The service I am reflecting upon is my gathering of information on the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for my politics class. For this class, we were instructed to study one specific subsection of each front runner’s campaign (e.g. healthcare, tax reform, environment, etc…) and create a page listing purely the information found from appropriate websites. This included scouring both candidates’ websites and reading several articles from accredited news sources. A major aspect of the project was trying to remain unbiased, as the mission of the assignment was to present as much information as possible and then have the reader decide on their own their stances. A very interesting part of this project for me was analyzing how other sources presented information, analyzing their unwritten biases and comparing them to the facts presented on each campaign website. Another interesting aspect was analyzing how each candidate presented their stances on certain issues, with one candidate providing clear and concise responses, with the other sometimes choosing to not elaborate on some controversial topics. This leads me to another part of the project that I found interesting, which was trying to present as unbiasedly as possible when a candidate did not provide information at all for a certain subject. This was a difficult task, and I felt as though I was constantly attempting to write with bias. I think that this project enabled me to further explore how important writing, and language in general, functions in influencing others’ minds. It also allowed me to view alternate perspectives on controversial topics I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so.
Throughout the year, I spent time working with children for the Prep for Prep organization to help them prepare for standardized tests, as well as help them handle difficult material. During these three hour sessions, I would meet with a student in elementary school, and they would bring books of the classes they are struggling in, ranging from reading comprehension to state exam prep, and we would sit down and go over problems. During these sessions, I learned a lot about not only the art of teaching, but also about how well I understood the material I learned at a younger age. Even the most basic functions such as long division, seeming simple to me now, were relatively difficult to explain to a student who didn’t understand them because it seemed to general to explain. This process of trying to explain very general topics made me not only appreciate my teachers from my youth, but I also sympathized with the children themselves.
YPI Service Reflection:
My experience in participating in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative was both a rewarding a challenging journey. The first process was to choose the issue and organization that we wanted to research. After a long process of discussing the various social issues that we found interesting, my group decided that all of these issues were part of domestic violence. At first I thought of the YPI as just some history project, but after researching the issue and visiting the charity, the gravity of domestic violence became very important to me personally. As we delved deeper into the very troubling and prominent issue of domestic violence in New York City, I not only wanted to support my charity as best I could, but I also felt a responsibility to contribute to ending domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. Often times, violence is not even known, because either the partner believes that they deserve to be mistreated, or they grew up in a household of domestic violence and have become accustomed to abuse and violence. Initially, I was very skeptical of how we could affect an issue so prominent that happens to 25% of women in the world. This was very challenging to me because I had to convince myself and keep telling myself that what I was doing was going to make a difference in someone’s life, and that even if we didn’t win, I would be exposing the problem that domestic violence is to the New York City community.
The process of researching domestic violence and meeting people who work at Sanctuary for Families was a very rewarding process for me. Sanctuary for Families is a non-profit organization that helps end domestic violence and sex-trafficking in the New York City community. Founded in 1984, Sanctuary provides a plethora of services to victims of domestic violence including crisis shelters, legal services, and early child education. When we visited Sanctuary’s secret location, I got to meet an actual philanthropist. She wasn’t working for a charity because she wanted to win a certain amount of money or because she was forced to do it for a class, she actually had a passion for stopping domestic violence. I guess I could say that that was one of the skills that I received from doing this project. I learned how to really care about something, and I learned what it was like to be driven by passion and the goal of changing the world. Not only becoming a more efficient researcher, or becoming better at making presentations, the YPI gave me a skill that I will always have: being able to make a difference in the community no matter how big it is. That was also what was so rewarding about this initiative, I became a better person, and I contributed to my community at the same time.
Acknowledgments: I worked alone.