This Sunday, I volunteered to walk in the 2015 Aids Walk. The 10 kilometer walk started and ended in central park. Throughout the whole time I was inspired by the enormous crowd’s support in the fight for AIDS. Many of the groups who walked were doing it for deceased loved ones, which somewhat surprised me as I do not know anyone directly affected by AIDS so I did not think it was such a problem in the city. The walk raised $4,126,480 in total and over $139 million in the past thirty years. Everyone there was super motivated, especially the volunteers of the walk. They would always cheer as we walked by and thanked us for participating. This high energy atmosphere motivated me to finish and also really increased my awareness of AIDS and how people are fighting it. Now I know that AIDS does not have a cure yet but it is definitely treatable and possible to live with. With more amazing charities like this AIDS walk, a cure will surely be found.
On the 21st of September there was a climate march from 81st street and central park west to around the U.N. This march was to encourage the United Nations to make laws and regulations to stop climate change. More than 300,000 people attended the march, including several positions and celebrities. I attended with our school and some other school connected to the Religious Society of Friends.
Although it was tedious while it took several hours for our group to actually start marching, this allowed for the excitement to build. As we waited there was a moment of silence for two minutes, and everybody put their hands up, something almost reminiscent of Ferguson. There was a deafening roar, as the silence ended and continued all the way up the line of people until it reached us. We began our walk at about 2 pm, marching forward with our school’s banner. Eventually we opened up a large parachute, with the words “I love our earth” written on it and the image of an earth in a tree. We had a very large, inflated ball that looked like a globe which we put in the center of the parachute and bounced up and down. Several people we did not know came and helped us use the parachute. After several hours and several miles, I went home, though the march continued. It was amazing and inspiring to see so many people together for one cause.
During the first few months of the school year I tutored students in math at my old middle school. My math teacher from 7th and 8th grade asked me if I would like to come back to do this. I enjoyed helping kids with their math skills and seeing them grow of the period of time when I visited. I would go for around 45 minutes after school two times a week. Doing this was special to me because when I went to Salk, I knew many kids in my grade who had trouble with math, but none of our teachers had the time to help them. To go back and made a tangible difference in my school was very special to me. My experiences with the kids at Salk helped me fortify my connections with that school. Although it was hard on many students at Salk to not be able to get the one on one math teaching they needed, it didn’t mean that the teachers there weren’t working hard. As I answered kids’ questions my math teacher was planning the lesson for the next day, or recording specialized videos (about the topics in class) on youtube that kids could watch in their spare time. He was doing all he could to help his students, and there still wasn’t enough time for him to teach them all the things they needed to know. Being able to give my teacher some time to do work while I taught was an experience that matured and enlightened me to be able to understand where my teacher had been coming from. Although the visits didn’t really take much time, and I could be back at school for sports practice, it was still possible to influence the students greatly. I don’t think people realize how big of a difference one can make without spending any money or taking a huge chunk of time out of their days.
Rachel Hodes Class of 2017
The part of the project I found most challenging was constructing the presentation. Our group spent a lot of time working on our presentation and at times it became very tedious. We worked very well as a group and were able to easily to work through all of our issues without any argument. I found this challenging because it was very hard to make a compelling presentation in under 10 minutes. As a group, we tried to have as little text on our presentation as possible so the audience didn’t get bored reading a bunch of information on our slides. We also wanted to include videos in order to keep our audience engaged and to make sure they understood what we were talking about.
The most rewarding part of our YPI project was when we gave our presentation. We had worked a lot on our presentation and it was nice for it to all come together in the final presentation. The presentation not only hard in the sense of constructing it, it was not easy to go up and present in front of the whole 9th grade. We had practiced a lot on things like making sure we made eye contact with the audience and speaking clearly. In our initial presentation we had not done as good of a job and it felt really good to improve. The joint most rewarding part of this project was making our social issue more known. Sex trafficking is an overlooked social issue and not many people are educated about it. People have different ideas of sex trafficking then what is actually happening and it was nice to clarify and educate people on our project, knowing we were making a difference.
For the YPI project, my group chose to research the social issue of immigrants and their immersion into a new city and culture. When immigrants come to New York City, it is very hard for them to acclimate to the society and support themselves and their families. They often struggle to find jobs and to pay for housing and an education for their children. Additionally, they also struggle with the new language and their lack of connections in the city. We chose to address this social issue by researching a non-profit organization called Hot Bread Kitchen. Hot Bread Kitchen is a business that provides immigrant women job training and teaches them skills that they need to strive in the culinary industry. Additionally, the give independent baking companies, mostly companies of immigrants, that need support, the resources that they need to get kick-started. Along with baking instruction, they give the women English lessons and provide them with many essential public resources like housing and child care.
