This summer, I interned at the GO Project in Brooklyn. There, I was an assistant teacher to underprivileged and underperforming kindergartners. Additionally, I participated in daily social justice conversations with my fellow interns at the program. I saw first hand the importance of early intervention in the education of children who are underperforming. Educational equity is something that is not talked about nearly enough. Too many children of color are disadvantaged by white-favored systems in our public school system. Students of color statistically are much less likely to succeed in school, particularly in early education. This summer, I was proud to say that I did as much as I could to try and close that gap. I worked individually with students, reading with them or solving math problems with them. I especially learned how hard it is to be a teacher, and how much teachers matter to a productive schooling system. Too many teachers are not paid enough for their efforts, and again, this was something I learned about first hand this summer. This summer taught me a lot about myself and my community, and how important early educational equity is for every child to succeed in his or her life.
I went to the Dominican Republic where I first visited a variety of hospitals and clinics which varied in funding and purpose. I then visited the most underprivileged communities and educated those living there on ways they can avoid many diseases such as STDs and diseases transmitted by mosquitos such as dengue and malaria. The most fulfilling experience I had was when I spent a week helping cement the floors of homes. Towards the end of the experience, my group set up a free clinic where we measured babies to make sure they were healthy. We then proceded to give mothers and their children the vitamins they were lacking. This was a very eye-opening experience where I was able to compare their lifestyle to my own.
This summer, I did an internship in the rheumatology department at NYU. During this month-long period, I observed clinical work, filed papers, and shadowed doctors during patient visits in a professional setting. This experience was very new to me – in the previous years I had only participated in volunteer work involving teaching students in a more casual setting. I found great interest in reading about research being done as well as the process of adding patients to certain research projects. Consent was something consistently brought up; it’s something vital to both patient security and comfort. Consent was discussed personally between doctor and patient.
Clinical trials were quite different from one-on-one scheduled patient meetings. The clinic was open for a few hours a day in which patients in a sense “waited” to be seen in the order in which they arrived. The meetings were much shorter – multiple fellows reported information from tests to a more experienced and trained doctor. After a summarization of the condition of the patient, the patient is visited briefly by the experienced doctor to insure that proper medication is assigned. Overall, a very interesting and valuable experience.
At the beginning of the summer, I spent one week participating in a Fellowship program at Robin Hood. Over the course of the week we focused on learning how poverty in and around the New York City area impacts so many people. We had the ability to work closely with, and spend our time at some of the best poverty fighting organizations in New York City. Specifically, we learned about educational differences, hunger issues and work programs. We presented on this issues at the end of the week. It was both an eye opening week and an incredible experience.
This summer I volunteered with Kumon in Okinawa, Japan. Kumon is a place where students come to study math, humanities, and English. I was a teacher over the course of three weeks, and I worked with elementary school students on their English. I read books to them, and I also went through vocabulary flashcards with them. In addition, I graded student’s math worksheets. It was rewarding to see the children’s faces light up when they got a question correct or comprehended a part of the book. I hope to use my knowledge to teach others again in the future.
This summer I went to camp at Sail Caribbean in the British Virgin Islands. I was lucky enough to see, touch, and tag green turtles multiple times. Tagging turtles keeps track of their population and their migrations. After a hurricane in the BVI they were worried the population would decrease, but the tags from before the storm showed that thankfully the storm did not have a huge effect on the population. I also cleaned 3 beaches, where we picked up trash and plastic. We also hosted an event with another organization that brought together a local community with water sports and beach games. My boat organized and worked with kids there.
I served as a teacher assistant/volunteer at vacation bible school. I helped build and set up props for plays and worked with kids between the ages of 4 and 9. I also helped with numerous other things like packing up at the end of camp.
I served as a volunteer ticket salesperson and hostess for Tapestry of a Town, a WHP fundraiser. WHP partners with Habitat for Humanity to build houses all around Westerville (Ohio). The proceeds raised during Tapestry of a Town – a historical tour of local churches/houses/crypts – were used to buy materials to build one of many houses.
For the 3rd summer, I volunteered with the Coalition for the Homeless. The organization provides housing and food to homeless individuals around NYC, because they believe that nobody should have to sleep on the streets or be hungry. I went on the Thursday night downtown food van from 7pm-10pm all around Manhattan, making 7 stops to give out food to homeless individuals. Some of the stops have over 100 people who come to get food. The experience was amazing because I knew I was making a direct difference in so many people’s lives.
This summer, I volunteered with the Coalition for the Homeless. I went on the thursday night downtown food van which stops at 7 places between 7 and 10 at night. At the stops, we pass out soup, bread, milk and oranges to people in need of food. Working with the Coalition was very rewarding, as I enjoyed making connections with folks I have met before and meeting new people who were so grateful for the food they received. Homelessness and poverty is such a big issue in NYC, and so many people have nothing to eat, and the Coalition does an awesome job of providing food to New Yorkers who need it every day and night, 365 days a year. It was my third summer working with the Coalition, and I hope to keep volunteering there in the future.