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.
On March 17, I participated in Around the World Day. I ran the India booth along with Gabriella Singh and Sahana Mehta. The main point of Around the World Day was to expose the Friends community to foreign culture. We were provided with food and drink that are commonly consumed in India; samosas and lassi, which seemed to be a big hit to pretty much everyone who came to Around the World Day. While telling others about India’s diverse and exotic culture was fun, I found the entire event more interesting as I went from booth to booth learning about the other countries on display. I thought it was great not only that foreign cultures were exhibited, but also that students within our community itself were so knowledgable about them.
Earlier today, I went to Studio 1 to participate in Empty Bowl’s event. When I entered, there were both regulars to the meetings and those who were new to them. Throughout the course of the couple hours I spent there, I glazed bowls that were previously and skillfully made by members of the community, and placed them in the kiln so as to achieve a final product that is both presentable and able to be used in the next Empty Bowls event. I learned a lot about hunger problems in the tri-state area thanks to Jack Lanzi, who is learned on the issue. Going to Empty Bowls today really motivated me to be more conscious about hunger problems both locally and internationally.
A few weeks ago, I went with my advisory to St. John’s Church in Brooklyn to work in the church’s soup kitchen. The first hour or two was spent lifting heavy boxes of various foods for storage for later use. Then, I went to work in the kitchen, cleaning dishes and trays after those who ate had finished. I haven’t had much experience working in soup kitchens before; I did spend a few hours working in St. James’ Church in Manhattan early in the year, but besides that experience working in the soup kitchen was a new service opportunity. The experience that I had, and I am sure my advisory had as well, was very fulfilling. The fact that we helped underprivileged members of society and gave back to the greater community of New York, within which we live, was very satisfying.
On Tuesday, April 29, I and the rest of my grade of sophomores partnered with Scenic Hudson for Service Day. Scenic Hudson is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley. We arrived slightly early to school that day, at 8 am in the Meetinghouse, and we sat by advisory. We were then placed into buses and drove off to Beacon, specifically, Long Dock Park, where we met the Scenic Hudson Staff and divided into working groups, once again organized by advisory. Along with a few of my fellow advisees, we took a long walk across a path, where we primarily focused on picking up pieces of trash and litter that was so carelessly left. Since there was lots of trash and it was a long path, the entire process of picking up trash took at least an hour or two. After the long walk, we headed back to where we first began, and had lunch with the rest of the grade nearby. After lunch, we went back to work, this time raking leaves and cutting branches. It was slightly less organized after lunch, and I split up to work with fellow students outside my advisory. After a couple of strenuous hours of work cutting branches and raking leaves, we all left Scenic Hudson and returned to school.
I had lots of fun during Service Day. I found that doing community service can be fun and all you need is a positive mental attitude for it to be so. I had lots of fun talking with a bunch of other students I don’t often talk to, and also with some of my fellow advisees. It seemed as though once our grade worked as a community to accomplish multiple and various tasks at hand, nothing could prevent us from doing so. Service Day was a great experience for me and I look forward to participating in it next year.
A few weeks ago, I participated in Friends Seminary’s annual Big Fat Service Day. I had lots of fun working with students of all ages at the school, from Seniors to 4th graders. I started in the morning with preparing meals for guests of the Friends Shelter, as well as coloring birthday cards for God’s Love We Deliver. Then there was a half-hour break for lunch; however, I did not feel as though I was in dire need of nutrition, so a few seniors and I decided to go and make rainbow loom bracelets. At first none of us had the slightest idea of how to do make these bracelets; however, with the help of the rest of the community (middle schoolers and parent chaperons), we were able to make a total of 56 bracelets. I then went down to the ceramics room, where a bunch of people were making pottery bowls for Empty Bowl’s anti-hunger event that would take place later in May. I had taken ceramics as a visual art during this year’s first semester, so I was pretty experienced in making bowls, and continually sought to help out with much younger kids who were eager to make them. While of course I at first would not have considered service at Friends to be the ideal way to start a Saturday, I had lots of fun and learned a lot from the day. I realized how effective and efficient working as a community is, and how fun it can be to do service and help out others who are not as privileged as us.