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.
My favorite service activity this year was working with my curation class to create the exhibit “X-Countries.” We compiled images of students’ ancestors who imigrated to America and paired them with stories about the family member. It was really amazing to see everyone’s stories, and I was happy to be able to help share these stories with our entire school community.
This summer I helped to bring leftover clothes, books, and toys from a tag sale to Good Will. I worked for a neighboring Quaker meeting for about a week, coming and giving a hand to move these boxes of goods. I would sort out toys or clothes that were for age groups 9 and younger to go into another pile that would benefit Davanga School children. The remainder of the items were sent to either other Non-profit organizations or consignment stores where the reward money we received would go towards one of the meeting’s charity funds. This experience was both humbling and eye-opening. I realized how privileged I was first hand rather than just listening to my parents saying that I am. Most of the donated objects and articles of clothing were in great shape. I knew someone would have better uses for them than the previous owner did. The recipients of these” treasures” would care for them more and be very grateful. Just a small job of helping out my meeting was not only beneficial towards doing my yearly community service. I was also able to understand my parents remark about why I should cherish all that I own and realize there will always be less fortunate who are willing to claim that of which you want anymore. Rather than throwing out old belongings, everyone should look to donate and turn one man’s trash into another man’s treasure.
This year, I went to the Women’s March on Washington on January 20th. I went with a friend and my mother on a bus organized by a group of nuns from New York City there and back. It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by so many people standing together for one cause. It was especially empowering as a woman to travel there with a group of women, familiar and unfamiliar, all fighting for our rights together. I am so happy that I got the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself and protest against a presidency that I along with the thousands of people that attended think goes against social liberties and freedoms in our country.
A photo from the march
For the second summer, I spent a week shadowing a cardiologist at Rush Medical Center in Chicago. Similarly to last year, I spent time in both the cath lab and in the patient center. In the cath lab, I watched a plethora of angiograms. It was interesting to see how medicine has evolved over the course of a year, as the standard spot of catheter insertion during an angiogram had changed from being inserted into the femoral artery to being inserted into the radial artery. Being in the patient center, I was able to talk to a diverse range of patients and I was given a much better insight into bedside manner. Unlike last year, I had the opportunity to spend time in the echo lab, stress test lab, consenting patients, and watching non-operating room procedures. I acquired a much deeper knowledge of the different facets of cardiology. I also had the opportunity to attend an American Heart Association discussion about the correlation between hypothermia and cardiac arrest. This year I gained a much greater awareness of medicine, community, and their overlaps. I hope to go back again next year!
Rush University Medical Center
This summer, throughout the end of June and for the first three weeks of July, I volunteered at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, NY. Every morning I would take a Metro-North train to Yonkers and walk about 10 minutes until I arrived at the hospital, where I did a variety of volunteering jobs. The head of volunteering at the hospital is Maria Callarame, who I became very close to over my time volunteering there. Every morning I would go to her office and talk for a few minutes before she told me who needed help throughout the hospital. The job I did most often was helping Pearl, who worked in Medical Records and I also became very close to, scan the retired doctor’s files so there would be a digital copy of them and the paper copy could be shredding and recycled to make room for new doctors being added to the hospital. I also made goodie bags for patients checking out of the hospital, assisted nurses in the ER make beds and deliver blood samples to the lab, and made files with the proper documents for EMT personnel and nurses checking in new patients. Not only was it fulfilling to see the work I was doing manifested in front of me in the form of grateful employees or more space in file storage bins, but I got an introduction to what it might be like to pursue a medical profession, which I am interested in doing. The staff was very welcoming and encouraged me to return during school breaks and next summer, which I look forward to doing.
The image below is a photo of my ID card that I was given.
This summer, I experienced a mini-internship with a non-profit organization called LITWORLD. The organization enables young people to take action and create change by telling our stories and helping others tell their stories through literacy. Over the course of a few days, I learned how to engage children within in our community by having them express their own stories. Because storytelling is a huge part of LITWORLD, they have celebrations called “litfests” where they celebrate world literacy by engaging young people in reading and writing activities. At the mini internship, I, along with other girls my age, coordinated a litfest to promote the self confidence and strength that literacy brings. We travelled to Harlem where we worked within a space provided by Broadway Housing to put on the litfest. It was incredible to feel the energy the children that we worked with gave off. Their enthusiasm and their stories inspired me to be able to share my story in return. Hopefully, Friends will be able to work with them in the future to celebrate days such as the UN International Day of the Girl on October 11th and World Read Aloud Day in February to help promote literacy among children, and especially young girls, worldwide.
