This past year, I was invited to the TEAK Fellowship on several occasions to help out with their HS Admissions. Having gone through the same process myself, as both a high school senior and a TEAK Fellow, I knew the importance of helping rising sixth graders gain entrance into the Fellowship and preparing rising eighth graders for the rigors of high school. For the former, I was required to oversee group assignments and evaluate each student on individual skill sets from leadership, to collaboration, to time management before giving them each a grade on several categories which would help aid the deen, advisors, and president make their final decisions on student applications. Helping rising eighth graders prepare for the high school admissions process by conducting practice interviews also gave my overheads valuable insight on the students’ strengths and weaknesses. I was glad to contribute my time to a cause that helped me in turn and I look forward to doing it again.
On March 21st, I had the opportunity to attend a finance literary workshop as part of a service opportunity to learn more about financial security. Having been part of an investment club for the TEAK Fellowship in which we were tasked with investing a $3,000 donation in different companies to maximize funding, I have found myself to be more and more interested in business and economics. Ever since I had failed to understand a single word of a business article in The Economist from my older brother’s stack of subscribed newspapers and magazines, I wanted to understand how money worked. To say that my short time at the First Republic Bank enlightened me with a superior understanding of the nature of cash would be ridiculous and frankly quite untrue since I still find myself baffled as to how I may start a day with 20 dollars in my pockets, buy lunch for 10 , a drink for 5, and end the day with negative 2 dollars. Nevertheless, attending the workshop and having the opportunity to speak with bankers, investors, and communication directors inspired me to learn more about stocks, markets, and why you should never register for those credit cards they send you during your first year of college. As part of the service requirement, taking time to explain some of these concepts to my peers, family, and friends also enabled me to “pay it forward” so to speak and I hope they do the same. Not only have I applied what I learned at the workshop to some of our business decisions in the investment club at TEAK, but I also hope to take that knowledge with me during my intro to business course at Columbia this summer. Despite being only three hours long, the finance literary workshop proved to be a meaningful and inspiring opportunity to learn more about a potential college major/minor.
This past Summer, I volunteered at the High Water Women Annual Backpack Drive held at the Credit Suisse building in Manhattan. High Water Women is a non-profit organization that educates, helps, and supports low-income women and youth. Each year, the organization donates backpacks filled with school supplies to thousands of children in need as part of their mission plan. At this year’s drive, I helped pack these backpacks, organize supplies, transport deliveries, and recycle boxes.
“Stewardship is a coming together of our major testimonies. To be good stewards in God’s world calls on us to examine and consider the ways in which our testimonies for peace, equality, and simplicity interact to guide our relationships with all life.” When reflecting on my service this summer, and really every service opportunity I have participated in thus far, this quote by Quaker John Woolman (c. 1770) really stands out to me. As students, teachers, faculty members, and parents of Friends Seminary we enjoy certain privileges many do not and we often take them for granted. Volunteering is a manner in which we are able to give back to the community and it is our responsibility to do so. Woolman claimed that in order to be good stewards, we would have to examine the way in which our testimonies interact. When I volunteered this summer at the backpack drive, I realized I was making an impact on the lives of hundreds of children. Being more privileged than the kids I was packing backpacks for, I knew that I was upholding the Quaker ideals of equality and simplicity. Providing kids with school supplies so that they may learn, thrive, and grow in “God’s world” is how I was able to nurture my “relationship with all life” this Summer. Understanding my service from this Quaker perspective showed me how unique of an experience it really was.
World History 9
8 May 2014
YPI Service Learning Reflection
When deciding what social issue we wanted to tackle for our Youth Philanthropy Initiative service project, we knew we wanted to focus on children. As teens, and very privileged ones at that, we realized we took for granted most of the things we grew accustomed to here at Friends Seminary. The YPI served as an opportunity for us to address a growing problem in New York City: child homelessness. By visiting the headquarters of the non-profit organization WIN (Women in Need), we were able to not only learn more about the social issue but also what we could do to help. Representing WIN at Friends and its increasingly successful fight against child homelessness enabled us to not only educate others but spread the word about what we as a community could do to help find a solution to the problem.
At first, my attitude toward our social issue and non-profits in general was ultimately apathetic. Whenever I walked down the streets of Manhattan, I never saw homeless children nor did I see as many people lying on the sidewalks. The problem of child homelessness almost seemed not-existent to me. But that was because I never actively took the initiative to seek out the hidden problems that plagued this seemingly utopian city. The YPI helped me realize that the reason I don’t see kids homeless on the streets when I walk to school or when I walk home is because non-profits like WIN have been combating the issue for decades. The progress WIN has made is evident in the numbers they provided us with: 2,000 children are safely sheltered in WIN facilities per night.
Participating in the YPI proved to be an eye-opening experience. By working with my group to research and present the social issue of child homelessness, I not only improved my presentation skills and public speaking abilities, but I also realized that we were making a difference by just spreading the word. Because of this I think the involvement of service opportunities like the YPI into our coursework is beneficial and necessary for us students. When attending service events, lectures, or programs, we tend to passively participate without engaging and reflecting on how doing so is actually making a difference. I believe the YPI can change this just as it has helped me change my mindset about social issues, service, and what we can do as a school to help improve our community.