also learned good outdoor survival essentials in case of a disaster, such as the 30-30 rule, which means that in case of lightning you descend 30 feet and wait 30 minutes before climbing back up.  Here are some photos of us working on the trail.

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I learned a lot doing this trail work. With trail maintenance, our guide explained that no one thanks you for what you have done, because they do not notice maintenance when they are walking, biking or skiing on the trails. But I got personal satisfaction knowing that I had maintained a part of nature that could then be safely enjoyed by others. I loved how at the end of our time working on the  the trail it was apparent how much we had improved it.

My favorite service work of the trip however, was working with two food banks, The Food Depot and Feeding Santa Fe. At the Food Depot we packaged food that would then be given to families who needed it.  We did this for six hours two days in a row and even though it should have been tedious work we made it fun and had a great and productive time.  The Food Depot provides food for poor individuals and families who can “shop” from the good that are available.  The next couple days, we had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to go to Feeding Santa Fe, a non-profit, volunteer organization that also provides food to hungry families.  It has been helping people in Santa Fe since 1979 and I was amazed at the dedication of the people who work there.  They give out up to 900 bags of food a week. We helped the volunteers at Feeding Santa Fe fill the bags that they would be giving out the following day. In each bag is two potatoes, two cans of canned vegetables, three pound bag of beans, rice, or pasta, one dozen eggs, a loaf of bread and any fresh fruit and vegetables they have that week. The next day we had to wake up at 4:00 again and go to Feeding Santa Fe to hand out the bags of food. When giving out the bags Feeding Santa Fe does not ask any questions, but just gives people the food.

Giving out the bags of food was the most meaningful part of the trip for me, because the recipients of the food were so grateful for what we did and it was such a personal service.  Often times there would be many children in the cars and we would give them milk and raisins.  Although I know the people were grateful I felt sometimes like they were embarrassed to be there.  One time, when I was giving a bag to a women she looked through it and began to cry. I was very surprised but did not say anything.  She reached into the bag and held up one of the cucumbers we had put in. She explained that she had wanted to buy a cucumber from the supermarket the day before but did not have enough money. This experience really stuck with me.  It clearly showed me how much this meant for the people in need, but also reminded me how lucky I am to not have to worry about things like buying cucumbers or any food for that matter.  This is something we should not take for granted!

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My summer service trip in New Mexico was a very special experience to me because I think that I learned an enormous amount about people and service and grew as a person myself.

Bea’s Summer Service Reflection

This August I volunteered for my second time at the East Hampton Public Library‘s annual children’s fair.  East Hampton Public Library hosts this book fair for the town to come together as a community and celebrate a number of authors and help support the public library.  This fair brings members of the community of all ages together, wether people are attending, hosting, or volunteering to help make the day special.  Apart from hosting a day of fun, the fair helps advertise local businesses that show their products, as well as show appreciation for the local law enforcement, such as the fire and police departments.

When I volunteered this year, it was one of the more memorable times I’ve had at the fair because I was able to volunteer with some of my other classmates.  I not only worked but got to get to know some of the people who I worked with better than I had before.  This was a great experience because you don’t only get the sense that you are helping to benefit the community you live in, but also have fun while doing so.

Arya’s Summer Service Experience With USC

Over the summer, I got the opportunity to volunteer with University of Southern California’s Neuroscience Graduate Research Program. During the summer, I collaborated with a team of research scientists at USC to help design a textbook cover on disease discovery and treatments that will be released in June of 2016. My experience working with USC was very eye-opening. It enabled me to understand the amount of work, dedication and passion nonprofits really have for what they do. I witnessed the amount of care and diligence the researchers had when creating this textbook cover with me which made me appreciate further the amount of care they put into their work. While collaborating to generate a design for a book cover, I made a series of different designs and covers which was then narrowed down to only a few. This experience taught me teamwork skills along with being able to take constructive criticism and use it to create a more successful end result. Being surrounded by so many accomplished, stimulating, caring people was truly inspirational to me and made me want to work extremely hard for them. I found my summer service to be very fulfilling because I was able to develop my interest in art, non-profit organizations, research, and science into one project. Additionally, I developed new skills by working with USC. I sharpened my research skills, furthered my skills in computer design (Photoshop and PowerPoint), and improved my public speaking and communication skills. At the end of the summer, I had to give a presentation to a group of scientists on the research I had done and the covers that I had created. Although it was undeniably nerve-wracking, it greatly improved my public speaking and communication skills.  By the end of the summer, I found a new sense of gratitude for non-profits as well as finding a new interest of mine that I care about deeply.


I’ve included these photos below that include the logo of USC but also photos of cells and molecules that I helped edit and organize for the textbook’s cover.