As the end of the school year came in hurry I was given the oppurtunity to further investigate the Flint, Michigan water crisis. As an end of the year project for my Chemistry class. We were split up into groups and given a certain topic from this years chemistry class and had to relate it to the water crisis in Flint. For example I was given concentration which is a unit we learned through out the year and i had to connect concentration to the crisis and how it played a role to the negative changes in the water. My partner and I did extensive research on the water crisis and also more research on the concnetration to make the project eeasier for both of us. The information the was recieved throught the extensicve research was very intriguing and interesting. Everything I found out was an extra step from just listening to what people had to say on the news. Also looking at it from a scientific perspective made the experience of looking at the crisis way better and more engageable. The group project was only half of the final project. The other half of the project I chose to do a water purification lab and write a lab report based off of it. During this lab I was given a sample of contaminated water and different chemicals to react with the water to make it pure. Doing this experiment helped me understand ways water can become uncontaminated with different chemicals based off different types of reactions we leaerned this previous year. Even though it wasnt the same situation as the Flint water crisis it has some ties between them and the lab was an in class representation of the crisis.
This year, the tenth grade did many labs and projects related to the chemistry behind the Flint, Michigan water crisis. We learned how the lead reacts to chlorine in the drinking water and breaks off of the pipes carrying this water. To finish the project, we learned about testing water for lead by using a chemical, sodium rhodizonate. We found that if the water tested turned pink, it was contaminated with lead higher than the EPA’s limit of 15 parts per billion. We found that some cities in the United States carry drinking water well over this limit. As part of the final project, some of the tenth grade, myself included, wrote a letter to a government official of our choosing addressing this issue and all that it affects. I wrote to the mayor of Newark, NJ addressing lead contaminated drinking water found in public schools. Behavioral and physical health effects related to the lead contamination have been found in children drinking water at these schools. Although the water fountains at the schools have been shut down, the damage has already been done. In exploring the cases throughout the United States such as in Flint and Newark and in many other cities, I discovered that this is an issue going far beyond simple mistakes or neglect to test the water. There is a strong correlation between the issue and the wealth of towns and cities it was found in. Poorer towns and cities tended to have lead contamination of water. This is partly due to the inadequate funding given to the town or city. Despite this, the government officials of many towns and cities took far too long to react to the issue and treated it as a far less important issue than it is. Many people do not know enough about the issue and the extent of its importance, myself including before I had done this project. I intend to spread this struggle to others so that they too can be educated on its importance. Hopefully government officials will eventually help the issue as much as they are able to prevent further lead contamination cases.
Throughout this year, on every Day 8, I took a trip across the street to Stuyvesant Square Park to volunteer for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. During these trips, I replenished the doggy-bag dispensers throughout the two parks on either side of 2nd Avenue. Through this experience, I had the pleasure of experiencing what the parks I grew up in after school as a child looked like when all of the children of New York City were in school and the parks were just being enjoyed by the other citizens of NYC. Not only that, but I also met the kind Stuyvesant Square Park head Josie, who I would see every week or so on Day 8 as I picked up the doggy-bags from her. Although our short conversations never got farther than how cold New York was being even though it was April or when I have days off of school, they were some of the highlights of my day as I experienced just how kind a complete stranger can be to a high school student who comes to get doggy-bags from her every week or so. Not only was it rewarding to see how other people live their lives while I was in school, it also gave me a time of peace in my busy high school life to just listen to music and walk around a beautiful New York City Park and a time to catch up with friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while who shared that Day 8 last period free with me, as well. I have a newfound appreciation for the park I grew up in as a child now, as I now understand that it is not just a place for me and my friends to play manhunt in first grade, but a place where a community of New Yorkers come every day to enjoy a break from the craziness of their day-to-day lives.