On Wednesday, February 3, I traveled with fellow students from Friends to the AFYA Foundation in Yonkers. We helped to sort and pack refugee donations for shipment at the AFYA Foundation. When we were there we learned more about the refugee crisis and the role the AFYA Foundation plays in supplying donations for the many refugees that are currently in need. I initially became interested in this event because it was during peace week, in which I took part in many lectures and discussions about the current refugee crisis. Also, because I was travelling to Paris with Friends in March, I thought it would be a good idea to participate in service for the refugees. I loved my brief time at the AFYA Foundation, and through all the information I gathered I truly comprehended the gravity of the situation at hand.
On Saturday, April 9, I participated with fellow students from Friends as well as other schools from other independent NYC schools in a Sustainability Through Student Voices Conference. I attended many workshops that informed me of critical environmental issues that occur on a daily basis and provided me with solutions on how to become more sustainable in my daily life. There were multiple guest speakers who also have taken many steps at their young age to promote environmental sustainability; they were able to share their message on the importance of sustainability through showing everyone the amount of time and effort that was put into enforcing sustainability. I learned a lot from this conference on how to become more sustainable and how to effect a change in my daily life as well as the daily lives of those around me manifested in my community’s becoming more sustainable.
For in-school service this year, I helped Geny make college packets for the Juniors and graduation packets for the Seniors. I sorted through packets to ensure that everybody would get one, and replaced sheets of paper that provided incorrect information. Although these tasks seem relatively simple, I had not realized how much time and effort goes into creating the packets. Every student needs to be given enough information about a certain event, like graduation, so that they are well informed and know exactly how and when the event will occur. I am glad that I was given the opportunity to help Geny, as doing so gave me a new perspective of how much work is needed to accomplish seemingly straightforward tasks. I learned to not take the process for granted; rather, I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped make the college process for me and my peers much more manageable.
As part of my service this year, I took part in an event that my mother helped organize. It was run by a small organization that goes by the name of Aresca, and in October they organized a cultural event that ran for two days in Maryland. The event was celebrating the cultures of the peoples of mostly southern Senegal who mostly live in Ziguinchor (Sometimes referred to just Casamace) and Bignona (there are additional places I am not mentioning). The fundraiser was to raise money to send medical supplies to hospitals there with a focus on mammograms, so that breast cancer can be detected and treated early. It was a really great event that celebrated a number of peoples who reside in that region of Senegal. A great diversity of people came to celebrate their cultures and have fun.
For my community service, I gave a tour of Union Square during alumni day. Everyday, when I walk to school, I pass through the Union Square train station. Before my tour, I never really took time to learn the history of the square. I wanted to educate the alumni. Me and three other peers worked to create an interesting and detailed tour of the historical site. The tour itself was one hour long, with multiple stops at a few of the many historical sites of Union Square. This community service made me realize how much history there is around us and that most people don’t take the time to really learn about their surroundings.
In September, I started volunteering to be a teacher’s assistant for Dance for Joy Ministries. Dance for Joy is my ballet school that I have been dancing with since the age of four. This year a new group of dancers, ages 6 to 12 have started taking classes. My ballet teacher asked my if I would be willing to come in on Saturdays, to help her with the class. I’m so glad I said yes because it was been one of the most rewarding experiences.
Every Saturday at 12:30 I go to Pearl Studios on 36th Street ad 8th Ave. One of the best things about volunteering to help is seeing all of the talent these little girls have. Seeing these girls learning their first ballet steps helped me to understand why my ballet teacher would have us practice basic skills like “plier” and “tendu”. The skills we learn when we first start taking classes set the groundwork that allows us to be able to become more advanced and perform more complicated combinations.
Additionally, getting to connect and joke around with the girls was really rewarding as it allowed me to be a role model. One of the little girls named Nyla said to me, “I’m afraid to move up to the big girls class. It seems hard. I don’t know how you do it. I’ll never be able to do that.” I smiled at her because I remembered feeling the exact same way. I told her if she keeps coming to class she would get better and better and before she knew it she would be dancing with the “big girls”. While I was an assistant I helped the girls with technique, make corrections, lead stretches and helped them practice their dances. I believe that doing all of these things helped me to become a better dancer because it allowed me to refresh and tighten up my technique as well.
I look forward to continuing to help out with the class and I hope to see all of the girls grow to be strong dancers.
I did empty bowls for part of my in school service credit. I did research on hunger and it’s effect on pregnant women. I made a presentation that focused on women in sub-saharan africa. Women in these regions are especially prone to malnutrition and disease because they often do not receive adequate healthcare or hearty food while they are pregnant. I shared my presentation with the group and also attended the empty bowls sessions where I made ceramic bowls.
For part of my out of school service, I did the AIDS walk in Central Park. I met up with the Friends team in front of the Apple store on 59th street. We headed in to the park and joined the hundreds of other people at the start line. I got split up from the rest of the friends team because there were alot of people and we were all walking at different paces. The whole walk took about 2 hours for me. At one point, it started raining, but everyone around me was pretty amped up and nobody seemed to care. It felt really good to reach the finish line and see all of the excitement and support shared by the participants and volunteers.
I have been involved with Kidz Theater, a non-profit teen theater organization, since my sophomore year and have had some of my most meaningful learning experiences there. Being a non-profit institution, KT’s revenue derives from ticket sales, classes, and donations. The professionals and kids alike who volunteer devote massive amounts of time and energy to producing great art and fostering an incredible, loving, supportive, professional, learning environment.
On this day in particular, all of the technical elements of the show that I’m in, “Legally Blonde,” had to be loaded into the theater and set up. Students from New Jersey, Staten Island, Long Island, and other locations made the trek, despite school and travel fare, to arrive at the theater and help focus lights, paint set pieces, clean up the dressing rooms, and facilitate the transition from rehearsal room to theater space. It was creative in both senses, as the show came together before our eyes. I learned new technical skills, became friends with more of the staff, and developed closer relationships with my fellow cast mates. People who weren’t even in the show came by just to say hello and lend a hand! It’s amazing how art will bring people together like that. It was a tiring, beautiful time, full of hard work, collaboration, dedication, communication, and selflessness, values that Friends has imparted on me throughout my years here and that I hope to take with me as I travel and grow in life.
A few months ago, I volunteered to take pictures of local dogs at the Stuyvesant Park Dog run. These photo were for a Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) calendar, sales of which would help to benefit the Stuyvesant Park. Arriving after school at the dog run, I and the other student volunteers, first introduced ourselves to owners of the dogs that were there and asked them for persimmon to photograph their dogs for the calendar. We explained that this calendar would benefit the park, and many of the owners were very friendly in giving us permission and inviting us to play with their dogs. I greatly enjoyed this service opportunity as it allowed me to become acquainted with some members of the local community and their pets, as well as being able to do something I love while having fun and knowing that I am making a contribution to our local community.