This year I volunteered at the Friends Seminary auction as a student docent. This was a positive experience for me because I was able to incorporate my interest in Art History and Curation into my service requirement for the 2017-2018 school year. I was responsible for explaining the works of Rashid Johnson. Prior to the preview and auction, I researched his work and his career. I was most fascinated by his Anxious Men series. A lot of Rashid’s work is centered around the experience of African Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement. I felt very fortunate to examine his work and participate in the Friends Seminary Auction this year.
One of the most memorable service events that I attended this year was the People’s Climate March in Washington DC. As the leader of SEED and a citizen of planet earth, I view protecting the planet as critical. Attending the People’s Climate March in Washington allowed me the opportunity to voice my opinion about the importance of environmental protection.
The primary objective of the march was to protest Trump’s un-environmental policies. Marching in DC was rewarding in that I felt that I was not alone in my beliefs, and I felt a sense of unity with the individuals marching. I was inspired by the community of people speaking out, and I felt like we have the ability to fix the climate crisis if we work together.
Here is a picture of the group of students and teachers and parents that attended the march:
Second semester I interned at the American Museum of Natural History with the Saltz Internship. I worked every weekend, 5 hours per weekend, at the museum. I worked on carts throughout the museum teaching visitors about various topics ranging from infrared vision to zooplankton found in Central Park pond water. I learned a lot from the internship. I think the most important skill I learned was how to teach various age groups and knowledge levels. It was rewarding to see young children getting excited about something I would teach them about our world. I enjoyed working at the museum and teaching others about the world around us.
During the Youth Philanthropy Initiative project, my group was able to explore the social issue of Domestic Violence. In this process, we studied domestic violence, found an organization in New York City that focused on helping survivors of domestic violence, and visited the shelter.
We partnered with Volunteers of America–Greater New York, who house domestic violence survivors in several shelters throughout New York City. My attitude toward domestic violence changed upon my visit to one of the shelters, where I was able to put myself in the shoes of a survivor of domestic violence. I no longer thought of domestic violence as an issue affecting few people, I learned that it is a devastating social issue affecting many.
I found it challenging working with people whose work-ethic standards vary. However, in the end, once the work was finalized and the presentation was perfected, I found the project to be very rewarding.
While visiting the site, I learned about the programs for volunteers where there are opportunities to visit for birthday celebrations of children staying at the shelter. “Brightening Birthdays,” as it is called at VOA–GNY, would be an experience I would enjoy partaking in. Working on the YPI Project enabled me to discover the social issues within my city, as well as caring organizations working to solve these issues.
In the online activities or “modules” that I completed prior to the Spanish Emersion Peru Trip, I learned about Peruvian history and culture. One of the principles of Leave No Trace, which was discussed frequently on the trip was “Know Before You Go.” Knowing before you go means studying up on the destination, and at least having a basic understanding of the country’s politics, history, and traditions. To me, this step is one that cannot be overlooked. As a tourist, I often feel like I am disrupting the locals by being an onlooker to their daily lives. However, with prior knowledge of a destination, a tourist can be more culturally sensitive and aware, which I believe is crucial in order to avoid being the “obnoxious American tourist.”
Traveling to Peru with a sense of the country enabled me to have a better understanding while on tours, visiting attractions, and during discussions with my host family. I don’t believe I would have gotten as much out of the trip if it wasn’t for the information I gathered at home in New York.