Over the course of the project, I came to understand the hardships that immigrants endure when arriving to new places, especially one as big as New York City. I previously did not understand how hard it is to adjust and thrive in a new city, but learning about the problems immigrants face and talking to some about these problems changed my previous perception. Actually seeing the women work and succeed in the kitchen was very rewarding to me, as I realized what great work Hot Break Kitchen does. Also, I realized how far simply giving a job to people who have struggled to find one can truly go. I also improved my communication skills, as I was in constant communication with Hot Bread Kitchen, coordinating our site visit. As I live near the Hot Bread Kitchen headquarters, I hope to continue to visit their headquarters and buy their bread in the future.
YPI Service Learning Reflection
For our YPI project, Lucy, Lucas, David, and I worked with the organization Sanctuary For Families, which provides relief and services to victims of domestic and gender based violence. I was originally nervous to pick domestic violence because I, and the others in my group, felt no particular connection to the subject. However, on our visit to Sanctuary’s offices, I completely changed my mind and instantly became glad we had chosen it. Emily, the woman we met with, explained to us all the types, versions, and forms of domestic violence. She taught us about the cycle of violence and all the effects. At that point, everyone in my group found a reason to care and push for Sanctuary. For me, the most compelling things were hearing about sex trafficking and the negative impacts violence has on children and their education. Through more research outside of class, I started to understand the severity and horror of domestic violence – the way it ended relationships and careers, broke up families, traumatized children, displaced people, and had the potential to permanently destroy someone’s life. About a week before our second in class presentation, my group became more inspired and driven, because we realized how much it would mean to us to help even just one person in a situation like that. I feel really proud of the way we worked together, especially towards the time of the presentation. We all worked so hard on the powerpoint and really studied the material. On this project we all collaborated well, and no one was controlling or felt the need to motivate the group. It makes an incredible difference to work on a project with people who truly care about it.
The day of the presentation, we were concerned we were not prepared enough, even though we had practiced the whole week before. However, after we saw the first round of presentations, I realized we were ready and it didn’t need to be perfect and memorized, because we all knew the material and were able to speak about our topic from the heart. Once we stood up in the meetinghouse, I got extremely nervous. We wanted to do Sanctuary for Families justice with our presentation, and I think that pressure intimidated all of us. Although I feel our delivery was not as good as it could have been, or as it was when we practiced, we said what we felt was important and did our best. I am so proud to have represented an organization as amazing as Sanctuary for Families, but I’m that sad we were not able to help them financially. Yet, it’s reassuring to know that there are other ways I can stay involved. I’ve stayed in contact with Emily, from Sanctuary for Families, and I am planning to volunteer for them next year.
Early World History
My group decided on the social issue of early childhood education. We saw the combination of illiteracy, high school dropout rates, family trouble, and poverty could all be fixed by having programs that involved early childhood education. We researched all of the different causes of lack of early childhood education, and came up with poverty as the main cause. We saw that impoverished children were more likely to be behind in their grade level, and this would often lead to them dropping out of school continuing the cycle of poverty. We realized that if we could help a foundation that started their program at the beginning of a child’s story, then we could create a better ending.
We choose the Children’s Aid Society, an organization that deals with many different programs that help children and their families in the most impoverished parts of New York City. We focused on their early childhood program, of which Moria Cappio is vice president. We visited her at the offices, and interviewed her about their programs. She taught us about how they slowly incorporate different skills, such as planning, reading, and focusing into the games that the children play everyday, so that the children can be more successful later in life. Their children, by the fifth grade, were doing better 93% of the time than the children that had not gone through their programs. It was great to see the programs we think are so important being put to work.
This project was extremely rewarding, because even if our non-profit was not chosen, we could rest easily knowing that there were other social issues and people in need that are being helped with the funds. I feel like I have helped in the community, by spreading the word about Children’s Aid Society and also helping to choose GEMS to win the grant. This project definitely helped me with my presentation skill. It helped with both the creating part and oral parts of presentations, along with helping me work better in a group.
For my nonprofit I chose DreamYard, a group aimed at helping children succeed through arts-based learning. Tessa, Jediah, Isabel and I went to visit there and a board member Abby Turk gave us a tour of their building in the Bronx. We interviewed multiple kids and a few interns and employees. They have their building there because they want to transform the community around them with helping children and hosting many events for families in the area. Some of the events are a movie night before the school starts where DreamYard gives the parents bookbags and notebooks and pencils to prepare them for school.
Initially I did not think that this was not so important because I just thought that I was teaching arts to children, but over the course of the project I realized that the arts are very important to them and can help them in their lives as well like getting them into colleges and giving them jobs. I thought the most challenging part was presenting because you had to have speaking skills which I am not so good at. I could still be engaged with my project by volunteering because they accept volunteers.