This summer I volunteered to help the rising juniors on their ex ed trip. My responsibilities were to make a good role model for the other students, to make sure I was there if anybody needed help, to assist in cooking dinner and often lead hikes. This trip was significant to me because it allowed me to exercise my leadership skills and help other students while doing something that I love. It is crucial to enjoy whatever service you are doing because otherwise you will not put your all of your effort into it and it won’t be a meaningful experience. I also volunteered on this trip because I might want to go into outdoor education when I am older, helping other students to really understand why they should love the outdoors as much as I do.
This summer I went to Costa Rica on a service trip. I participated in various service activities in different places throughout Costa Rica. When my service group and I were near Tamarindo we helped clean up a school to get it ready for the first day. This activity was especially meaningful to me because education is one of the most important things to have growing up. The school that we helped is in a poor town and the woman leading the cleanup was a teacher in the school. Doing this service made me think about how fortunate I am to be going to friends and how important it is that children around the world get a quality education. When we were in La Fortuna my group worked with a boy scout’s organization to help repaint a park. Later in the trip in Turrialba my group and I went to a school with people with disabilities. We watched them perform some acts in celebration of Nicoya Party Annexation Day then we helped the students prepare gift bags for an event that they were going to have later. Exploring Costa Rica and doing service all around the country was a great experience because it helped me become more aware of what is actually happening. The students do not have the most pristine facilities and abundant resources. The teacher that was helping to clean the school before the first day said that before she came, the school was a disaster and one of the classrooms wasn’t even being used even though the school is very small to start. There need to be more people like this teacher who care about the students, as well as volunteers to help and donate to improve the schools in poor towns.
On service day this year, I completed service for AFYA. AFYA is an organization that sends medical supplies donated by hospitals to countries in need. Hospitals get rid of supplies that could potentially help someone in a different country and AFYA sends these supplies to those countries. Recently they have helped people in the Philippines, Africa and Haiti. The amount of supplies that AFYA has sent is worth 26 million dollars.
I think it is incredible that AFYA is able to send these supplies when if they did not exist, millions of dollars worth of medical supplies would go to complete waste. These countries need more medical supplies and the extra things we have here could be helping so many people. This program has helped me be aware of people in the Philippines, Africa and Haiti that need these additional supplies when otherwise I would not be thinking about them or even aware of the problem at all.
The issue my group chose children’s education and the organization that we liked was Student Sponsor Partners (SSP). Student Sponsor Partners takes students from low income families with lower grades in NYC public schools and puts them into a low tuition private school. Before researching this issue, I was completely uninformed about how low the graduation rates are in New York City. During this process we found out that the graduation rate for the class of 2015 was 70.5%. This is extremely low compared to New York State as a whole and other states in the U.S. My attitude toward this issue has changed because before this project I did not have a great idea of the care this problem needed and I didn’t think much about it but now I know it is a pressing problem that we need to attend to as soon as possible.
After going on our site visit to the organization, I discovered my passion for this topic. I would like to stay in touch with SSP. Some of the ways I could do that would be sponsoring one of the students. This would help someone go to the private school with financial stability. I could also help to fundraise and donate to the organization. This program works with high school students and they are going through a lot of the same things as I am, so it is possible I could meet with some of the students involved with the program to provide some kind of emotional support if they need it.