For my Ethnic New York Ethnographic Presentation, I researched and presented on the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. Early on during research I widened my lens to Brooklyn as a whole because the Crown Heights area is a relatively young area in King’s County itself. Whereas the entire borough of Brooklyn, that was first its own city, was not settled that much later than New Amsterdam in the 17th century. Once I started concentrating on Crown Heights, I learned a lot about the early years of the neighborhood, even when it had two separate neighborhoods, named Crow Hill and Weeksville. As before these two, all the area had been was wooded forest even though so many other parts of Brooklyn were already settled at that point. Then, as I continued to research more modern times, some things I found out about the area not only surprised me but also garnered a reaction out of me. And lastly, the comparison between my experience walking around the neighborhood and talking field notes, and the history of racial tension in the area, was engulfing and interesting.
Over the summer, the entire Men’s Varsity Soccer Team went on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago for a week. However, we only stayed in Tobago because that is where our coaches, Warren Salandy and Sherwin O’neil, are from. While we were in Tobago we swam, journeyed across the Island, visited reefs and waterfalls, played three soccer games against good competition, and of course did days of service helping kids from schools on the Island. The three teams we played against were Bishop’s High School, St. Claire’s Coaching School, and the Tobago Select U17 team. We drew to Bishop’s High School, 3-3, we beat St. Claire’s Coaching School, 2-0, and beat the Tobago Select U17 team, 2-1. We enjoyed playing in these games because the opposition gave us good competition, and it was fun to compete against non-American teams. Furthermore, we gathered about 200 pairs of cleats for the trip and brought them to Bishop’s High School and St. Claire’s Coaching School. While were at both schools we trained with the players in a bit of a clinic, including technical, physical and a bit of tactical aspects of the game. Then, after the clinics, we would organize the cleats and let the players pick out a pair that they liked in their size. After all the kids had chosen a pair that they liked, we gave the rest of the equipment, which included some goalkeeper gloves, jerseys and socks to Bishop’s High School as well as the extra cleats. This was a very fulfilling experience because I have played soccer for more than half of my life and to see that these kids loved the game as much as I did when I was younger, and how much the game gave them joy made me feel so happy and proud for them.
This year in American History 11 my class did one of two tours. One of the two tours was taking kids who work with the Go Project on a walk around the area near the Grace Church School, where the Go Project holds their classes and activities during the weekends. The other tour of the two was an alumni tour for Friends alumni. This tour took place around the area near Friends instead of Grace Church. For both tours, students needed to map out their stops and organize a theme for their tour as a whole. Each tour was also restricted to one hour only. Therefore, students needed to strategize in order to be back to both schools on time. I chose to be a tour guide on one of the Go Project tours. We gathered at the Grace Church School at around noon and ate with the kids and introduced ourselves before leaving the Grace Church School on the tour. Then we toured for one hour some spots around Washington Square Park and returned to the school. The most interesting thing that I noticed was that the kids were interested in what we were showing them, they just needed some visual cues, maps or some verbal support to help them understand what we were teaching them. Overall, it was a great experience for me and I think the kids I worked with enjoyed it because it was different for them from a regular Go Project day when they would work as if they were at school.
Kofi Hope-Gund (Shin)
Working at Game Lab
For most of this year I worked as a volunteer at a place in park slope called Brooklyn Game Lab. I worked with many others, some my age and some older whom were getting payed. I also worked alongside the owner of Game Lab, Bob Hewitt, who I got to know very well. I would go to Game Lab from around three in the afternoon to around 6 in the evening every Sunday. I did this consistently from around the end of October to the beginning of April. At Game Lab we work with kids and help them build important qualities by teaching them games, playing the games with them and formulating their own modifications and sometimes the kids make new games of their own. Some of the many important qualities they build include respect for one another and for the counselors, they build teamwork skills as they have to work together a lot, the kids also learn a lot of patience from losing or not winning all the games they play, but they also feel success when they win in any of the games they play. I really enjoyed working at Game Lab for a couple reasons. It feels great helping kids get become happier after a tough loss in a game they played, and as a counselor or volunteer the kids respect and listen to you after working there for around six months, consistently. Also, all the other people at Game Lab are so kind and respectful including Bob, the Owner, and Steve, who partially owns it. I worked countless hours at Brooklyn Game Lab but I think I only logged around forty.
Acknowledgments: I worked alone.
My YPI group that consisted of Ashley, Edie, Esme and Bryan researched and worked on the social issue of teen pregnancy. We chose this issue because we wanted to help kids in the city and we wanted to combat an issue that involved families. We chose to research and visit Covenant House. Covenant House is a rather large organization that focuses on harboring and helping homeless youth across the United States but there are also some branches of the non-profit organization in South and Central America. The branch of Covenant House in New York City is on 42nd street, but we just focused on the Mother-Child branch of Covenant House that is on 51st street. This branch of Covenant House is much smaller, with a much smaller annual budget than the whole non-profit. Nevertheless, Covenant House was very nice, felt comfortable and safe and it was very providing for the girls who were staying there.
Going into the YPI project I thought that any organization that we chose to visit would have the same out-look on teen pregnancy, and I thought that out-look or mission would be to stop teens from getting pregnant and preventing sex and pregnancy. However, the Covenant House’s first priority was not to prevent pregnancy but to help and support teen mothers after they are pregnant and if they already had a baby. Also, since Covenant House is a Christian organization, they cannot ask the mothers or other teens to use birth control or contraceptives. Nevertheless, I was still very surprised and moved about how the organization respected the girls even after the girls had made the mistake of getting pregnant and how the organization raises the girls up with hope instead of breaking them down with guilt. Furthermore, I am not a very comfortable public speaker, so I thought the presentation in the meetinghouse helped me work on those skills. Also, going to the Covenant House with my group made me get closer with them and gave me a sense of leadership and independence. I thought the project was both rewarding and challenging. It was challenging because getting the presentation together and finding a way to meet with our entire group was hard for many of us have tough schedules during the week and weekends. However, the project was very awarding because after we presented in the meetinghouse, I had a great feeling that we gave the project and the presentation all our effort and we had a profound effect on everyone we were presenting to on our social issue.