Over the summer, I volunteered at Creative Art Start, an art camp in the city for younger children. I focused on helping kids make their own movies. I taught and helped them use cameras and other equipment, as well as doing the final editing and visual effects for the films. I really enjoyed being able to instill my passion for film making in the students and teach them new skills that they will be able to make use of later on. I often got really invested in their projects, and always wanted to make sure the final product was something I’d be proud of too.
In January of 2017, my father and I flew to Washington DC for the Women’s March on Washington.
The Women’s March on Washington was a March that took place the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. It was a March in which we marched in solidarity with the women of the US because of our new president and his masaugonist tendencies.
As well, it was somewhat a protest against Donald Trump in general, as we felt his election was a horrible development in the state of the USA.
Even though we were both white men, we felt it was incredibly necessary for men like us to show solidarity for women and other oppressed groups in the United States on such a rough time for those groups. As well, it was incredibly eye-opening to see how people could come together at such a rough time.
At the beginning of this year I set out to complete my out of school community service hours with a nonprofit organization since I had previously been relying on larger events that the school offered. I decided to join a new club named CHAI, Children’s Hardships Awareness Initiative to help make an impact on less fortunate children. The club soon partnered with an organization named Hyolmo Society of America, a community center located in Queens that aimed to aid children of Nepalese immigrants in Queens. They had asked us to help tutor some of these children on the weekends. Almost every Sunday the club dedicates two hours to help tutor. When we were first emailed about this opportunity by the club leaders they said that the organization was very excited for us to help and that about twenty-five children would be waiting for us.
When I first came to a tutor session on Sunday I did not realize how many different ages would be present. One of the club leaders brought some homemade brownies for the kids to eat while we helped them with their various homework assignments. The parents sat in a small room to the side of ours and would come in at times to check in on their kids progress. Some of the children who were younger and did not have any homework would draw on the big whiteboards provided to us by the community center. At the end of each session we dedicated about ten minutes for a small game such as four corners, red light green light, simon says, or musical chairs. At the end of each session when we drove away together the younger kids would wave to us as we disappeared out of sight.
Over the summer the boys varsity soccer team went on a service trip in Tobago. Our coaches, Warren and Sherwin, are from Tobago and we were therefore able to immerse ourselves into the culture of the island. We visited many of the beautiful sites on the island, my favorite of which was a set of waterfalls that we were able to swim in. We were also allowed to jump into the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls which made for an incredible experience. We also swam, hiked, and played tons of soccer. We played against many top teams that got us ready for the season ahead. We spent five days there allowing me to form a close bond with many of my teammates. The most important part of the trip and most morally rewarding was when we ran clinics for the kids there. At first, I did not expect to have so much fun running the clinics as I wouldn’t be playing myself, but in the end I had so much fun getting to know the kids. At the end of the clinics we organized cleats that we would end up giving out to those who participated. Seeing how happy they got when they received their new cleats was an incredible experience for me. We worked with St. Claire’s Coaching School and Bishop’s High School when running these clinics. This trip was very rewarding because we were able to get ready for the big season ahead physically and also able to train and give equipment to the kids there.
Towards the end of the summer vacation, the Varsity Boy’s Soccer Team flew out to Tobago. Our two coaches, Warren and Sherwin, were born there but left to pursue their careers in soccer and coaching. They have built an outstanding relationship for the Friends Seminary soccer team over the years and wanted to give back to their community. With the help of Kleats for Kids the team took our service trip Tobago. That week we woke up early to give coaching clinics to children and donate cleats to all of them, and played games at night against the locals. The smoldering heat and the dripping sweat was all worth it to see the smile on the kids faces. We went around to all the local spots that the coaches knew and learned as much as we could about their culture in a week. It was an incredible experience to bond as a team, but more importantly bond with all the kind and welcoming Tobagonians.
This summer I volunteered at the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. I was there for 4 weeks in total, volunteering Mondays and Tuesdays from 9-5 and Thursdays from 12-8. I have always been interested in psychology so any experience in the field really interests me.
