On April 7th, I went to the 11th Street Community Garden to learn more about where Friends’ compost goes and help with general garden maintenance. When I got to the garden, there were lots of Friends students already there, some were sorting wood-chips, some putting together a new shed, and other putting together a bench with a trellis. I started out by helping to even out a layer of sand where the new shed would go so that it had a sturdy foundation. After we had added enough sand and gotten it fairly level, we began to lay down bricks of different sizes, making sure they all were level and straight. It was nice to be able to spend time outside on a beautiful day, while also helping the community. I als0 live near the garden, so I was glad to be able to contribute to a space that would make my neighborhood greener and more pleasant to live in. Because of the lack of greenery in New York City, it is important to support local urban gardens. It not only betters the city but is also a great way to give back to the community while spending time outside.
On April 29th, the 100th day of Trump’s presidency, I went with a group of Friends students to the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C., to protest Trump’s attitude towards climate change including, but not limited to, his inaction when it comes to finding and funding ways to slow down global warming, his promises to repeal various legislation promoting green energy put in place by the Obama administration, and his appointee to the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. We were also there to demand that climate change be taken as a serious issue, which effects everyone, and that a more active approach to combatting it be taken in general. Although the conditions may not have been ideal, being that it reached upwards of 90° while we were surrounded by thousands of people, it was worth it. It was very inspiring to see how many other people came to support this issue, one that I care deeply about. I enjoyed seeing other people’s signs, talking to people about why they were there and where they were from, and getting the opportunity to show my support for this issue. Seeing thousands of other people all gathered for the the same reason you are is an amazing experience, and I hope peaceful protests and marches like this one will continue to be a way for people to voice their opinions and show their support for issues that they care about.
A few months ago, I volunteered to take pictures of local dogs at the Stuyvesant Park Dog run. These photo were for a Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) calendar, sales of which would help to benefit the Stuyvesant Park. Arriving after school at the dog run, I and the other student volunteers, first introduced ourselves to owners of the dogs that were there and asked them for persimmon to photograph their dogs for the calendar. We explained that this calendar would benefit the park, and many of the owners were very friendly in giving us permission and inviting us to play with their dogs. I greatly enjoyed this service opportunity as it allowed me to become acquainted with some members of the local community and their pets, as well as being able to do something I love while having fun and knowing that I am making a contribution to our local community.
Over spring break, I went on the Peru Trip with 11 other Friends Seminary students. Travelling through Juliaca, Puno, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado, and Lima was an amazing experience. I had a great time getting to learn about and experience peruvian culture. The food was delicious, the people were kind and the landscape was beautiful. One of my favorite parts was the homestay, where I really got to learn about the modern day culture in Peru. Another great part of the trip was exploring the Amazon. While there we planted about 70 trees in two different local families. The trees were different fruit trees that once grown, will hopefully give the families another source of food and income. Both families were very welcoming and seemed grateful for our service. The first family offered us fresh grapefruits and coconuts afterwards and the second family (which was only one man) taught us how to use his bow and arrow. Both times, something that stood out to me about the culture was the family dynamic. Once the children get to be about 4 or 5, they live in Puerto Maldonado, the closest town, so that they can attend school. Normally they live with their mother and the father stays behind and works in the Amazon. In the first family we visited the father said that his daughter would be leaving next year, and in the second family, the father’s children had already gone. I also saw things like this on the Uros islands, and even in my homestay, where the father was almost never home since he worked as a tour guide in Machu Picchu. This makes me realize how much I take having both parents around for granted.
The Peru trip taught me many other things and was an unforgettable experience. I hope that I will get to learn about other cultures in the world and further open my mind to new experiences.