For the fall semester, I was in Israel on a study abroad program. Throughout the semester, I had a few opportunities to participate in community service abroad, which gave me a lot of insight into the work that small organizations around the world do. We worked mostly with small, local community organizations. These included a beach cleanup in Tel Aviv, work at a local elderly care center that housed a few survivors of the Holocaust, and religious organizations whose missions related to social justice (https://www.womenofthewall.org.il). Getting to interact with these people from all across the country, and to hear about the important work that they do, and then support them, was an amazing experience. I have always enjoyed doing local community service here in New York, but my recent opportunities to help when I am abroad have been eye-opening. I am just beginning to understand how vital the work that some small, but strong, organizations do around the globe.
Over the summer, I travelled with Me to We on a 16 day trip to Tanzania. I travelled with 25 other children (ages 15-19) to experience daily life in Maasai communities and help with the sustainable development on the communities that Me to We partners with. During the trip, I learned about the history and culture of the community, learned Swahili, met members of the community, helped families with their daily tasks to learn about their way of life and to support them, and our build site project was building the foundations of a previously started school (the organization had already built 2 rooms and we built the foundations for the third). I really enjoyed getting to know other kids who wanted to make a difference in the world, spending time with community members as our tents were actually inside the community, helping out the community, and having fun. I think this was a great way to make a difference and enjoy doing so, and I hope I can go on another trip with Me to We to another one of the countries they partner with.
When I was younger, I attended a program at Animal Haven (dog and cat) shelter. I attended this program for many years until I outgrew it and they asked me to help run the program. This year (and for 2 years before) I helped run a program called Caring Kids, which brought 5-7 year olds into the shelter to teach them about humane treatment of animals and how a no-kill animal shelter works. Throughout the year, in addition to being an intern at the shelter – walking and feeding animals, cleaning up, or just helping at the shelter, I ran this program. It has been a learning experience for me teaching me how to teach younger children, how to effectively volunteer, and how to introduce people to the concept of adoption while showing them around the shelter. I think I enjoyed spending time at the shelter and will continue to do so for a long time to come.