Camilo YPI Reflection

When our group first chose our social issue, Police Brutality, I believe we all knew how important our issue was, but through working with the innocence project and doing more research into the issue, we all really found out how this issue determines American justice all over the country. Especially with visiting the Innocence Project head-quarters, and seeing the hard work they do to stop police misconduct and wrongful imprisonment, we all really saw how we have to fight for this cause. I think that through the project I really gained public-speaking skills, I worked very hard with my group to convince the YPI because we all were so dedicated to the Innocence Project’s mission.
At time’s I think we all found out how challenging it was to properly communicate how this issue was important to American citizens. I also found it hard to create a good presentation to make people understand our issue. But when we got up there, and gave a powerful presentation about our issue and what it means to this country and all it’s people, it felt the most rewarding. At that point I didn’t really care if we had won because we informed people about the importance of what we stand for.
I hope that in the following years I will be able to check in with the Innocence Project and continue to see the good work they’re doing every day. I also hope I can give a yearly contribution because I have seen how all Americans must take a stand against police brutality.



Bailey’s Experience in Peru


During spring break, I went on the school’s Spanish trip to Peru, which was organized by Envoys. We spent two weeks exploring the gorgeous country and visiting some of its well-known cities and landmarks such as Lima, Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, the Uros Islands, Machu Picchu, las Salinas de Maras, and Moray. Our tour guides each had different characters, allowing us to see various aspects of Peruvian culture. One of them studied archeology and had his very own theory about the Incas! Besides just hearing about Peru’s history and seeing its famous landmarks, we got to try Peruvian food everyday. Our diets consisted mostly of beef, chicken, rice, and potatoes, but I think I may have accidentally eaten alpaca once. We would usually come together as a group after dinner (whether it be at the hotel we were staying at or in a park before we were dropped off at our homestays) and discuss how the day went and how we were feeling, both emotionally and physically. One of our discussions focused on travelers v.s. tourists; more specifically, if we were travelers or tourists… or both? Although we saw a lot of groups of white or Asian elderly tourists at the restaurants we went to, we still stuck out wherever we went. Unlike in New York City, when you don’t think twice when you see hundreds of tourists who don’t speak English, we definitely stuck out to the Peruvians. On the first day we landed in Peru (in Lima), a few locals asked if they could take a picture of us. Our reply: yes, if you get in the photo with us! That was a first. We were definitely tourists.

The one time I didn’t feel like a tourist was when we were with our host families. Sure, we didn’t necessarily fit in at first and dinner conversations were awkward at first, but I doubt that most tourists visiting Peru get to stay in a Peruvian family’s house! Actually, I doubt that most, if not all, of the hundreds of thousands tourists visiting New York City have stayed with an American family for five nights! I was with my friend, Hailey, because I dreaded being all by myself with some random family I knew nothing about. Here I am now in New York missing everything so much! Our host mom, Véronica, was so sweet. Her two sons, Joaquín and Wagner (Jr.) were in school, so that had to eat together without me and Hailey because we would arrive at anywhere between 8:00-9:00 p.m. Despite our late arrival, Véronica would cook dinner for us whenever we showed up and sit with us, asking about our day. One day when we were in Cusco, our group had all the families eat at a restaurant (the one with alpaca). We had free time in the afternoon after lunch, but our host mom wanted to take me and Hailey to the mall! We saw Insurgent (Insurgente) at the mall’s movie theater. I don’t know exactly why, but that made me so happy. I really wanted to see the movie when I got back to the United States, and our host mom went out of her way to spend time with us. Our host dad, Wagner (Sr.), was never home when we were staying at their house. He is a tour guide at Machu Picchu, but he was our tour guide when we visited Machu Picchu! We were at Agua Calientes, and Hailey said, “I think that’s our dad.” It was…

