On Saturday, April 29th at 4:15 AM I woke up and came to Friends to take a bus to DC. We got to DC a few hours later and soon began the march. I thought it was very inspiring to see some of the other signs that people had made and the various places people had came from. As we were walking we passed the museum of news which had a picture of a journalist who had been detained for speaking out against a government elsewhere, at this point we were surrounded by thousands of people speaking out for the climate, and, to an extent, against the government. This reminded me of the power that a citizen has in America and how it it important to make sure that that power is being used productively.
During service day my group worked with the New York Food Bank and packaged and unpackaged food boxes. My group mainly worked on making boxes for household supplies. This experience was interesting since the work we were doing was important but it was difficult to see the impacts of our work at the site. Overall I thought the experience was very rewarding since we filled many boxes and were able to get food and supplies to people who needed it.
In Epidemiology class we were broken into groups and assigned a borough to figure out a health care issue and design a health clinic that works with people of that borough. My group was assigned to work with Staten Island and we found that Staten Island had one of the lowest percentages of people who have been tested for HIV. While looking through many of the other categories on the Community Health Survey, I found that many places throughout the city did not have access to many features of health care that we take for granted. Many neighborhoods did not have very high percentages of health insurance and there was a vast gap of those who did not receive needed medical care with, one the district that had the highest percentage being nine times larger than the smallest percentage. Through doing this process I learned how hard it can be to actually make a health care clinic; one of the largest problems was finding a location that many people had access to and also making sure that the price is within reason, in Staten Island cost was not as large of an issue as it was in the other boroughs but we did have a lot of trouble trying to find a place that would be convenient for the population. As a 16 year old I am unsure of how I would be able to make an impact in health care inequity but it would be something that I would be interested in learning about for the future.
Earlier this month, through the organization Earth Matter I was able to help with planting and animal care on Governors Island. When I arrived we began by sewing rows in order to plant vegetables and other produce of that sort. Throughout most of the day I was working with farming and helping plant seeds. When I was there I also saw a large amount of compost on the island, this is because it is the home of much of the city’s compost, they even mentioned receiving some of the compost which Friends produces. Overall the experience was interesting as I had never really imagined things happening on Governor’s Island but it was eye opening to see that much of the island was used for things like compost and houses for chickens. I enjoyed my experience with Earth Matter and learned a lot.
In the past few months we have been working with the Youth Philanthropy Initiative in our history class. We were all assigned groups with whom we decided on a social issue that we wished to focus on. The issue we chose was the struggles of LGBT youth and discrimination. From there we decided on an organization which worked in dealing with LGBT Youth discrimination, the non-profit which we chose was GLSEN. GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network is an organization which tries to ensure a better environment for all people. We did research, went on a site visit, and made a presentation on our social issue.
From this project I personally gained skills from working as a team, looking into a social issue, causes, effects, and relevance to our community. I gained skills such as division of labor through making sure that we all addressed the things needed in order to get our point across. I gained many presentation skills through organizing three presentations from different stages of our project. I learned a lot about nonprofits and how they work from looking at their tax forms to get a better sense of how they spent their money and how nonprofits organize events and programs with the limited amount of money that they have access to. Overall it was a very positive experience and I learned a lot from it.