Jason’s Service Reflection with Project Cicero

This past year I volunteered for a book drive with Project Cicero for the third consecutive year. Project Cicero holds these book drives for teachers who work at under resourced schools and may not have all the books they wished to have. Once again I really enjoyed it and still believe it is a great way to do some service. This year I was assigned to organizing books into their respective categories. The past two years I worked with moving boxes of books to the sorting areas and crushing old boxes to be taken down to the basement. Those two jobs were very rewarding in their own respect; however, this year was probably the most rewarding. We would organize books for about a half hour, and then the teachers would come in a take books for their classrooms. It was great to see my work directly making an impact in another person’s life, knowing that those books would be available for students and other schools to read. After the teachers left, the shelves of sorted books would be almost empty and I could really feel the impact that this book drive was making on school all across the city. Not only is this volunteer opportunity rewarding, but it is also a great activity to do with friends since you can work as a group and talk with them as you sort the books.



YPI Reflection

As part as the ninth grade World History course I participated in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative.  We had to find non-profit organizations in the NYC area to research, visit, and present about to my history class. Since I moved on to the finals, we had to present to the whole ninth grade and some judges to.  This experience has opened my eyes to the issues of mass incarceration and the generational cycle of incarceration.  My team worked with Children of Promise NYC which is based in Bed-Stuy and works with children who have a parent incarcerated in the prison system.  I learned about the affect mass incarceration has on the children involved and how CPNYC helps them.
Verbal and written communication were key throughout this process.  My team had to send a formal email to people we had never interacted with before.  It was very valuable to have done this and to get over the slight fear I had of it. Furthermore, we had to convey all the information we had about our issue and charity to our class in a PowerPoint presentation.  This also helped me get over a slight fear of public speaking.  When I was presenting to the whole grade I did not feel nervous at all.



Jane Acierno’s Second In School Reflection

On Wednesday April 20th I volunteered with Empty Bowls. In Empty Bowls we create, paint, and glaze bowls. The bowls are later sold to parents and community members for a dinner event. The money made from the bowls goes to charity. In the beginning, we watched a video about the mission of Empty Bowls so that we could understand what we were working for. There were more people than I expected at Empty Bowls: all high school grades were represented. I liked that we all talked as a group rather than separating our conversations by grade. I got to speak with people I would not normally speak with. I have also not had the chance to take more than one art class in high school, and I really enjoyed getting to paint. It was a creative and fun way to spend an afternoon, and I felt good because I was doing service. I hope Empty Bowls continues at Friends after Jack leaves because it is a good organization.

Jane Acierno’s In School Service Reflection

Me Playing the FluteOn December 10th, 2015, I volunteered with Music for the Ages, a school-based group that aims to bring music to communities that may not otherwise have access to live classical music. We volunteered at the LSA Family Health Service in Harlem. We played holiday-themed music like Jingle Bells and Sleigh Ride, as well as our repertoire for the Chamber Music Winter Concert. In the beginning the children seemed bored, but by the end they were singing along to the holiday music. They really liked when we played America from West Side Story. Afterward we had a small reception with the children where we got to talk to the kids about music. The children seemed to grow to like listening to the music, and hopefully we inspired them to continue playing music, or pick up an instrument.

Tikkun Olam

Earlier this year I spent a night in Albany with an organization called NFTY-NAR. NFTY is the reform Jewish youth movement in North America. NFTY-NAR is the New York Area Region of NFTY. As an organization it is teen powered and teen run and upholds the value of tikkun olam (repairing the world). As such, every year we run an event called Albany Advocacy Day, in which we spend a night learning about different social justice issues with relevant pending legislation. Then the next day we meet with state legislators about one issue we feel passionate about.

This year I chose to talk about economic inequality and the minimum wage. I encounter economic inequality every day when I walk past homeless people on the street. It is a tragedy and raising the minimum wage is a good first step to alleviating the situation. My group of 4 wrote a speech and presented it to Sen. Liz Kreuger, who is the senator from my district, and congressman Dan Squadron, who is the congressman from the district that includes Friends and parts of Brooklyn. Even though both already support raising the minimum wage it was a powerful experience to meet with the people that directly represent me in government.

Ainsley’s Service Reflection: Physics Review

When John, my AP physics teacher, approached me and informed me that he had selected me to lead freshman physics review, I was honored. I love physics and had been a peer tutor before; teaching and helping younger kids was something that I enjoyed. Little did I know that leading physics review meant seemingly endless disappointment. Some days, no one even showed up. Other days kids came but were reluctant to ask for help and I would hover over them whispering equations and laws when they were slow to remember them. But when kids came wanting help, Nick MarCus and I would talk through anything they needed. The amusing part was that AP physics and freshman physics have surprisingly parallel curriculums, so a lot of the time we would teach them as we were struggling to understand the same topics. Helping the kids understand something I am so passionate about was such a rewarding feeling.

Anna’s Service Reflection: The Chalk Walk & Street Harassment Art Installation

When we (the Service Committee, R.A.N.E., and Feminists at Friends) began our work, I think some people in our community didn’t understand why street harassment was something that we were even talking about. Why spend time raising awareness of street harassment when the world has bigger problems?