We stayed at the EcoAmazonia lodge during the last few days of our trip. It was an amazing lodge/resort with a pool. We stayed in bungalows and only had electricity between 6:00-10:00 p.m. We were rushing to get ready for bed before 10:00 p.m., avoiding having to rely on a flashlight to light up our shower or attracting more mosquitoes. I got over 20 mosquito bites. The first night, we took a short stroll through the Amazon Rainforest and got in a boat, looking for caiman. Although we couldn’t find any, the man steering the boat turned the engine off, allowing the river to carry it downstream. It was so peaceful and silent. The moon and the stars were our only source of light. As we approached the EcoAmazonia lodge, we heard the annoying buzz of the generator (keep in mind it was earlier than 10:00 p.m.). It made me realize how disgusting and disruptive electricity is. I would always be blissful whenever we took the time to just sit down and have silent meeting. It gave us time to just settle down and appreciate the landscape. I was excited when we finally got to give back. After waking up/being woken up by monkeys around 6:00 a.m., we got on a boat and took a 8km hike. It was so muddy that all of my rain boots were covered in mud. It finally began to rain, but I have never seen so much rain in my life. I went from being hot and sticky to cool and drenched within seconds. Later, we attempted to go fishing with fishing poles made of a long stick, string, a hook, and a small hunk of meat. After discovering that none of us were natural-born fishers, we jumped in the river and swam. It was so nice to submerge ourselves in the water that we have been floating down the night before. The same day, we went to a family’s farm down the river and planted exactly 50 trees. We only had three digging tools, but we managed to get the work done quickly. They gave us fruit to eat after. We went to another family’s farm the next day, but their field had snakes in it, so we couldn’t plant all 50 trees. While we awkwardly waited for our boat to arrive, we got a quick lesson on how to shoot an arrow. I’m just really happy that we did something positive for the environment, giving back to the beautiful country of Peru and the two families.

I miss it so much. I miss the food, the culture, the people, my host family. There’s not one thing I don’t miss about Peru. I don’t even want to take back any bad things that happened in Peru, like when I fell at Machu Picchu (don’t worry, I fell AT Machu Picchu, not OFF Machu Picchu). I will continue to learn from these amazing two weeks. There’s so much I got out of this trip. Whenever I doubt myself, I remind myself how nervous I was for this trip, but everything turned out fine. Well, actually, it turned out to be incredible. I’d like to thank all of my classmates, Micah, Señor Quiñones, Ángela, Flaco, and Ahava for making it so great.

IMG_0705 IMG_1026 IMG_0711 IMG_0878_950_950

Yash’s Service Reflection for the St. James Church Dinner Service

On January 2nd, 2015, I volunteered to help with cooking, serving, and cleaning at the Saint James Church. This was my first out of school service done this year and it was very gratifying helping the homeless. We started by making food. We made shepard’s pie, salad, and brownies for the homeless. We then served all 75 of them. It was great seeing their eyes light up as we brought out the food. When serving them it felt gratifying looking at all of their happy faces seeing the fresh, delicious food. After everybody was finished with their food, we took their plates and cleaned up. Helping the needy is a very gratifying experience, and I am definitely going to help here again.


Sahar’s service reflection

On my spring break trip to Jordan, my classmates and I worked with an organization, Friends of the Earth Middle East, to learn about the environment and sustainability in Jordan. We got to see the effects of the water shortage in Jordan on our visits to the Dead Sea and the Yarmouk River. While staying at an eco-lodge, we spent time helping to make the lodge sustainable by filling bottles with sand and making a bird hut. There were many ways that the lodge was sustainable, like their compost system. A lot of what FOEME tries to do is raise awareness about environmental issues in Jordan, because for many people, there is limited understanding about the effects that humans can have on the environment. The service project was an interesting way to get to the know the country and we met some amazing people through our work with FOEME.

Afemi’s Service Reflection

I helped place new bedding in the crates of Homeless cats at petco. One of the things the representative for the organization told me was that if the cats they had rescued had been left in the street, they would have likely been taken to a shelter when they were discovered, where a lot of them would have been put down. Many of the cats were sick and sleeping, but the ones that were well enough to interact with us seemed very grateful to receive the handmade beds we gave them and especially the cat nip toys. I was glad to see that the cats were getting the help that they need from the dedicated people in the organization ( I can’t remember what it was called) and the love and company that they deserve.

Ilan’s Service Reflection

Service Day was a fantastic opportunity for the seniors.  We went to Yonkers to help a medical supply distribution agency.  This was the first service day in a very long time that I felt actually helped people.  We could see the fruits of our labor; we saw off a truck headed for Haiti.  It was very rewarding to help this agency also because they appeared to be very understaffed.  There were only 10 or so people there sorting tons (literally) of medical supplies.  So when we showed up, we saw how much we helped them to speed up their process.

