Earlier, I volunteered to assist the physical education department. I got to interact with a class of first and fifth graders and help them organize their game of kickball. I also was able to help set up a dodgeball game for a third grade class. This was a really interesting experience because I got to spend time with lower schoolers and talk to them.
For service day, the tenth grade traveled to Westchester to volunteer for an organization called AFYA. We went to AFYA’s wear house and helped other volunteers sort medical materials that were to be sent to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief. We sorted materials that were deemed useless by the US medical standard (though they still would greatly benefit those in desperate need) and packaged them into ziplock bags. We also labeled these bags with the name and expiration dates of the materials they contained. This experience was made especially meaningful when AFYA’s coordinator reminded us that our hands would be the last ones touching the materials before they were to be used in hospitals to provide relief.
This February I volunteered at the Golden Unicorn restaurant in Chinatown for Chinese Lunar New Year. A friend and I were at a station where we counted how many small objects such as beads into a cup within a minute. Whoever won got a fancy eraser. While there I also learned more about Chinese culture. Also the food there was excellent. This experience will be a remembered one.
This year, I organized multiple service events to raise awareness for plastic pollution. One of my events was an Environmental Benefit Concert. I had performers from both in and out of our school community perform at the The Sidewalk Café to raise awareness for 5 Gyres Institute and Ocean Conservancy. We raised over $3,000 to split between these organizations. I found this experience to be one of the best in my life. I felt so powerful in using my passion to help the planet. I believe there is no better way to make change than to do it through love and positivity. I think music is a wonderful platform for that and I hope to do more of this work in the future.
My favorite service activity this year was working with my curation class to create the exhibit “X-Countries.” We compiled images of students’ ancestors who imigrated to America and paired them with stories about the family member. It was really amazing to see everyone’s stories, and I was happy to be able to help share these stories with our entire school community.
Early this year I went to the Rockaways with a group from friends for a beach cleanup. I have always loved the beach and have had a lot of respect for the ocean, my family being surfers and all, so I was happy to be out there potentially saving a turtle’s life. The day was beautiful and was a great example of how service can be so fulfilling because I got a break from Manhattan and was able to enjoy the salt air and sand.
This May I volunteered for Earth Matter, a non-profit that composts all of Governor’s Island’s organic waste. Our duties were to inform people where to throw their waste, either in recycling, compost, or trash, and to educate them such that in the future they know where to throw their waste. The event we volunteered at was Holi, the Hindu spring festival in which people throw colored powder on each other. At the festival, I was able to experience a rich culture that I had never been exposed to, while at the same time helping the environment by increasing the amount of composted materials, and decreasing waste produced. This service opportunity was a very enlightening experience.
This May, I volunteered at the school’s spring fair. During the fair, I worked at the bouncy castles area collecting tickets and made sure no one got hurt. It was a joy looking over the children as I had to interact with many of them. One interaction occurred when there were too many people in the bouncy castle. A child asked me why lines exist. I responded with a succinct answer to which the child responded with thank you. All in all, this experience was a good way to interact with children.
On service day this year the senior class listened to presentations given by ninth graders at Friends for the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative. The students delivered their presentations with enthusiasm and were very knowledgeable about the nonprofits they represented. They were articulate and thoughtful when answering questions at the end. I enjoyed learning about the different social issues addressed by the organizations. Overall, it was a great experience.
On April 7th, I went to the 11th Street Community Garden to learn more about where Friends’ compost goes and help with general garden maintenance. When I got to the garden, there were lots of Friends students already there, some were sorting wood-chips, some putting together a new shed, and other putting together a bench with a trellis. I started out by helping to even out a layer of sand where the new shed would go so that it had a sturdy foundation. After we had added enough sand and gotten it fairly level, we began to lay down bricks of different sizes, making sure they all were level and straight. It was nice to be able to spend time outside on a beautiful day, while also helping the community. I als0 live near the garden, so I was glad to be able to contribute to a space that would make my neighborhood greener and more pleasant to live in. Because of the lack of greenery in New York City, it is important to support local urban gardens. It not only betters the city but is also a great way to give back to the community while spending time outside.