During my days at the BCAC , I would offer my assistance to anyone who needed help, especially a CFS, a Clinical Forensic Specialist, because they were always on their feet working on multiple cases. A lot of the time I would supervise children and engage them in the play area. This gave me the opportunity to have more experience with little kids. In the office, I helped with scanning and filing charts electronically, which allowed me to improve on my organization skills. I would also conduct research for the clinical forensic specialists’ team on organizations, their missions and contact persons. This also allowed me to improve on my research skills. I prepared data and outcome for expedited case reviews by arranging the information appropriate for management meeting. This let me have an “in” with the live cases to understand more about the line of work but always in a professional manner so to keep all the information confidential. Lastly, I would often help organize therapeutic rooms to create a safe and friendly environment for clients during their weekly or monthly visits.
I really enjoyed my volunteer experience at the Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. The staff help so many parents and children- the work they do is amazing.
I spent this summer at Farm and Wilderness Summer Camps, located in Plymouth, Vermont, in a camp called Tamarack Farm. This is a quaker camp, where all campers are disconnected from all devices and must rely on their heads and hands to get them through the day. I spent 6 and a half weeks at Tamarack Farm and learned a lot about myself and what I can do for those around me.
Farm and Wilderness has 3 fully functioning, year-round farms. During the summer, campers are asked to help out with the farm and garden. Barn chores happened at 6:00 am and 4:00 pm every single day, 365 days out of the year. For 3 weeks, I went to barn chores every single day, often alternating between morning chores and afternoon chores. For the rest of the 6 weeks, I went as often as possible, which was usually every other day. Barn chores consisted of feeding and giving water to all the animals (we had 4 cows, 1 calf, 1 ram, 1 goat, over 15 sheep, over 30 chickens, 3 rabbits and one gigantic pig), milking the cows, walking the cows, collecting the eggs in the afternoon, brushing the rabbits, turning the compost and herding the sheep when they needed to be moved. Going into the summer, I had some experience working on a farm, but not very much. A few summers ago I attended another camp where working on the farm was optional, and I only went a handful of times. This summer I became very aware of how difficult it is to work on a farm for a long period of time. I understand that I only was asked to go for a few weeks, and people often do this for a living, and it made me much more appreciative of the food I have in my refrigerator. It was quite life-changing to create a relationship with an animal that was sent away to be slaughtered and then brought back to be eaten at the end of the summer. I found it much harder to eat the meat from a cow that I had fed and brushed and walked and it gave me a different view of the food that we eat everyday. Everyday after we finished taking care of the animals, we’d spend the remaining time in barn chores (which was usually are 1.5 hours) working in the garden. We pulled weeds, squished bugs and every tuesday and friday we harvested what was ready.
We often were fortunate enough to eat what was harvested, though sometimes a certain crop wouldn’t make it through the summer too well, for instance this summer our kale was demolished by bugs, which is one of the very few down sides on not using any chemicals on our plants to get rid of bugs. It was an amazing experience to be able to carry what we had grown 200 hundred feet to our kitchen where we’d cook it and serve it for dinner. A lot of effort was put into the garden and it was such a rewarding experience to see it grow so well and be able to enjoy it’s freshness. One very important thing we did this summer was one day we hiked up to a farm about 3 miles from camp, and we collected hay for our animals. It was an extraordinarily hot day and we hiked 3 miles up a mountain to the farm where we’d be collecting our hay. There was a large machine that would drive around and collect the hay and put it into bales, which we would then collect and put into piles so the trucks could come around and collect it to bring back to our farm. Because of the heat and because the bales were so heavy and very itchy when they touch your skin, no one was very happy about the job. However, everyone knew that it was incredibly important that we brought the hay back to the farm, so that our animals had food for the winter. We knew if we didn’t do it, no one would. So we spent the entire day baling 500 bales of hay, and then ran back down the mountain to put the hay into the hay loft, and it was an incredibly rewarding day.
