This past summer I went on a service trip to the Galapagos Islands, but also spent a few days in Ecuador immersing oursleves in the city’s culture and daily routines. Primarily throughout this trip we focused on climate conservation and contributing what we could to missions devoted to helping endangered animals. In a group of 20 students, coming together from places all around America, we traveled between many of the Galapagos Islands: Santa Cruz, Isabella, San Cristobal, and Baltra. While we were in Isabella, our group worked with a few locals, Gustavo and Angel, clearing our enclosures for the endangered tourtise. For 3 days, we worked for around 5 hours uprooting weeds and harmful plants to the tourtise. Once we had successfully cleared the plants from those enclosures, we began work on the top of a hill cutting down bigger trees. We were clearing these trees so we were able to plant trees that would better contribute to the environment. Afer Isabella, we went to San Cristobal and worked to fix up a school for a day. While we were there we painted and cleaned their entire school, and we able to spend some times with the children. This experience was very heart warming for me because were only 7 children in the entire school, and they have very simple days. So being there and seeing them enjoy them selves just by playing a soccer game for example, was very rewarding.
Over the course of the project my attitude has changed tremendously because I have become aware of all the different social issues. Before the YPI project, I didn’t know how severe some of the cases are that were presented. Now I know how many issues in New York City need brought awareness to. Since we had to reach out the community ourselves it helped us to display a certain level of independence and communication skills. We had to make phone calls ourselves and set up conference meetings, so that helped us develop skills we’ll need for the rest of our lives. Throughout the project, I found putting all of our information into a compelling argument challenging, but also accomplishing because, at the end, you prove to your self as well as other people how important your social issue really is. I thought it was accomplishing to actually present our facts and arguments to our grade because it showed all of our hard work and energy. Furthermore, we will remain engaged with our non-profit organization (The American Diabetes Organization) because we are planning to attend one of their fundraising walks in October of this year. We hope to keep in to in touch with the people we met with and attend their walks annually. I did find this a meaningful experience because I felt it connected us more to the people suffering in the city and, since we are now aware of all the great programs, we can now help advocate and make a change in their lives.