Two Saturdays ago I went with Friends to the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC. I won’t say that waking up at 4:00am was fun, but it was definitely an interesting start to the day– I got to the bus during a thunderstorm. Once we got to D.C., I had a great time. I had totally forgotten how cool the city is, and the sheer amount of people who had shown up for the march was really overwhelming. Walking for hours under the sun in what felt like a million degrees was difficult, but it served as an appropriate reminder of what we were marching against. Ultimately, being a part of the enormous wave of people that flooded down Pennsylvania Avenue and then surrounded the White House was such an incredible feeling. Even though it was hard and exhausting, Friends had a great group of people and it was good to be reminded of how powerful people can be, especially when it comes to an issue as important as climate change. Overall, it was really an enlightening experience for me: I left my comfort zone (literally, by getting out of bed) and joined a movement that was so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done in my life before. I hope that I can continue to participate in organized movements like the People’s Climate March in the future and help to bring about change and improve the world, even if it’s just by a little bit.
In Epidemiology, my group was charged with finding a health problem in the borough of Staten Island and creating a grant proposal for an initiative to help the population with that problem. In our research, my group and I found that a very low percentage of the population of S.I. had been tested for HIV, and that an even lower percentage used condoms when they engaged in sexual activities (which was shocking). Given this revelation, we decided to create a proposal for an HIV testing facility and general sexual health clinic in the most affected neighborhoods of Staten Island. It was kind of appalling to see that the more forgotten boroughs and the outer edges of our city are often neglected when it comes to healthcare, especially new developments in sexual health relating to HIV/AIDS. Although there were a couple of other similar clinics in the area, they were in limited areas and were only open for a few inconvenient hours a day.
In the process of creating a plausible proposal for our clinic, we got to see a little bit of how difficult it is to respond to healthcare inequality in our world. It was a challenge to find an affordable location for our clinic that was also easily accessible for the population of Staten Island, which is a borough with a relatively limited public transportation system. It was also hard to develop a budget that was suitable to the needs of a health clinic but still low enough that we could maintain the clinic for years to come. Thankfully, we were able to find several foundations willing to provide money for HIV clinics like ours.
This project made me and my group members much more aware of the health inequities that go on in the world and even the city we live in. We often forget about healthcare problems that don’t really affect us, but especially in more neglected places those issues can become very serious. I don’t know how I could help, but if I were given the opportunity to improve our healthcare system create a better situation for the multitude of unattended people out there, I would not hesitate to help out and try to balance the state of health in the world.
This summer I worked at two different art camps, one at an elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona, and the other at a studio in Dumbo. Each summer, these places host a day camp for kids to make art. At the Awakening Seed School in Phoenix, I worked as a teacher’s assistant, organizing activities and helping a class of 5-year-olds with their art projects. At the AWE studio in Dumbo, I helped kids of all ages with their art projects and the teacher in preparing the studio for each day of classes.
These two service experiences were really memorable and fun, as I got to participate in a side of school and art that I’ve never taken part in before. It was interesting to see what it’s like to handle a large group of children armed with messy art supplies (there’s no escape from the glitter). I learned a lot about dealing with kids and helping them out with their problems, be they art-related or not. It was also great to hang out with kids much younger than me and see their more innocent views on the world.
This year I had a wonderful experience participating in the Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA) performance for service. For several months, Grace Lopez, Fatoumata Mbaye and I worked with Coraya Danu-Asmara to choreograph a dance that we then performed. It was really incredible to see the different dances people had created to support AIDS, and even though I was insecure about my own, I felt that the night was very successful. In addition to seeing all the amazing choreographies in the performance, it was awesome to see how many people showed up to watch and to support the cause. I’m glad to have participated in such an interesting and meaningful event.