Zara’s Politics Service

I’m currently enrolled in Stefan Stawnychy’s Politics, Power, and Citizenship class.  Most of our class discussion is focused on the 2016 presidential election, so in order to have an easy way to reference the candidate’s stances, we created a website that compares Clinton’s and Trump’s views on various issues.  Edie Astley and I gathered the information on Trump’s and Clinton’s economic policies / vision and made a side by side list of what their stances are.  We found these directly from their respective websites so as to exclude as much bias as possible.

We are sharing this website with the Friends community to give students an easy way to learn more about specific issues within the election.

Zara’s Time with GO Project

This July I worked with GO Project to help provide extra support to children who were falling behind in school, often due to educational inequity.  I worked in a classroom of students entering the fourth grade and helped to improve their math and writing skills.  We mainly worked on multiplication and division and how to properly structure a paragraph.

Working with GO Project was an extremely enriching experience.  I could see the change in my students abilities from the beginning of the program to the end.  Along with working with the students, I also participated in daily professional development sessions where all the student interns discussed issues in our society including educational inequity, micro aggressions, and how to make a difference.

GO Project works hard to fight educational inequity in our school system, and I enjoyed working with them this summer.


Zara’s Experience in Peru

Over spring break, I participated in the school trip to Peru in partnership with Envoys.  We spent two amazing weeks in Peru, visiting Lima, Juliaca, Puno, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon.  I loved being immersed in Peruvian culture, from eating their delicious food to speaking their language.  I also loved staying with my host family, since I got to really see what everyday life was like in Peru and experience living in a household where no one knew English.  While we were in the Amazon, we helped to plant around 75 trees with the locals.  It was crazy hot while we planted, but a great experience to get to hold a sapling and bury it in the ground, knowing that in a few years it will be taller than me and growing mangos or cacao beans or lemons or pomellas or any of the other fruits of the types of trees we planted.  It only took us an hour to plant the first 50 trees, and I thought how amazing it would be if everyone could take an hour out of every day just to plant trees.  Overall, the Peru trip definitely expanded my view of the world by allowing me to experience life in another country, and learn how different it could be.  For example, in my home stay, my mom was surprised to find out that there are a lot of homeless people in New York.  She said that in Cusco, the government provides easy jobs to otherwise homeless people to help them afford shelter (or something close to that; it was in Spanish so I’m not completely sure.)  I had an amazing experience in Peru, and I’m hope the school continues to provide these global trips so other students can have a similar experience.

1897933_811743325586779_2941863347310900974_nMali, Carly, and I with our host families.

DCIM102GOPRO Planting trees in the Amazon.

IMG_0806 At the Moray ruins.IMG_1019 At Machu Picchu.IMG_1130At the Uros Floating Islands.

Zara’s Service Reflection

This July I went on a trip with other teens from around the world.  During the course of this trip, we lived by a Leave No Trace standard where we left every campsite cleaner than we found it.

We also participated in two service projects, one picking up trash in Sequoia National Park and the other pulling weeds in the Ring Mountain reserve.  Both experiences were very rewarding because we knew we were allowing other camp groups to have a more enjoyable and pure experience of nature.



^Picking up trash in Sequoia National Park

Zara’s Service Reflection: GEMS



For the history YPI project, I worked with my peers to learn more about the issue of sex trafficking.  2200-5000 girls are trafficked in NYC everyday.  I was drawn to this issue because many of the girls are my age and used to live lives similar to my own.  This is why we chose to work with GEMS, or Girls Education and Mentoring Services.  They work with girls aged 12-24 to help them regain their self-esteem, confidence, and lives while helping them to escape the industry.


This project was very interesting and fulfilling.  Not only did I learn more about my issue, I also got to create a relationship with this organization that does such great work.  As an added bonus, I also got to improve my public speaking skills while practicing for the final presentation.  I especially enjoyed visiting the organization.  Although it was slightly challenging to schedule, it was amazing to see how devoted these women are to helping the girls.  I hope to have a continuing relationship with this organization in the future.

Zara’s Experience at the UN


This December I went to the United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights.  It is a international student conference (this year included New York, Wyoming, France, Canada, and Mexico). Students get together and come up with campaigns for human rights issues.  The first day consisted of presentations on different human rights issues made by the students.  I made a presentation on human trafficking with Morgan Carmen.  The second day we were split into sub groups to create campaign plans to help combat our respective issues, and the third day we presented these campaigns to real human rights activists who then critiqued them.

It was an amazing experience that allowed me not only to meet new people but also to learn how I could make a difference.  Creating our campaign was fun, and it was interesting to see how different ideas combined to overcome the obstacles.  I spoke in front of the entire conference on all three days, and there were a lot of people there.  This helped me improve my public speaking and presentation skills.

I learned a lot about different human rights issues.  Human trafficking was my main focus, and I had never realized how much of an issue it is.  It is just a disguised form of modern day slavery that exists all over the world, including America.  I also learned about other issues through other people’s presentations such as women’s rights and freedom of speech for all.

Getting to collaborate with different people with different opinions was an interesting experience that helped to broaden my views on issues.  Overall, it was an incredible experience which I would love to do again.