Throughout the year, I worked with Katherine Farrell as a student ambassador helping to arrange events, expand social media, and create more interaction between Friends students and Alumni. The largest and most significant task that I completed was organizing the 2015 Friends Homecoming panel for the seniors. Jada and I worked closely together to select Friends alumni who could share with the senior class their experiences moving from college to the work world. In order to select a panel, we sent out a survey to the senior class asking them about their interests and the types of professions they would be interested in learning about. The results of the survey showed that networking was the main topic of interest for the seniors. Once we had the topic, Jada and wrote emails to young alumni asking if they’d be interested in speaking to the seniors during Homecoming. Some of the alumni responded to these emails immediately, while others waited months before declining. This email exchange was entirely new for me and often made it very complicated to know our next steps.
After months of exchanging emails, Jada and I finally had enough alumni to speak about networking at the event. During Homecoming, Jada and I facilitated the panel for the seniors, taking turns to ask directed questions of the alumni. This experience taught me a lot about the challenges of working with alumni and arranging an event, however, it also opened helped me see that I liked having a leadership role in planning and facilitating the event. I look forward to working as a student ambassador next year and continuing to expand my understanding of development work.
Last week I completed my final chemistry project. This year all of the final chemistry projects were focused on a particular aspect of the Flint Water Crisis. I learned so much from doing this project about both chemistry and the dangers of lead. This project was comprised of several assignments that were either research or lab based, and it culminated in a final project about an assigned topic. These presentations were open to parents, teachers, and other school faculty.
My assigned topic was the health effects of lead. Throughout the research process, I found myself feeling incredibly thankful that my tap water is perfectly safe to drink. I thought that I could have easily been impacted by this crisis if I had lived in Flint. The thing that struck me most about learning about the health impacts is that they were irreversible. The thing that makes me sympathize the most with the victims of lead poisoning is that they did nothing wrong. Many of the victims had no knowledge that the water in their faucets was dangerous. Unlike smokers, who know that smoking causes many deadly diseases, there was no warning that the water might be dangerous until the damage had already been done.
This project has taught me to be aware of things going on around the country even if they don’t have a direct impact on my life. I will continue to be informed about this issue and pay attention to its progression over the summer.
This past December I decided to put my Arabic skills to use by participating in a neurological study being performed by Dr. Reem Khamis-Dakwar at Teacher’s College. The goal of the study is to examine the neurological functions of diglossia in Arabic speakers. Diglossia is the condition of a single community speaking two distinct dialects or languages, which is very prevalent in the Arab world, where the formal dialect is very different from the various spoken dialects. Dr. Khamis-Dakwar explained that her team is also studying diglossia as it applies to African American communities, where the rules of spoken language often differ greatly from the formal English taught in schools.
My job was to wear an EEG (see picture) and respond to various stimuli on a computer screen for a few hours. In this way she was able to measure my brain’s response to formal and non-formal, Arabic and non-Arabic words and sounds and then compare it to the responses of native Arabic speakers, who have a much more internalized differentiation between formal and spoken varieties than I would.
It was really fun to take part in the study, which I will likely return to in order to obtain more data as my abilities progress. I look forward to learning about Dr. Khamis-Dakwar’s results at the end of the process.
Getting ready for the experiment – the researchers had to put saline on my scalp so that the sensors in the cap could record electrical signals from my brain.
On March 21st, I had the opportunity to attend a finance literary workshop as part of a service opportunity to learn more about financial security. Having been part of an investment club for the TEAK Fellowship in which we were tasked with investing a $3,000 donation in different companies to maximize funding, I have found myself to be more and more interested in business and economics. Ever since I had failed to understand a single word of a business article in The Economist from my older brother’s stack of subscribed newspapers and magazines, I wanted to understand how money worked. To say that my short time at the First Republic Bank enlightened me with a superior understanding of the nature of cash would be ridiculous and frankly quite untrue since I still find myself baffled as to how I may start a day with 20 dollars in my pockets, buy lunch for 10 , a drink for 5, and end the day with negative 2 dollars. Nevertheless, attending the workshop and having the opportunity to speak with bankers, investors, and communication directors inspired me to learn more about stocks, markets, and why you should never register for those credit cards they send you during your first year of college. As part of the service requirement, taking time to explain some of these concepts to my peers, family, and friends also enabled me to “pay it forward” so to speak and I hope they do the same. Not only have I applied what I learned at the workshop to some of our business decisions in the investment club at TEAK, but I also hope to take that knowledge with me during my intro to business course at Columbia this summer. Despite being only three hours long, the finance literary workshop proved to be a meaningful and inspiring opportunity to learn more about a potential college major/minor.
Throughout this year, on every Day 8, I took a trip across the street to Stuyvesant Square Park to volunteer for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. During these trips, I replenished the doggy-bag dispensers throughout the two parks on either side of 2nd Avenue. Through this experience, I had the pleasure of experiencing what the parks I grew up in after school as a child looked like when all of the children of New York City were in school and the parks were just being enjoyed by the other citizens of NYC. Not only that, but I also met the kind Stuyvesant Square Park head Josie, who I would see every week or so on Day 8 as I picked up the doggy-bags from her. Although our short conversations never got farther than how cold New York was being even though it was April or when I have days off of school, they were some of the highlights of my day as I experienced just how kind a complete stranger can be to a high school student who comes to get doggy-bags from her every week or so. Not only was it rewarding to see how other people live their lives while I was in school, it also gave me a time of peace in my busy high school life to just listen to music and walk around a beautiful New York City Park and a time to catch up with friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while who shared that Day 8 last period free with me, as well. I have a newfound appreciation for the park I grew up in as a child now, as I now understand that it is not just a place for me and my friends to play manhunt in first grade, but a place where a community of New Yorkers come every day to enjoy a break from the craziness of their day-to-day lives.
