Over the course of the last few weeks. I did a lot of work helping with the empty bowls project. I helped to glaze a lot of pottery and then helped sell the bowls at the big Empty Bowls Ice Cream Social. This event was a lot of fun because I am in pottery class at school so it was great to combine something that I really enjoy with getting my service done. It was also great to see how excited kids and parents got when they saw all the work we had done. Empty bowls donates the money earned from selling the pots to Hunger in the US. I personally think that hunger in our nation is such an important issue so I was so happy to help out. This was such a rewarding activity and I am so happy I got to be a part of it! f
Over spring break I went along with several of my classmates to Jordan. During our trip we spent several days learning about the scarcity of water throughout the region and how the political issues involving Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Jordan affect the ability to make regional arrangements and agreements. We spent a lot of time reviewing how any efforts made on either side were impractical and self-serving.
I feel like i have a better sense of how politics and inflated ego affect the progression of worthy causes and the allocation of necessities. Sometimes it is not just about understanding what the right thing to do is or what the necessary thing to do is. Often, the realities of the world interfere with our better intentions and the false divisions we place between ourselves only serve to lead to mutual destruction. Both sides are harmed by a lack of cooperation and are incapable of tackling their issues independently. i learned from this experience that the world is more complicated than some Friends utopia where everyone loves each other and theres a perpetual drum circle.
Summer of Service
This summer, I volunteered for the JCC program, “The Gift of Literacy and the Gift of Math.” This nonprofit program goes on all year, and takes place in uptown public schools in New York City. Each volunteer is assigned a child from the age of 6 to the age of 9. I was assigned a 9-year-old boy named Gabriel Lopez to work with this summer. I had worked with him all last year with the same program every Wednesday afternoon for two hours. This summer, seeing as I knew Gabriel fairly well, I was assigned to tutor him in Math again from 9:00-10:30, and in Literacy from 10:30-12:00 every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for five weeks. Gabriel is a very smart kid, especially in mathematics, but he has a behavioral problem because of that talent. He found the math exercises unnecessary because he had already mastered them, and on top of this, he was being forced to do them during his summer break. His bad behavior was also a result of his insecurity about his verbal abilities. The struggle to get Gabriel to work with me and enjoy it was both tough and fascinating. When I was able to get him to focus, he did amazing work. Watching him understand new things and prosper was one of the most rewarding things I’ve every experienced.
I chose the quote, “For Friends the Testimony of equality begins with the belief that the Light is present in us all. All are deserving of respect, no matter what our differences. When we respect the Light in ourselves and others, we encourage all to turn inward for guidance and truth.” -Friends Seminary Faith and Practice Handbook. In my work with this young boy, I upheld this value of seeing ‘that of God’ in him. I saw the equal intellectual potential that he had, and how amazing it was to be able to help him exercise that potential. In the moments where he had trouble understanding or behaving, instead of judging him, I was patient with him and respected him. I was able to guide him to use his talents by pushing him not to look at the things that he couldn’t do yet, but instead, focus on all that he’s accomplished in the past. This kind of recognition of one’s own achievements helps one boost one’s confidence in future endeavors.
Here are some pictures of Gabriel and me. Here is the link to applying for the program: http://www.jccmanhattan.org/attach/Volunteer_Registration_Form.pdf
This summer I went to Argentina with Putney Student Travel. The program I participated in, Language Learning: Argentina, focuses on Spanish language immersion and has a service component as well. For two weeks out of the month long trip our group stayed in a small village called Villa de Las Rosas in the countryside of Cordoba and spent a lot of time working in the community. In total, our group completed sixty hours of community service in Villa de Las Rosas. Our group volunteered at the local school where we painted sets for the community center, built benches and painted elaborate murals on one of the school’s buildings. We collaborated with the local kids (aged16-19) on designing and painting.
Working at the school was extremely gratifying and enjoyable. The kids from the town who worked with us made the experience unforgettable. When we were all either painting or building we would play music, talk, and laugh with one another. By collaborating, working towards a common goal, and serving the community we developed strong connections with the Argentine kids. Because we developed such close relationships with the Argentine kids the work we were doing felt more meaningful and we got to see the difference the work made in the community more closely. At the end of the two weeks when we had completed all of the service projects it was incredible to see how the murals and benches brought so much color and excitement to the school. More than that, the experience showed me how important it is to work together and how meaningful it can be to connect with someone, even if it is just over painting murals.