When I started the YPI project I did not know that much about the topic that I was doing of criminal justice. While doing research for my presentation I found out so many things that I never new and would have never believed were true. Some of the statistics that we found were really surprising and some I just couldn’t believe. Doing the YPI project has really made me want to do more to help this issue.
The thing that I found most challenging about the project was the presentation. I think this was hard for me because I am not a good public speaker so I don’t feel very comfortable presenting in front of a big group of people. Even though I feel this way it probably would have been cool to present in front of the whole grade.
Over the course of the YPI, I think my skills at working with others improved greatly. I think that my group divided the work of the project very well among us, with every member playing a part, but none of us dominating the rest. I think that our caring about the issue brought us together and allowed me to have enough confidence in others that we could put forth a product that was really the result of the hard work of all of us. Service really helped to bring us together this year and I am grateful for that.
I thought that the hardest part of this project was making sure we kept working on it, as we were doing numerous other things in History class and other classes. Stretching the project over a long time meant that every time we went back to improve on it, we had to remind ourselves of everything we had done before. For me, the site visit was the most rewarding part of the project. I really enjoyed getting to see the boats and environmental projects that the teens at Rocking the Boat were working on and how dedicated they were to the issue, and though I am disappointed not to have won the grant for our organization, I think that I learned some very valuable things while working towards that goal.
I am so glad we did YPI this year. I feel that many people know of Planned Parenthood, but not many are very educated on it. Even though we did not win, I am so glad to have researched it so much. We got a chance to educate our whole grade on Planned Parenthood, from clarifying they do more than just abortions (a common misconception) to letting them know of PP’s texting program which many of our classmates could use. Also, if people ask me about PP in the future, I will be able to answer them. That is something I can carry with me for the rest of my life. I also learned how to determine if a charity is trustworthy- by going not just to their website, but to their 990. Though Leitzel ended up helping us get our first site visit set up, it was still a valuable experience to practice calling, emailing, and coordinating with a big organization. Though one usually has to be older than I am to volunteer with PP, I would like to stay connected and volunteer as much as possible. I was lucky to be in a group with two girls who cared about this issue as much as I did. We bickered a lot throughout the process, but it was because we were all busy and stressed but wanted our presentation to be the best it could be. At the end of the day, we were a strong team, united in our goal and passion.
The other members of my YPI group (I took the photo).
My YPI group chose the East Harlem Tutorial Program for our charity. They work to combat college inaccessibility and tuition rise. My YPI group originally wanted to focus on a different topic, but we eventually decided on college accessibility and tuition. Since it wasn’t our first choice, it felt at first like we were just settling for the next-best topic, but we quickly grew to appreciate the complexities and details of our issue. I had wanted to do a topic that focused on people and their feelings, so I was kind of dispassionate about college accessibility, an issue focused on money. However, over the course of the YPI project, I grew to see the effect that college accessibility has on young people, and I became more passionate about it. I realized that one of the reasons I felt so uninterested initially was my own privilege. Being able to afford college tuition has never been a prominent issue in my mind, as my family has fairly high socioeconomic status. Working on the YPI project really opened my eyes to what an issue college accessibility is. Researching the long- and short-term effects of college tuition rates was especially rewarding, as it really demonstrated to me the practical and emotional issues that stem from the rise of college tuition.
Over the course of working on this project, I not only learned a good deal about my social issue (poverty in NYC), but I have also become more passionate about it. Working on this has made me more aware of how much of an issue poverty is for our city. Therefore, it has compelled me further to help others combat the issue of poverty. I was especially moved to help combat this issue after working with our non-profit, the Bowery Mission, to serve breakfast to the homeless during our site visit. Although it was very enjoyable to interact with all of their clients, it was sad to see that we were only permitted to serve each client a specific amount of food even if they asked for more.
Working on the YPI project, my communication skills developed in a variety of ways. As this was the most major group project I have ever worked on in my academic career, my skills when it comes to collaboration have gotten better. Interacting with the employees and clients of the Bowery Mission during my site visit has also significantly bettered my communication skills. However, I think presenting has benefited my communication skills most of all. Before the YPI project, I was deathly afraid of public speaking, no matter the size of the audience. Although I wasn’t thrilled about moving on to the finals, since that meant speaking in front of even more people, I began to realize that it wasn’t really that bad during my presentation and in fact, pretty fun.
