In the beginning of the year, I helped out during both the new student and the 9th grade orientations. It was the first year I had helped out for one of these orientations, and as a senior, it was touching to be able to impart some wisdom to the freshmen and help them the way seniors helped me when I was a freshman.
Over the summer, I volunteered at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in New York. I spent most of my time there calling potential voters to come out and support Hillary in this upcoming election. I talked to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, trying to convince them to either vote for Hillary or to try and volunteer for the campaign. At the beginning, I was nervous about making calls, but towards the end, I was pretty comfortable with doing so. It was a fun experience and I was happy that I got to take action in this controversial election.
Earlier in the year, some friends and I helped out at MulchFest. What we did was shovel a pile of mulch into wheelbarrows, and from there, we took to wheelbarrows to a grassy area and spread the mulch around. While I was shoveling the mulch, I heard various people on the good smell the mulch gave, and some people thanked us for doing the service. After 4 hours of work, I felt really good and accomplished.
Here at Friends Seminary, we are accepting of LGBTQ youth, and we don’t know what most LGBTQ students go through because of the fact that our school community is accepting of this. This isn’t the case for most other LGBTQ students, whose schools don’t have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) or supporting environment. I got to learn more about what LGBTQ students have to go through during my YPI site visit at an organization called GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). At our site visit, we met Eliza Byard, who is the head of GLSEN’s New York City chapter. One thing that was a bit challenging in this project was finding the statistics, but then Eliza brought up the National School Climate survey, which helped with that a lot. It was definitely rewarding when we presented our slideshow, as it made other people aware of our issue and we were able to bring it to other people’s attentions. I realized how lucky we are at Friends to be in a safe space that is welcoming and accepting. I hope that I and the rest of my group will be able to maintain contact with Eliza.
Before coming to Friends this year, I went to school at De La Salle Academy where there were great faculty members, as well as an optimistic environment. From day one, we always heard that we were one big family. Community was a large part of the culture at De la Salle, and everyone always helped everyone else. During the summer, De la Salle had to move from their home at 96th St and Amsterdam to a new, much bigger building at 43rd Street near Times Square. Some people came to help out; including parents and students who had graduated from the school a long time ago. I went to volunteer five days during the summer to help move all the things from the current building to the new building. Me, my friends and on some days my Dad carried heavy boxes of books, furniture and other items up and down many flights of stairs. I also helped clear out all the trash at the new building and we filled up a whole dumpster by the end of the day. I really enjoyed volunteering at De la Salle Academy and am very glad I helped.