This year, my chemistry class had the opportunity to do a semester long project on the water crisis in Flint, MI. We had an assignment every month and each varied. All of the assignments showed us how important it is to have addressed the problems in Flint and they all made us think about how we can prevent situations like this from happening.
For me personally, I was not aware of what was going on in Flint prior to our first assignment. I’m sure I would have learned about it regardless, but I am not sure that I would have actually cared about it as much as I do now. This project made me really interested in Flint. Because we covered a wide array of topics relating to lead contamination, I understand what is happening in Flint in a way I would not have had we not done the project. I would not have taken part in class discussions and hands-on learning experiences all about Flint. The project was extremely beneficial, and I am glad to have done it.
For my final Flint assignment, I chose to do a lab where I had to purify really dirty water. It turned out to be super cool and fun to do and it was a really nice way to end my year in chemistry. I was given water with garden soil, vegetable oil and some unknown chemical and from there I needed to make it as clean as possible. I was so intimidated by it but it ended up perfectly clear!
The water I purified before (right beaker) and after (left beaker).
Finally, we ended our project with a presentation to a fifth grade class. I was assigned to research the health effects of lead. It was really rewarding to be able to share my knowledge on Flint with kids who seemed genuinely interested. They asked so many questions and I think they got a lot out of their visit.
Moving forward, I will continue to learn about what’s going on in Flint, and I hope by sharing what I learned throughout this project I can maybe help make progress when it comes to situations like the one in Flint.
For my YPI project with my group, we decided to find a charity that deals with the issue of police misconduct. Our group found the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) whose mission is to stop police misconduct. Through working with NPAP and studying the effects of police misconduct, I learned the severe effects it has on people our age living in our communities. Studying the topic, my attitude towards police misconduct has definitely change positively. I have became more aware of the issue and what I can do to prevent it or help stop certain situations. By our class studying different social issues, I have helped my other friends from outside of school be more aware of these issues and take action in their schools. I have learned to be more aware of how I speak to police officers and how my actions reflect on them. I am grateful for this experience and hope to learn more as I go through life.
Last summer, I spent about 6 weeks working at the Go Project as a Go Getter. Everyday, I taught 6th graders science. I was a teacher’s assistant and we taught earth science. Many of the students struggled to understand some of the material, but we were able to help them out. Some of them would get frustrated with the work and throw a fit, but I learned to deal with them. They were also a lot of fun outside of class, like in our morning meetings, where we played games and got to know each other really well. We also talked about racial inequality, especially in education it he afternoon, which was enlightening to learn about. Lastly, I taught a 1st grade class in the afternoon, which was a lot of fun. overall, I learned a lot about what it means to be a teacher and I learned to be more patient.
This year I was a student leader on the 2016 kayaking trip. For the previous year I had been taking a class called “outdoor leadership seminar”. During that class, we learned the necessary techniques to becoming a good leader, and what it means to be leader. We also learned about different leadership styles, and various ways to help a group of people bond with each other. The trip is the capstone project for the whole year. Me and another senior (Altana) were student leaders.
I enjoyed the trip very much. It was a way to demonstrate practically all of the skills we had been learning academically the entire year. It was a very good way of capping off my experience being in the class, and demonstrating and using what I had learned. One aspect of the experience I found particularly difficult was keeping the group entertained and happy, something which was difficult in constant near-freezing rain which lasted the duration of the trip. One thing which surprised me about being a leader was that I felt prepared for being one. I had anticipated feeling completely out of my depth, a feeling which thankfully I did not feel while on the trip. I used a leadership style of being strict occasionally, and other times letting the group do its own thing. Sometimes people need strict guidance on what to do, but for the group dynamic to improve it is essential to give them some breathing room. I would say that this style worked fairly well. I plan to keep using this leadership philosophy, or something similar, after this trip.
From the students I learned how keep up a good attitude even when the weather conditions are horrible. It rained for most of the trip, and yet they seemed to be having a good time for the majority of the trip. I believe that peer leadership is effective. Since they see us as somewhere between peers and full fledged adult teachers, they do tend to listen to our instruction.
The activities I had planned were a mixed bag. They seemed to be having a blast with most of them, but one, a game where they had to draw a picture from memory, was not enjoyed. The biggest problem and unexpected obstacle was that the group got bored with activities much faster than expected, meaning that we had to quickly come up with new ones. In the future, I would rather overplan too many activities and not use them than plan too few.
I believe that as a leader I am good at explaining the methods behind what I am getting people to do. If you tell people “wear rain pants” they will resist because rainpants look hilariously bad and crinkle when you walk. If, however, I explain why they have to wear rainpants, ‘so your pants don’t get soaked, and because it will keep raining tomorrow they will not have time to dry out”, they are more likely to do the things that are asked of them. In the future I would like to work on coming up with more fun activities to help bring the group together. I felt that I was well prepared for my leadership role.
I really enjoyed my service for this year. I had a great time scorekeeping basketball games and it taught me a lot about statistics and officiating. I also learned a lot giving a tour for Kristen Fairey’s history class. It was a satisfying experience to lead tours for burrowing through the burrows. I enjoyed teaching the people on the tour about the area near Friends. I am looking forward to doing service next year.