Interning at Writopia Lab

Over the past few years, I have spent my time interning at Writopia Lab, an organization that creates writing workshops for kids ages 5-18. I have been in workshops myself since I was about nine years old, and once I turned 15, I began to intern there over the summer. For my senior year in high school, I interned every Tuesday afternoon in workshops with children under 12 years old to help them type, formulate stories, and edit their work.

Throughout the year, I have worked with various different workshops. The first workshop I worked with was particularly difficult, and I’m very glad that I was able to be there to assist the instructor and make sure everything was running as smoothly as it could. After that workshop, I switched around quite a lot, and have worked with a range of very young kids who can hardly type for themselves to kids who I have sat down and edited serious pieces with. Recently, I have been working with kids in second and third grade, and have helped one girl work on a long story about mermaids, and one boy on a few serial stories he’s decided to write about an adventurer. I am proud to see that, since I’ve started working with them, they have gotten much more excited about their pieces and have been increasing in technical skill very quickly.

I am so lucky to have found Writopia Lab. The hours I’ve spent there, working on short stories, poetry, and plays have made me who I am today. Writopia is a community of diverse, talented people who value the art form just as much as I do, and I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to help them during my time in high school. Furthermore, the children I’ve worked  with have inspired me as well, reminding me what it means to be a writer and how exciting it can be to embark on a new story.

Olivia Alcabes’s Summer Service

Over the summer, I interned at an organization called Writopia Lab. Writopia Lab is a space for kids and teens to work on creative writing with instructors, and to further their writing skills. As an intern, I helped out in workshops with kids ages 7-11. I helped them type up their stories if they weren’t comfortable enough typing, and I gave them feedback and helped them to foster their creativity.

Over my two weeks, I personally worked with about four kids, in workshops with about seven to eight kids each. The first week I assisted a girl named Nicole and a boy named Dasher. They each started off the week a little bit shaky. Nicole would write something very short and then get distracted, and Dasher only wanted to write about a video game. However, by the end of the week, Nicole was able to put her wild imagination to use by creating an entire world in which she wrote a story. Likewise, Dasher was able to use his love of character to create a new story that he created all on his own.

The second week was a little bit different, because the kids were younger, so I focused more on helping them learn how to begin and write extremely short stories, and I helped each of them type. I specifically helped a young girl named Ruwayda. By the end of the week, she had about five short stories that were about half a page each.

I really appreciated the time I had helping young kids to develop their writing skills. They remind me why I myself have a passion for writing, and they show me just how new and exciting it can be. I’ve interned with Writopia in the past, and I’ve gone to them as a student for many years. In the future, I hope to be able to intern at Writopia again.

Olivia Alcabes’ Reflection on Day of Concern

This year, I was really lucky to be able to participate in the Day of Concern. I’ve never really been a part of a day that was like this, having only been at Friends since last year and never encountering anything similar at my old school. I was really impressed with the different types of people that spoke to me and to my classmates. Each of them had their own unique and important topic, and when combined, everything fit together pretty much perfectly.

The first workshop I went to was hosted by a holocaust surviver. She spoke about her experiences as a child, and how she was separated from much of her family. The fact that she was there in person really made her story come alive, and even though I’ve studied the holocaust at other points in my education, I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to hear a story that felt so real. She was just like any other person I might see on the street, or around the school, and that was a perspective that I’ve never heard the holocaust story told from.

The second workshop I went to was a poetry workshop. We were able to read some poems and then used them as inspirations for our own writing. At the end of the session, the instructor recited his own spoken-word poem. He was really talented, and I absolutely loved it. What he really tried to broadcast was how poetry could be used as a way to get people to think about social change, and I could definitely see how listening to a poem like that could inspire anyone, including myself, to want to make a difference.

The third workshop was about transgender issues. The man leading the workshop told us about his life, and what it’s like to be transgender in today’s world. Even though it’s definitely difficult, his story gave me hope that it really is possible for things to change and get better. As a member of the GSA, I hear about atrocities that trans people experience often, but we don’t pay as much attention to success stories. His story showed me that, even though we still have so much work to do, there are many transgender people who are able to live long, happy lives.

I really appreciated being a part of the Day of Concern. The three workshops I went to melded together almost seamlessly: I learned about the holocaust, an issue from the past; what it’s like to be transgender, a social concern in the present; and about poetry, a method to encourage and change the way people think. I hope that the Day of Concern will happen again next year, and I look forward to learning even more about social justice and other, varying issues.

Olivia Alcabes – YPI Service Learning Reflection

Olivia Alcabes

Jamie Lieberman

World History 1

May 9, 2014

YPI Service Reflection

The YPI presentations, a service project in the ninth grade World History class, required each student and their team to research and work with an organization that dealt with a social issue in the New York City community. My team and I decided to research child poverty. We found out about ABC, the Association to Benefit Children, an organization that provides schools, activities, and programs for impoverished children and their families. We went to visit Cassidy’s Place, one of ABC’s schools. There, we watched preschool age children finish up their day at school. More than anything, I was affected by the way the teachers interacted with the children. Unlike I had assumed before researching into the topic, it felt very possible for these children to escape the cycle of poverty when they were given the proper education and help.

Over the course of creating and editing the presentation about ABC, I learned not only about child poverty, but about how to properly present information. Finding the correct bullet points to use and figuring out how to move as we presented was challenging, and occasionally made me frustrated. However, learning about the content of the presentation was extremely rewarding, and I found myself more passionate about the issue each time we presented. In the future, I would love to volunteer at some of ABC’s programs at Echo Park, located in East Harlem. The kids looked like they were having a lot of fun, and I’d love to get to know some of them.


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