Specifically, we helped them sort supplies into bags by exact type of supply.  Then, the bags were distributed into larger boxes based on the type of supply.  These were then further sorted and put into boxes where they were then put onto a crate headed for another country.  When they said they only had done 1200 or so crates, I though that that was a pretty low number.  But, when I saw the crate, I understood how much it was.  These crates were massive shipping containers that have to put on the backs of trucks; it was truly amazing.

Coda’s Experience Teaching Latin at Friends

Over last summer, from the second week of July to the third week of August, I tutored a few incoming freshmen students for the Friends Seminary Latin program. These freshman had never taken Latin before; however, since there was such a large volume of them, the administration was unwilling to place them all into Latin I, an eighth-grade class. Thus, they asked me (along with Catherine Lucey) to give these students an accelerated version of Latin I in two months. The program met four times a week from 10 to 1. I created a syllabus to follow based on the instructions and materials that I had received from Christel, which ranged from 1A to 2B in the Reading Latin text. This included all five declensions of nouns, basic uses of the different cases, all five conjugations of active verbs, an introduction to deponent verbs, and a large portion of vocabulary.

I administered lessons that taught this material; in addition, I also gave and graded several tests for each student. There were also portions of the class where I had the students translate a modified version of the Latin text of Aulularia, which tells the adventures and misfortunes of the miser Euclio who stumbles across a pot of gold that his grandfather buried, into English. I staggered the class so that some of them would be working on translating (with my helping) and others would receive a lesson from me.

I believe the program was a success and allowed several students to make an easeful transition into Latin II. Indeed, the program will be run again this summer, once again headed by me, now as an employee. I hope that I can continue to enrich and improve the Latin summer program, which hopefully may be extended to other languages, so that incoming students at Friends Seminary can receive the most they possibly can in their four years.

Jacob’s Service Reflection

Two weeks or so ago, I had the opportunity of performing with the Friends Jazz I ensemble as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Benefit Concert. The goal of the event, which happens around the same time each year, is to raise money for the Friends Shelter, a nightly 14-bed homeless shelter run out of the Friends common room. Our band opened for the Meetinghouse Jazz Band, a professional big band led by Bob Rosen, joined by tenor saxophonist Steve Wilson. When I think of community service, what generally first comes to mind is planting bulbs in a park or working in a homeless shelter. As a result, playing in the MLK concert each of the last four years has been a unique service experience for me—I’ve gotten to serve our community by doing something I love doing regardless of whether there’s a charitable cause involved.

I wonder, does service have to “feel” like service for it to be valuable to those doing the service? The way I see it, a large part of the reason we do service at Friends, in addition to helping others, is to grow from the experience of putting ourselves into often uncomfortable positions for others’ sake. I personally enjoy playing jazz regardless of whether my performance is for a good cause. But, given how much money and awareness the benefit concert raised, perhaps there’s nothing wrong with serving yourself in serving others.

Afemi’s Service Reflection

I saw Girl Rising at the screening last month. I found the stories compelling and inspirational. I realized that, as a girl, I have taken my education for granted, and, armed with the power of an education, I can do whatever I set my mind to. A lot of the girls in the stories documented in the movie were expected to be simply wives or mothers and focus only on their duties as wives and mothers. It saddened me that they were restricted to their domestic responsibilities and forced to observe an ‘only-speak-when-spoken-to’ policy. If women like Gloria Steinem had not been educated and had only spoken when they were spoken to, I would fade into the background and my voice would be lost completely. Thanks to my education and the work of the women who came before me, I have been blessed with the opportunity to share my voice, and do so with eloquence.

Max’s Experience in the 2013 AIDS Walk

This year I participated in the 2013 AIDS Walk. Run by GMHC, the world’s first AIDS organization, the AIDS Walk was a way for the community to get more involved in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. In the AIDS walk’s 28 years, nearly 900,000 people have been inspired to walk and donate. The AIDS walk gives anyone the opportunity to get involved and make a difference for an important cause.

It was a far from pleasant day on May 19th, clouds filled the sky and rain poured down. I prepared for a long day knowing that the weather would not clear up. However, when I arrived at the AIDS walk everything changed. I saw a horde of people with eager faces, ready to walk despite the horrible weather conditions. I did not understand. Then it hit me. These people believed in the cause so much that they didn’t care what they had to do to participate. This diligence made me start getting into it as well. I trudged through the rain and wind, and ended with a feeling of completion. I plan on participating in the AIDS Walk again next year.