In the last week before school started, the Friends Seminary Varsity soccer team travelled to Tobago for a week. We played youth teams from the country, trained with teenagers from Tobago, but the most important and rewarding part for me was the clinic that we ran one day. Before the trip, we were told to gather any soccer equipment that we had and bring it with us. Once we arrived, we gathered it all together and brought it to a soccer field on the island. About 75 kids showed up, ranging in ages form 5 to 17. We first did some warm up drills with them, then did actual soccer technical drills. After all of that, each camper got to go into the stash of equipment and take one thing that they needed. I helped the younger kids mostly try on cleats and make sure that they fit. All of the kids also received a t shirt at the end with a water bottle and bag. For me, it was super rewarding to see that something that I might not need can be put into great use in another part of the world.
Over the summer I took part in a service camp called Visions Service Adventures. I traveled to Montana, to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Over the course of the camp I participated in several different types of service activities, like working at the Boys and Girls Club, building workbenches at the Muddy Fire Hall, cleaning up trash at Crazy Head Springs, tending to the community garden, framing and drywalling an 8-by-20-foot wall at the Lame Deer Fire Hall, and more. It was an incredible experience that taught me many lessons about my culture, and the Cheyenne culture. Meeting the kids, eating the food, and listening to fascinating stories allowed me to see the world and society from a different standpoint.
This summer the boys & girls varsity soccer teams went down to Trinidad and Tobago. We participated in a tournament, traveled around the island and ran a clinic for underprivileged kids on the island. On the last day we woke up early and set off for Mount Pleasant on the island of Tobago. When we got there we unloaded the eight duffle bags of equipment, cleats and clothing for the kids. We set up drills and activities for the kids to participate in. Around 9:00am a flurry of kids rushed onto the field. They were all different ages and looked excited to participate in the clinic. During the clinic I took videos of the Friends kids playing with the kids from Tobago. After the clinic ended we handed out cleats, balls and clothing to the kids who needed it the most. After all the equipment was distributed we watch as the kids ran back to their parents to show off their new stuff. I really enjoyed this experience and have privileged enough to do it twice now. It defiantly will be a trip I never forget.
From August 2-6, I went to a service organization called Ankur Kala and did 22 hours of service. Ankur Kala is a non-profit organization established in 1982 in Kolkata, India. Ankur Kala helps many women who are abused and have no money, food, or rights. Ankur Kala takes these women in and gives them jobs, an education, food, and shelter. This organization is an all women organization, so it was hard to convince the women that I was not going to harm them, but by the end of my service, they all liked me and talked with me regularly. These women make jams and jelly, drinks, and mostly saris, which are India silk dresses that contain ornate designs. These women are not very educated however, and they can barely speak Bengali, and do not speak English. at Ankur Kala, the teach Bengali and English in one class, but the person who teaches English is not a native English teacher. What I did there is I thought them how to speak English and Bengali, as I can speak both. Ankur Kala was a great experience and I feel I made an impact on these women’s lives.
Over the summer I volunteered at Crosswinds Equestrian Center as a camp counselor. This entailed teaching the kids how to ride and take care of the horses. An example of a day consisted of the campers riding in the morning, taking care of their horses after, followed by crafts and afternoon games involving the horses. This was an especially rewarding experience, as Crosswinds has always been a place very close to my heart. When I was little I attended camp at Crosswinds and loved every minute of it— it was part of what made me fall in love with riding in the first place. It was a rewarding experience to be able to help instill the same love for horses the camp counselors instilled in me when I was a camper.
This is a photo of the campers bathing one of the horses.