For the answer to that question, we turned to the men, women, and gender non-conforming members of our community who have experienced street harassment. We looked within ourselves and gave voices to experiences that, for some of us, were once an enormous source of shame.

Growing up in New York City, I (and most or all of the girls and women I know) experienced street harassment at a very young age– around eleven years old. And it’s not only uncomfortable, it’s scary. It’s scary when someone exploits your vulnerability and forces their image of you upon you. You may see yourself as a kid, but what happens when someone stares, howls, hisses, or says sexually explicit things to you when you’re walking to school? What happens as a result of the rape culture you’ve grown up in? Most of us blame ourselves. We think abut what we were wearing or how we were walking, when in reality we are not to blame at all.

The Chalk Walk and the Art Installation were both successful in many ways. The Chalk Walk brought together a group of students to spread a message of respect across the neighborhood. We wrote phrases of our own making and phrases suggested by Hollaback! (an international anti-street harassment organization). Some included: “MY DRESS IS NOT A YES” and “MY NAME IS NOT HEY BABY.” The Art Installation in the Quaker Library provided an important physical space to safely meditate on an issue that, by nature, is rooted in discomfort and an absence of a sense of safety in public spaces. The photographs, text messages, poetry and audio recordings of personal stories from the community were all very moving. I felt extremely lucky to be part of both of these projects.

Empty Bowls

Just last week I had the opportunity to participate in Empty Bowls. Empty Bowls is a club in which people make, paint, and glaze bowls that are then sold at a large dinner/ice cream event in the spring. All of the money made off of the bowls goes to charity to help end world hunger. I had a great time at Empty Bowls, I spent most of the day painting and glazing, and it was great to get the chance to work with clay pots again, I hadn’t since I was in lower and middle school! Plus, Jack did a great job of leading the club, and I learned a lot about the club and what it stands for. People of all skill levels participated in making, painting and glazing the bowls, and there were some very creative and professional looking ones as well. In fact, some of them had been made so they could be painted in two different colors, using a technic in which one would paint one layer, wipe it off and leave some in the cracks, and then paint another. Empty Bowls is great because it not only raises money for charity but also allows for creativity. I look forward to seeing Empty Bowls’ success once the bowls are sold.

Nick Markus’ Service Reflection

On The Importance of Physics, determination, and a good sense of humor


Back in the beginning of the year, everything seemed fresh. The year got off to a good start, I had the limitless possibility of college before me, and those senior facing benches made me feel ever so slightly superior to everyone else (as If I ever needed help for that!)

There was only one grim specter over my head: I had to lead robotics. The club was my life for 3 years, and when the seniors of last year left (4 in total) we were left with only 3 people. Then the other 2 quit. It all seemed desperate, but at the last moment, in my eleventh hour, I stood up in meeting for announcements and made the greatest announcement of all time!
“Come tomorrow and learn the nuts and bolts of robotics!”    Thunderous applause

Tomorrow came, I waited in room 404, and nobody showed up. I was crushed, the club remained on my CommonApp (I needed every boon I could get!), but it no longer remained in existence.


Weeks if not months later, my physics teacher, John Garnevicus, Asked my classmate Ainsley Cass and I to announce and host a freshman physics review session.

Our announcement warranted less genuine laughs than pained groans as we attempted to make a physics seem fun and cool. The next day, only a few kids actually showed up to physics review.

Still, we were not to be discouraged. Again and again we made cheesy announcement after cheesy announcement, and unlike that tragedy of robotics, people came.

I mentioned robotics because I think there was a key difference between physics review and that ill fated club. The difference is that unlike with robotics we never gave up trying. In the end, I think Ainsley and I have genuinely helped a few freshmen understand and comprehend physics. And if our annoyance and persistence helped a single person, it was worth it.

Around the World Day

This year, I worked at Tsejin Bhotia’s booth for Around the World Day.  Tsejin is Tibetan-American and is incredibly passionate about her culture and Tibet’s liberation from China’s oppressive rule and invasion.  She works with Students for a Free Tibet, and the entire event Around the World Day was centered around raising awareness and money for the organization.  At her booth, I helped sell merchandise from the organization, and I also asked students and faculty to sign petitions to free Tibetan political prisoners who have been wrongly abducted or imprisoned by the Chinese government.  I have always been aware of the situation in Tibet, and working at the booth was a good way for me to gauge how much and how little I know about what is going on right now.  Some students had no idea why Students for a Free Tibet even exists, and I explained that Tibet has been struggling for its liberation since the mid-Twentieth Century.  However, hearing Tsejin talk about the situation I realized how little I really know about the history of the struggle.  She explained that in relation to other oppressed countries, Tibet is more oppressed than North Korea.  However, China tries its hardest to give off the impression that Tibet is part of China and that nothing wrong is going on in the region.  In reality, China is trying to erase Tibetan culture, and will imprison anyone who advocates for the country.  I want to help spread awareness about this issue that has been largely ignored by the international community and is not talked about enough in conversations about international human rights.  Overall, the experience was very positive and it was wonderful to see so many students and faculty asking questions and wanting to learn more about Tibet.