The Choreolab class and I spent several months preparing for DRA which was a dance fundraiser for AIDs research. Each of us in the class choreographed a piece and were in several. I worked with five Eight graders and Freshmen on a dance piece. I also danced in three other pieces. It was amazing to come together with other dancers in the school and spend time creating something that went to a good cause.
For the YPI project my group and I researched unemployment among veterans and the issues connecting to it. As New Yorkers we are witness homelessness and unemployment walking down the street so this was an issue that interests us. We choose the organization IAVA-Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. IAVA has countless programs that help veterans returning from war get back on their feet.
When we went for a site visit to the IAVA headquarters, we got a sense of the community and how welcoming and kind they are. We interviewed Mr. Hansman a board member, who was a veteran who rose up through the organizations programs and wanted to become involved. After our interview, we were shown around the office and we met some of the other people working there. In the middle of one of the rooms there was a floor to ceiling column that was covered in letters, pictures and names. They told us that they called it the “Wall of Why.” They explained to us that they posted anything they received from people they had helped or their families and it helped remind them why the work they are doing is so important if they ever got discouraged.
In the news and in the world we are constantly flooded with images and the events of all these horrible things that are going on and it was really beautiful to see this group of people and this organization that was focused on helping others that have gone through a rough time and really improving their lives. This experience really opened my eyes to good people can be. I learned a lot about the issue of unemployment in general (and specific to Veterans) and the outcomes or effects that can happen because of it. Although my group did not make it to the finals or win the grant, I hope to continue contact with the organization and volunteer with them.