Bowery Mission Website: https://www.bowery.org
While working on the project, it was especially difficult for us to get ahold of our charity, the Fortune Society, to speak with them about arranging a time for our site visit. It was challenging to find a time in which all of us could meet up with them to interview them about what they do and how the non-profit is run. Because of our busy schedules, only two of the four people in our group were able to go, but we all collaborated on composing questions to ask. Even though we did not make it into the finals, It was still rewarding when we completed our site visit with the Fortune Society and learned about what they do. Making phone calls and writing emails with my group also helped develop my communication skills. In the process, we learned how to introduce ourselves as students representing Friends Seminary, and our mission statement to our charity. I found our work with advocating the Fortune Society really moving. While doing research on them, I referred to their social media networks, and I feel like that would a good way to stay engaged.
When my group members and I came together as a group for the first time, we were unsure how we would be able to combine or reconcile our different initial opinions of what innovation is. It was, initially, a small struggle to find a specific topic that was both a social issue and was something that we identified with. In our search for a non-for-profit that we found addressed a social issue and promoted or fostered innovation, we found Hope and Heroes (www.hopeandheroes.org). Hope and Heroes was a perfect find for us, as it both addressed the issue of pediatric cancer and searched for innovative cures, all the while trying to make the treatment process less abrasive. They make the treatment process less abrasive by advancing treatment techniques, helping the families cover their bills, and giving gifts to the children. By investigating this information and researching its impact and all that there is yet to do, I have developed a strong desire for change in pediatric cancer, even though I am not directly impacted by it.
Of my group members, I––mostly––was in contact with our contact in Hope and Heroes, Jeremy Shatan. This communication included introducing us, setting up a meeting, and everything in between. Through these (though relatively brief) communications with Jeremy, I think that I have improved my communication skills. I feel like the YPI project has allowed me to better my ability to convey what I mean to others better over the nonverbal media which is email.
Amelia, one of my partners and I are trying to organize events raising awareness to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). We are hoping to plan an assembly with a guest speaker as well as a bake sale during February of 2017 as February is FGM month. We are inspired to continue trying to raise awareness to domestic abuse as well as raising money for Sanctuary for Families, our organization. This project has really helped me realize the the importance of many social issues, from researching for my own project to listening to other people’s presentations. From researching about domestic abuse I have become inspired to keep on raising awareness to it as I’ve know realized the awful impact it has on people of all ages and genders. I think the YPI project is a really good use of time in history. It not only helps us as student connect social patterns throughout history but it also helps us bond with other students and make great connections with organizations.
With YPI, I was paired with partners Alexandra Skora and Amanda Liebmann, as we each shared a common interest in helping the disabled. We ultimately decided to focus on those affected by autism, considering that Amanda was close to a family with a child with autism, and also considering that my own younger brother has autism, himself. We decided on the organization YAI, helping the development of people with autism. While we didn’t make it through to the final round, I felt that the whole experience was rather new, eye-opening, and enjoyable. I am rather grateful for the opportunity as a whole.
While I do already know much about autism, there was still much information that I was unaware of prior to the project. The project helped me to research and discover this new information, changing my attitude towards the social issue. For instance, the specific statistic that one in sixty-eight children are diagnosed with autism. Last I had checked, the number wasn’t as severe, and the circumstances of the growing “epidemic” that is autism are slowly becoming more dire to me.
Communication skills were a huge facet of the project. For example, something as simple as working with my partners – whom I weren’t extremely familiar with beforehand – both challenged and improved my communication skills. Also, I found myself interviewing someone under legitimate circumstances for the first time in my life at the site visit, building on my communication skills. I found both of these experiences to be especially challenging. Additionally, we ran into some technical difficulties only a few days before our in-class presentations, causing us to lose most of our digital presentation. This was a big challenge which we were luckily able to overcome. In the end, seeing our presentation finished in its complete state was extremely rewarding.