This summer I was able to work with the Robin Hood foundation in NYC to learn about their extensive outreach and understand more about what poverty is, why it occurs, and how we can stop it. While in this program I learned about the many different programs that Robin Hood supports ranging from organizations created to help with early childhood development, the court system, homelessness, and many more. Each portfolio of organizations was created because Robin Hood believes that there are some core reasons why people become impoverished and in order to end the cycle of poverty they must help all different programs. I was able to travel around with 12 other students and learn about these programs and see first hand the positive effect they have had on others lives.
This summer I was given the opportunity through a service learning program to go to northern Thailand for three weeks to teach english to students at an elementary school. I got to study how to be a teacher and get first hand experience teaching the kids. I got to design lesson plans and come up with ways to excite my beautiful students about the english language. I taught kids from ages eight to ten for 14 days at a local school in Chiang Mai. Although there was a huge language barrier it was amazing to see different ways we got to connect with the kids through dancing and singing. They were enthusiastic, respectful, and eager to learn. The Thai school struggle to teach their kids english because of the lack of teachers that speak it. Most of the kids had only learned english from textbooks and had never heard anyone really speak it. I met incredible people and kids that I hope to one day see again. After working at theschool we began work at a local children’s home where we poured cement and removed rust from the kids playground. This work proved difficult in the Thai heat but we all had so much fun and it was amazing to see the final product. We got to play with the kids once they got home from school and the little girls would braid and weave flowers into our hair while we played games like tag and duck duck goose. These kids were so welcoming and kind which I found was a overwhelming theme throughout all of Thailand. The culture is so different than anything I had ever experienced and I was so luck to be able to learn from them as they learned from us.
This summer I traveled to Peru for two weeks to do service with a group called GLA. Our groups mission was to make Qui (guinea pig) houses for four different families living on the outskirts of a city called Cusco. These houses are very important to have because people without the resources to make them keep the guinea pig in their homes. This is very unsanitary and dangerous because it spreads disease. We would wake up at 6:30 every morning and drive into the small town of Chocco where the families lived. We would walk to the four different work sites with a group of about eight and start. These houses are made of adobe bricks and mud. We would carry all the bricks, around 300 of them at each site, over to where we were building and start assembling them with mud. We pick axes the dirt, sifted it and then added water to make the mud. This project took two weeks and it was a large structure with two stories. In our breaks between work period we would visit the local school and play soccer and volleyball with the kids. We built strong relationships with them even though not all of us spoke Spanish. It was amazing how we could get along and learn about each other without even knowing how to talk to one another. We would sing songs like, Hips don’t lie or sorry by Justin Bieber. Each kid was so kind and welcoming to our whole group. Aside from the Qui houses we also would travel around Peru to do different adventure aspects and one of the days we visited an orphanage. This was a very enlightening experience because we got to meet some older girls. One of the girls was sixteen and talked to us about her school work and how she was planning on getting a job. To see her so determined about her life even though she grew up without her family was so amazing and she was such a mentor to the younger kids. The whole experience was so incredible and I took home new knowledge about privilege and the fact that although some of the people we worked with didn’t have very much they were happy and loved each and were proud of the work that they did and of their families. I can’t wait to return to Peru one day and I hope that my experience on this trip will carry over to my service work at school and in New York.
— By Bianca Howell
Over the course of my YPI project I learned so much about my social issue, domestic abuse, and the ways that people all over the world are effected by it. At first I knew I wanted to focus on domestic abuse as I knew it, beating a family member or loved one, I am now aware of how much more domestic abuse really is. Domestic abuse is metal, physical, financial abuse and also branches of sex trafficking and FGM. I’m am so much more passionate and aware of how abuse is talked about in culture today in media or around school. My organization really opened my eyes too the severity of this social issue and what we need to do to help.
My group and I plan to remain very engaged with our organization by having school fund raisers and a clothing drive for the butterfly boutique. I also want to volunteer with sanctuary for families for the rest of high school if not farther. I really believe in this organization and I know it will continue to change the lives of millions of people all over NY.