This summer I interned/volunteered with the Go Project. I was placed in a classroom with first grades starting the second grade in the fall. I was in the classroom with two student teachers, a teacher’s assistant, a head teacher, and 16 students. The majority of the students come from underfunded district one schools. I worked with the students in small groups or one on one depending on how difficult the subject is for them, and how well they focus in groups. I got the sense that these students were very dedicated to be coming to the Go Project for 5 weeks during the summer and on Saturdays during the school year. These kids really wanted to learn, and I really like that about them.They all had their ups and downs, but it was all about getting to know the students and why they might act out. I developed relationships will all of the students in the class. I really enjoyed my time with the students this summer.
As part of my service this year, I took part in an event that my mother helped organize. It was run by a small organization that goes by the name of Aresca, and in October they organized a cultural event that ran for two days in Maryland. The event was celebrating the cultures of the peoples of mostly southern Senegal who mostly live in Ziguinchor (Sometimes referred to just Casamace) and Bignona (there are additional places I am not mentioning). The fundraiser was to raise money to send medical supplies to hospitals there with a focus on mammograms, so that breast cancer can be detected and treated early. It was a really great event that celebrated a number of peoples who reside in that region of Senegal. A great diversity of people came to celebrate their cultures and have fun.
This year I was on the leadership team for the organization of Day of Concern. I orginally thought that it was just the school trying to tackle just race and diversity within Friends Seminary. That is until the first meeting that the group of student leaders had. I realized then that Day of Concern was about informing people about certain issues and problems in the society that we live in. Though, I didn’t know any speakers that could come to Day of Concern, just the fact that Day of Concern included issues that students felt were important in our society made the day worth organizing and attending.
I personally attended the workshops about identity, race and the police, and also about fracking. I enjoyed all three workshops and felt like I was learning something new and being more aware of the problem. The diversity of the workshops and the choosing power given to students, in my opinion, made Day of Concern really amazing. That along with the fact that the speakers were awesome.
YPI Service Day Reflection
Leading to Service Day, the class of 2017 to part in a project in which teams of 3, 4 , or 5 choose a social issue that is prominent in New York City and then choose a nonprofit organization that addressed that issue in New York City. I researched the often overlooked issue of immigration in NYC. The problem is not that there are a lot of immigrants in the city, its that they are less likely to find success if they can’t speak the language or have any connections in the city. I learned that immigration is in the top five issues in NYC that people tend to overlook. There was very little information on immigrants online which shows that they are overlooked. Finally, we came across the nonprofit Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK), with encouragement from Leitzel, we decided to make it the nonprofit of our choice. At first, we didn’t exactly get much information from the website.However, when we went to a site visit, we got much more confident of our nonprofit. The site visit really convinced me that with maybe a bit more effort from New Yorkers we can help immigrants find stable jobs and create a stable lifestyle. All in all, this project was a very eye-opening experience and fun too.
Before actually researching about immigration in NYC, I wasn’t really aware of exactly how many immigrants were in the city. I knew that NYC was very cultural diverse but did not know that immigrants actually made up about 3 million of our population. I guess I started to be less naive to the struggles that immigrants face when they come to a foreign place. Over the course of this project, I started to develop communication skills and collaboration skills because before this project I was a very “pro-do your own work” person because of my distrust of everyone in a group doing equal work. Connecting with my group members and the nonprofit itself was very challenging; however, we got to learn more about the this social issue so often overlooked. It turns out that just referring an immigrant to a job helps. So you can help by volunteering at HBK or just helping immigrants find jobs.
I had heard on the news that 9/11 was a National Day of Service to commemorate the events of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City that left many dead and some missing, however, after nearly two decades, I never had actually acknowledged their lives by my own participation in this national event. That is, until Sunday, 9/15/2013. Every year, for incoming freshmen and their parents, Friends Seminary organizes a 9/11 Day of Service event. On that Sunday, both Friends Seminary parents and 9th grade students begin the day with a communcal breakfast and then we’re divided into groups that volunteer with partner nonprofits. My group worked with Dorot. Following an informative Orientation at their headquarters, we delivered food to the elderly who either live alone, or with a caretaker and had a chat with them for about an hour. This was a great opportunity to get to know other incoming freshmen, while at the same time giving back to the community.
We delivered food to Mrs. B, someone who actually witnessed the attack, when the planes purposely and suicidally crashed into the World Trade Twin Towers. She had been a front line witness in the event that devastated New York and a part of its glory. She had a caretaker and two daughters and a grandson, who did not live with her. It was her nephew that lived in New York City, visited her once a week and called every night. She was very, very interesting, even if there were times of awkward silence. I mean I’m not really what people would consider a social person, but along with my mother, Zara, and her mother, we made a great group. I learned a lot about the troubles she has nowadays, where she originally came from (Germany), and why she doesn’t go outside so much nowadays (she has to take a wheelchair, which is not compatible with sidewalks of New York City). She had a beautiful apartment, but it was clear what she lacked was contact with other people. It took so little to give her that social interaction she so clearly needed. During this day of volunteering, I felt connected to my fellow students, the school community, and Ms. B. In many ways, I benefited as much as Ms. B from the experience.
To all those lives lost and all of those that were destroyed, know that you are forever remember in the hearts of all those that know of the 9/11 attack.
-Fatoumata Mbaye, Class of 2017