For the last couple of weeks, I have been volunteering at the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In the evenings, I would help walk dogs along with many other locals who volunteer for dog walking on a regular basis. I have actually been going to the shelter for quite a long time because the owner is very close friends with my parents. Over the years, I have developed strong relationships with both the animals as well as the employees there. I think it’s really important for people to volunteer at the shelter because a lot of these animals do not receive the same care and affection they would if the animals had a permanent home. I was also very pleased to see the number of individuals who volunteer at the shelter consistently as it made me realize the dedication and awareness of my own neighborhood. If I was not walking dogs, I would usually clean the cages/containers or take care of the cats. I really enjoy going to the shelter because I think it’s very important for such animals to receive proper care before they find a family.
Over Spring Break, I travelled with other Arabic students to Jordan for ten days. We spent a good portion of our time there learning about the environmental conflicts that exist in the area through the organization Friends of the Earth Middle East. FoEME looks to further the management of water resources through a combined effort of Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. We spent about three days at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh Eco Park where the employees look to both maintain local habitats and increase public awareness. The organization’s work with local communities demonstrates the need of establishing a common vision. In doing so, FoEME is able to have an even greater impact on environmental policies within the region. However, true success can only be achieved once total cooperation exists across all borders. This lack of cooperation is the main reason why FoEME struggles with politicians and decision-makers in Jordan and surrounding countries. The water issues in Jordan opened my eyes to the severe effects politics can have on the environment. When limited water exists between more than one country, competition naturally ensues. It is important to strive towards maintaing balance between the said parties as well as the ecosystem itself. FoEME’s efforts and perseverance, when numerous politicians fail to acknowledge the problem, will one day prove critical in establishing mutual peace. I am glad that organizations like FoEME are working towards resolving the conflicts through a local and political approach, and I’m glad that we were able to assist the organization in its efforts.