This year, Mayor Christopher C. Louras of Rutland, Vermont, announced Rutland would be taking in 100 Syrian refugees at the end of the summer. Many people of Rutland were not pleased with this idea. They seem to believe that the refugees have no place in Vermont and that “To bring in 100 Syrians refugees is absolute lunacy,” according to Timothy Cook, a doctor at Rutland’s urgent care, in his interview with Chicago Tribute. So this summer, Farm and Wilderness wanted to make it clear that they are looking forward to Rutland taking in the refugees and are offering a welcoming community. Many campers, including myself, were on a mission to create welcome baskets for each Syrian family. We decided it would be nice to include vegetables and other produce from our farm and in addition, we decided to carve 100 spoons and spatulas out of the scrap wood we had at the farm. We realized that the project was a bit ambitious a little too late and only got to about 86 spoons and spatulas, but some of the staff promised to have the rest done before the refugees are set to come in September.
Racial Justice was a very big topic of discussion at Tamarack Farm. Every Thursday night we gathered together as a community and discussed social justice and what we as socially-conscious teens could do. Every counselor at this camp had some issue that was very important to them and were always open to discussing their involvement is social issues. One counselor in particular, Vida James, would often tell us her stories about her involvement with the fight for racial justice. By the end of the 2nd week, after 2 very emotional, eye-opening social justice nights, we as a community decided we wanted to do something to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. This was right after the death of 2 African American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We were able to watch the video that Castile’s girlfriend took during the aftermath of his death. We decided as a group that at the upcoming fair, where all of the Farm and Wilderness camps and the camper’s families would be in attendance, we would do a small performance. The day before, we created shirts for everyone that said “Black Lives Matter” and we learned songs that are often used in protests such as “I can’t breathe” and “We ain’t gonna stop till people are free”. The day of the fair, we did our performance while wearing our shirts and after we stopped singing, we held up signs of the people of color who have been killed by police brutality. It was an extremely moving experience and it taught me that I can do so much more than what I am currently doing. I can make a difference and there are so many ways that I can do that.
Every day I learned something new and did something that I could be proud of, whether it be working on the farm, preparing food, clearing trails, making spoons, or having long discussions about racism and social injustices in our world. I am able to look back on my 6 and a half weeks at Farm and Wilderness and know that I am a different person now than I was before. I am so much more aware of my surrounds and the things I take for granted every day. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn this summer and I’m so excited to take what I learned and apply it to my life outside of camp.
For my service requirement I helped coach and ref younger kids playing soccer. I worked with the Manhattan Kickers Recreational League at the Con Edison fields. Helping these young soccer players was challenging and very eye opening. I remember all those years ago, being in their position. When I was their age I remember having a favorite coach who everyone loved. I tried to fill position for them and help them learn as much as they could. It was a great experience and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
I really enjoyed learning about Flint and sharing the knowledge that I gained from my research with 5th and 8th graders. The United States has a huge problem with lead. Lead poisoning is not only a Flint problem it is a problem every where. During this project I learned that lead poisoning has occurred in California, Baltimore, and even upstate New York. Most of the places that are affected by lead are poor communities that are filled with a minority population. This really upset me which is why it was very important that this fact was mentioned in the presentations to the middle schoolers. The more people that know about the severity of lead poisoning as well as the United States problem with neglecting our poor minority communities, the more we as a community, city, and even nation can focus our attention on fixing these problems.
Over the course of a few weeks, I helped put up and take down the Friends Seminary Art show, SPICES, at the Magnan Metz Gallery. The art pieces displayed were created by students, alumni, and parents from the Friends Seminary Quaker community because “S.P.I.C.E.S” derives from the Quaker values (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship) that are the main core principles currently followed by Friends Seminary. When putting up the art, I, alongside other students and my advisor, Jesse Pasca, used hammers, drills, screws, and balancers to make sure the gallery looked very visually pleasing. When we had finished, it gave me great satisfaction to see the end result because we had worked both mentally and physically hard. It was also nice to see how talented the Friends community is as a whole and it was a great feeling to realize how many talented people I was/ am surrounded by. About two weeks passed and the show was ready to close. Jesse Pasca and I took down all the art pieces and wrapped them to give back to the artists or the art collectors. Because we did this on the night before school ended, it made me realize that all good things must come to an end.