This year I gave tours to prospective students as part of the admissions office team. I had always seen students giving tours around school, and thought I could be good at it. I was so thrilled when I was asked to give tours in the beginning of this year. I had such a good time showing families around the school, and I think that hearing from a current student was really helpful for them. It was a fun way to give back to my community, and talking to prospective students about Friends made me remember why/how much I loved it in the first place.
This April, I went to Washington D.C. and participated in the People’s Climate March. The event was meant to raise awareness about the largely disregarded issue of climate change, as President Trump refuses to acknowledge this looming problem. People of all different walks of life came together to take action and speak out against a common issue that affects everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, religion, etc. I was so inspired by the passion that was so clearly seen and heard in the crowd, and by the variety of signs I saw. Though attending this march is only one step in the right direction towards solving climate change, this march helped to show the administration that we will not give up until change occurs, and I was glad to be a part of this monumental step.
This September, I participated in a chalk walk against catcalling. We wrote messages in chalk along the sidewalk near school, and made our way towards Union Square. We wrote things like “My name is not Hey Baby” and “I deserve to feel safe on the streets.” As we filled up the sidewalk with colorful messages, people would stop and ask us questions, or take pictures. Occasionally, someone would tell us their experience with catcalling and thank us for what we were doing. It was so inspiring to be a part of the chalk walk, because I truly felt like I was making a difference. Even though one message may seem like it makes no difference, something small can inspire many conversation that leads to change. I thought that the chalk walk was super successful, and I would love to organize a couple next year or maybe take part in one outside of school.
For service day, the ninth grade presented their YPI projects to each other in the meeting house and to others who wanted to come and watch. There were 8 groups that made it to the finals out of the sixteen original groups. Each group chose an important social issue that was relevant in the NYC community. Then they had to choose a nonprofit. Everyone advocated for their nonprofits to win, but only one group could win the $5000. My group chose to work with Gigi’s Playhouse, a nonprofit organization that dealt with the issues surrounding Down syndrome, and the common misperceptions of people with Down syndrome. Although my group did not win the grand prize, I learned a lot from this experience. Going into it, I wanted to win the $5000 dollars for Gigi’s Playhouse because If felt bad for the children with Down syndrome and wanted to help the organization. I thought, “It’s so unfair that they already have to suffer so much. Gigi’s deserves that money so they can help them and provide a safe and comfortable environment for them.” But after doing research and visiting Gigi’s, I think my motives for why I wanted to win changed. I always knew that people with Down syndrome were not that different from us. And the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder: Why should they be treated so differently based on things they were born with, and cannot change? I realized that I, too, was viewing Down syndrome in the wrong way. Instead of feeling bad for people with Down syndrome, I realized how unjust the common misperceptions about them being so different are. I wanted my group to win so we could give the $5000 dollars to Gigi’s to not only improve their programs, but also educate others, showing them that people with Down Syndrome are just like us and don’t deserve to be disrespected and treated as unequal