Over the summer I was lucky enough to attend a 2 week Overland field studies trip to Costa Rica. The most memorable part of our trip was the volunteer work we did. While we were in Costa Rica we visited the beautiful cloud forests of Monteverde, Arenal, the Limon province and La Carpio and San Jose. In Monteverde we spent 3 days volunteering at a sustainable coffee farm working to promote healthy farm practices with an organization called Life Monteverde. We planted trees, and dug terraces (a technique used on mountainous farms to build flat platforms perfect for growing coffee!). In Arenal we worked at a wildlife refuge called Proyecto Asis that took care of animals confiscated from smugglers at customs. There we helped prepare and feed the animals and make toys for the monkeys. In Limon we hiked to an indeginous community where we planted lots and lots of trees and chopped wood. The next day we helped repaint parts of the Baja Del Tigre school. Lastly we stayed in San Jose and traveled to La Carpio, an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where we helped build a house and taught the children English with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation. Overall completing 21 hours of service in 2 weeks. Volunteering in La Carpio had a huge impact on me. I’d never been exposed to the amount of poverty we saw there. We learned of one woman’s story who was escaping an abusive husband in Guatemala. She had no money because he wouldn’t let her get a job, so she ended up living in a one room house with a leaky tin roof and 20 other people. And the children there experienced immense troubles at home. It made me realize that the problems in my life are nothing compared to the problems other people are experiencing every day.
This year for service day our grade went to Yonkers to bag medical equipment and humanitarian supplies for people in need. This supplies is donated by hospitals, generous individuals, and nursing homes, and AFYA works to give this supplies to people living in Puerto Rico, and several US Virgin Islands as well as various countries. I helped sort the supplies where I mainly sorted syringes at AFYA.
Last summer I participated in an oyster cage building activity on June 16. We were split up into groups who worked on different parts of the cages. I was part of the group who cut sheets of wire from a large roll of cage wire. We used clippers and wore gloves to cut the wire sheets for the cages. Next we clipped off any bits of wire that stuck out undesirably. These would get in the way later, so we had to remove them. We left some of the bits on each side, as they would be bent to allow the sheet to clasp onto another sheet. Next the sheets went to a different station that bent the sheets in half. This station formed each sheet into the desired shape of the cage. Next, the bent sheets were brought back to my group. We bent the bits that we left on the sheets from the first clipping and connected them to another sheet of wire. Once we had done this, the cage was completed. After we had finished making all the cages we needed to, I swept the floor for metal scraps, and put away clippers and gloves along with three other volunteers. My experience at BOP was very pleasant. Although I got a large sore bump on my hand from all the pressure during clipping the wire, the atmosphere of the houses we were building the cages in was relaxing. The Billion Oyster Project’s mission is to distribute 1 billion oysters to about 100 acres of reefs located in the Hudson River. These oysters would help clean the water and hopefully clean and bring life back to the river. You can visit the Billion Oyster Project at https://billionoysterproject.org
Over the summer, I volunteered Green Acre Baha’i School, a center of learning for Baha’i youth and children and a popular summer camp for Baha’is around the world. During my time there, I was a co-counselor for young children who were around ten years old, and my fellow counselors, the class teacher and I spent about five days teaching the kids about the meaning and the act of tolerance. Oftentimes we would read quotes from the prophet of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, about tolerance, as well as quotes from other significant figures in the Baha’i Faith, such as Shoghi Effendi.
Through the time I was there, I made great friends with both my co-counselors and the children I was teaching. Sometimes I would sit with them during lunch, and we would talk about the class materials or just our lives in general. While I was there, I also met many long-lost friends, one of which was the class teacher I was working with who had taught me at Green Acre many years ago. It was wonderful to see her again and to catch up on all the time we hadn’t seen each other. As always though, the time I was in Green Acre quickly ran out, and before I knew it I had to leave. I was sad, but I made sure I would come back soon. Green Acre is such a wonderful place; it’s spiritually uplifting and it’s one of the best places to meet new friends and see old ones, and I can’t wait to go back and serve again.
Over the summer I volunteered at a non-profit organization called Artemis Farm. Artemis is a farm that rescues abuses horses and donkeys. Most of the horses that they rescue are mini’s which means they are much smaller than an average horse or donkey. While working with them I was given the opportunity to interact with these horses. I cleaned stables and water buckets as well as got to give the horses their medications and just spend time with them in order to help them become less afraid of people. Even though almost all of the horses had been abused or neglected in some way they were generally really sweet and gentle. It was an interesting experience for me as I have only ever worked at non-profits where I am sitting at a desk in an office. I enjoyed getting to do hands-on work with these animals. I also got to hold and spend a lot of time with a newborn horse which was so cute! Overall I greatly enjoyed getting to know the horses and the farmers who work with them.