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Bailey’s Summer Service at the Central Park Zoo

This summer, I was a teen intern at the Central Park Zoo. I have been doing programs at the Zoo ever since I was in Lower School and always loved seeing animals from different parts of the world. All throughout my three weeks at the zoo, we made enrichment for animals. Enrichment encourages an animal’s natural behavior. The animals are interested in the enrichment and examine it. Some enrichment can be found in food form or involve a clever way to hide food. We made burlap braids for the red pandas and wove bamboo into it. We also got long pieces of bamboo and  rubbed mint and basil from the Zoo’s browse garden for the grizzly bears. Besides making enrichment, we had an hour a day to assist zoo keepers. We were each assigned two of the four zones at the Zoo (Polar and Tropic or Temperate and Children’s Zoo). I spent the first half of the teen internship in the Polar Zone doing fish breakout (weighing capelin and herring), scrubbing poop off penguin rocks, cleaning the fridge covered in fish remnants, and cleaning sock filters. We couldn’t take any photos because it is “behind the scenes,” where the general public doesn’t go. In the Tropic Zone, we cleaned hedgehog cages, chuckwalla enclosures, and helped the keepers feed the birds. On the last few days of the internship, we worked on our final project, aiming to educate the Zoo’s visitors about the Wildlife Conservation Society‘s new campaign to protect the NY Harbor, Blue York. We were split up into groups, and mine got people to write pledges on dry erase boards and then take a picture with it (Ex: I pledge to clean up my trash at the beach). Others got people to participate in trivia and had people sign a thank you card for the local fisherman who kindly agreed to stop fishing in an area with coral reef. I miss working with with the animals so much and really love the idea of educating the public about animals at zoos, making them fall in love with the them and support conservation efforts.


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Zara’s Time with GO Project

This July I worked with GO Project to help provide extra support to children who were falling behind in school, often due to educational inequity.  I worked in a classroom of students entering the fourth grade and helped to improve their math and writing skills.  We mainly worked on multiplication and division and how to properly structure a paragraph.

Working with GO Project was an extremely enriching experience.  I could see the change in my students abilities from the beginning of the program to the end.  Along with working with the students, I also participated in daily professional development sessions where all the student interns discussed issues in our society including educational inequity, micro aggressions, and how to make a difference.

GO Project works hard to fight educational inequity in our school system, and I enjoyed working with them this summer.


Natalie’s experience as a fellow at Robin Hood

This summer, I had the privilege of participating in the week-long Robin Hood fellows program. During this program, a group of students from around the New York area came together to learn from organizations working to combat issues related to poverty in the Bronx. We visited a number of sites including the Sustainable South Bronx, Legal Aid, POTS, The Food Bank, and the Children’s Aid Society to hear about the particular problems each organization battled in a hands-on setting. For example, when we visited the Children’s Aid Society, we had the opportunity to spend time with underprivileged pre-schoolers inside the classroom. The Children’s Aid Society implements a curriculum called Tools of the Mind which focuses on building children’s ability to plan ahead and self-regulate. Before participating in any activity, the young children had to first decide what exactly they were going to paint, for example, and write it out in words. Once they had their plan, they were able to creatively execute their plan. These preschoolers were less distracted and more calm than any preschoolers I had encountered previously in other classroom settings. On a different day, we visited the Bronx Housing court and sat in on a few court cases between landlords and tenants. In most cases, the often-non-present landlord had a strong lawyer and the tenant was left without representation or a clue about their legal dilemma, creating an incredibly unequal playing field. Legal Aid partners with the Housing Court to give these tenants representation and a better chance at winning their case. For the culmination of the fellowship, we split up into groups to create well-crafted presentations about the organizations we visited during the week for the parents and Robin Hood staff.

Rachel’s Summer Service Reflection

This summer, I shadowed a surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center during June and July. In addition to observing surgeries and clinic sessions, I was assigned a project in which I calculated the neutrophil to lymphocyte, 2 blood cells, ratio of patients in 4 finished trials. These patients had received varying doses of 2 immunotherapy drugs, ippilimumab and nivolumab. In this study, I was trying to find a connection between 4 weeks of blood samples and the patient’s overall survival. I am continuing my work on this project with a fellow, as we are writing a paper that will hopefully be published in a journal. The information and connections learned from this project may be the early detector of a patient’s survival, which would allow doctors and hospital staff to personalize treatment options efficiently.

During August, I was CIT a beginning chamber class at my camp. This involved helping the kids learn the music, grow as musicians, as well as giving private lessons to a camper each day. The camper, Myhe, I was assigned was ready to learn, trusting, and made the experience so much fun. I could not believe how much Myhe grew as a violinist during our lessons during 3 weeks, and seeing her respond so quickly to my teaching was really rewarding. I hope to be able to teach such wonderful kids again next summer with the same results of the experience.

Jack’s Service Reflection

This summer, I worked with the SPAT program in Southold, NY. SPAT bring together the community to help preserve the numerous species of shellfish that inhabit Peconic Bay. These species include oysters, scallops, and clams. People from across Suffolk County volunteer three days a week to care for these animals, who are vital parts of the ecosystem. Apart from working at the extension, homemade cages are built and distributed to all of the volunteers. These allow them to grow their own seed during the summer months. The SPAT program has become so effective that people have begun to harvest their seed rather then overpopulate the bay. This keeps the food chain in tact, while providing delicious shellfish for hundreds of families across Suffolk County.

SPAT Link: