Sophie’s Summer Service Experience

This summer I spent two weeks as a volunteer research assistant to Dr. Markel Allaberia at a the Goldman Lab at Columbia University. The Goldman Lab works specifically on Alexander’s Disease, a fatal neuro degenerative disease similar to MS found in young children. With Dr. Allaberia, we extracted the spinal cords to diseased and healthy mice and immuno stained the spinal cord slices. We stained the spinal cords for myelin basic protein (MBP), a protein essential for oligodendrocyte function, Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), what is believed to be indicator of Alexander’s Disease, and the DNA, so we could locate each individual cell. After performing the stains twice, we looked at the slides under the microscope and obtained the image below.



All the blue is DNA, in order to isolate each individual cell, the red is MBP, and the green is (GFAP). The work I did with Dr. Allaberia was very preliminary. Most researchers of Alexander’s Disease study the brain, however Dr. Allaberia wanted to see the results of similar stains that he usual preforms on the brain on the spinal cord, as it is essential part of the nervous system.

The Mirror: Abigail’s Summer Service Reflection

This summer I had a volunteer internship with the organization Generation Citizen. Generation Citizen is a non-profit that works to teach civic engagement to underprivileged high school students. It designs semester or year-long civic courses that are run by volunteers called Democracy Coaches. Students are made aware of their powers in society in regards to the action-making process (lobbying, defending themselves legally, etc.). I worked as a development intern, researching donors for the cause.

Through my internship, I realized how hard it is to keep a non-profit afloat. As someone who focused on fundraising, I found that the team is always working to find new donors and new grant opportunities. It gave me perspective on how hard the people in charge of nonprofits work–they are always dealing with multiple things at a time. I also learned how nonprofits work with the local government to get their goals accomplished. Overall, I realized that there are multiple logistical challenges to running a nonprofit. It was inspiring to work with such driven individuals, and to learn how dedicated the students are, with many of them going beyond the parameters of the civics course and getting involved in local government.


Generation Citizen’s Website 


Tyler’s Service Reflection

This spring break, I traveled to Jordan with the Arabic class. Our trip was focused on the water scarcity epidemic in Jordan. We met with FOEME, Friends of The Earth Middle East, and their NGO, Abdul Rahman, the human database. He informed us of his ideas and beliefs about the future of Jordan and how it will obtain water. We practiced events such as role play with different people involved in the water proportionment of that area of the Middle East. I learned that Israel and Syrian Dams are reducing the amount of water in the Yarmuk River, which funnels into the Jordan river.  I enjoyed this trip so much, and I learned a ton about how Jordan is not receiving efficient amounts of water. I would like to thank FOEME so much for you information about the issue and the solution.

Abigail’s Experience with Empty Bowls

            On April 24, I made a bowl in the Ceramics Studio to contribute to Empty Bowls. It was my first time learning how to make a bowl and participating in the project. There were a couple of other upper schoolers there. Phyllis showed us how to use the coil method. Since I had little ceramics experience, it was a bit challenging figuring the process out, but everyone was very helpful. Students in the Ceramics class helped teach us how to make the bowls. Lower schoolers also helped me perfect my bowl, since they had already participated in Empty Bowls and knew the ropes. It was a great way to interact with them and learn from their expertise—it’s not every day that you get to learn something from a lower schooler! It was really fun to see the differences in types of bowls—some had very uniform coils, some were made of just one coil, and some had a lot of different types of coils intertwined. Everyone put a lot of energy into making the bowls, which inspired me to try my hardest. I am grateful for everyone in the studio’s help and I am sure that the ice-cream social will be very successful. It was great getting to meet and learn from new people and, at the same time, contribute to a worthy cause.

photo 3

smoothing out my bowl

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my finished bowl!

Teaching Children to Swim

This summer I helped teach children to swim at a local pool. The kids I worked with specifically were 3-7 years old and were very beginner swimmers. All of them had to wear “bubbles”, flotation devices that were strapped onto their backs, whenever they swam because otherwise they could not stay afloat on their own. Each lesson session was 2 weeks long and at the first lesson the kids were often so nervous they would cry the entire time in the water. I taught each kid how to kick, swim on their front, swim on their back, and jump off the side of the pool. Maybe, if they were brave enough, they would jump off the diving board at the end of lessons. Near the end of the two weeks, we would have the kids swim a lap of the pool without the bubbles or a noodle, all by themselves. We were right next to them walking alongside the entire time, just in case they needed help but almost all of them could swim by themselves by the end of the two week which was a huge improvement from crying on the first day.

I think my work is reflective of Woolman’s quote “Stewardship is a coming together of our major testimonies. To be good stewards in God’s world calls on us to examine and consider the ways in which our testimonies for peace, equality, and simplicity interact to guide our relationships with all life.” Being a competitive swimmer and knowing to swim myself started with swimming lessons at a town pool as well, I feel it is necessary to give back to a community that gave me so much. Additionally, teaching these kids to swim is only a step further to making drowning no longer the leading cause of death in children.

Interning with Free the Children

This summer I interned at the head quarters of Free the Children and their associate organizations.  Free the Children is an organization started in Toronto by a 12-year old, named Craig Keilburger, who read an article with the headline: Battled Child Labor, Boy, 12, Murdered.  The story was about Iqbal Masih, a former child slave who had traveled around the world speaking out against his former captors.  When he returned to his home in Pakistan, Iqbal was murdered.  That day, Craig went to his 7th grade class, stood up and said “I don’t know much about child labor, but I want to know more. Who’s with me?” 11 kids raised their hands, and that was the start of Free the Children.  Craig and his friends began to meet in Craig’s house to learn about the issue of child labor.  As they gained more and more information, they began to speak in classrooms and conference halls, in front of students, labor unions, and government officials.  Their biggest grant came from the Ontario Federation of Labor who pledged $150,000.  This enabled the organization to run for a number of years.  But now, 18 years later, Free the Children is now a world-wide organization.  They now have events called WeDays throughout Canada, the United States, and the UK.  A WeDay is a large scale event to honor world changers.  20,000 students who have done both a local service action and a global service action get to go to this event to be inspired! I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer at one of these events on September 20th in Toronto.

 My job at We Day Toronto was to be a “Crowd Pumper” which means that it was up to the 500 of us to set the tone for the event, so we were supposed to wildly cheer at everything.  This idea is perfectly summarized by this instruction from our cheat sheet: “On Your Feet! GO BANANAS!”.  I was lucky that my group was assigned to the floor of the event space, and even more lucky in that there was an open seat that was 5 rows from the stage. This meant that over the course of the event I was standing 1 bodyguard away from Demi Lavato, got a high five from Scott from mash, and spoke to Jacob Artist from Glee.

Walking into the giant stadium for the first time was awe-inspiring.  I had never been in a stadium that big (25,000 seats) and it looked so big!!! On every seat there was bag with items from sponsors: sun glasses, refillable water bottles, and, my favorite, impact bracelets that, when you clapped your hands, would light up.

Looking back over the event, the one speaker who stands out the most in my mind is the Canadian Astronaut, Chris Hadfield, who was the first Canadian to walk in space and the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.  One highlight from his speech was when, to give us a sense of what the landscape of space looks like, the lights were turned off and we were told to clap our hands.  As I turned around, looking at the sea of lights, 20,000 of them, I was struck by the shear enormity of what this represented.  Every single light represented a person committed to making a change. As Craig put it, “we are the generation that we have been waiting for.”  Every single person in that room knew that they could change the world, that is 20,000 world changers.  If you look at Martin Luther King Jr., you can see how much one person can do, not by himself though, every great leader needs just as great followers, and those people in that room are going to be world changers.  As Martin Luther King III, the older son of Martin Luther King Jr., had everyone in the room chant, “I believe… All across our nation and the world… We… Are gonna be… a great generation.” With a room filled with people like that, as Chris Hadfield said, “The sky is NOT the limit.”  Everyone in that room, and everyone reading this, has the potential, no, the obligation, to change the world!!!!


What is WeDay

The Impact of WeDay

Chris Hadfield singing a song he with the barenaked ladies from space (They sang it at WeDay)

Molly Burke


This post is not yet complete, more will be added.

Miranda’s Service Reflection on Reunion

I volunteered to help out at the Friends Seminary Reunion this year. I helped cover the front desk and welcome the alumni back to Friends, which proved to be an interesting experience where I learned a lot about other students’ experiences here. I also took photos of the alums that reconnected with their friends and former teachers at Reunion. Being able to learn about other classes of my school was a rewarding experience and made me happy when I saw friends who had not seen each other since high school catch up and look back on the fun times that they had spent together. I find that helping out at school events is a fantastic way to involve yourself in the community, and specifically at Reunion, is a fun way to learn about the school’s past. I think that it is interesting how as I watched these faded connections become strong again, I began thinking about how my first reunion will be.

I find that volunteering at Reunion was an amazing and rewarding experience for me as a new student to connect with the alumni. I plan on helping out at Reunion next year as well.

Tyler’s Summer Service Reflection: Project Hawaii

Hawaii Community Service – Tyler Chonoles

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This summer I went to Hawaii to do community service. I went with 45 other kids from the tri-state area to the main island, where 20 of us worked at a camp. This camp was called camp aloha, which involved 20 natives who were the campers. The camp was free, and most of these camper’s families were either very poor, or were missing one or both of their parents. Most of these kids could not rely on receiving dinner when they went home after a day of camp.

At the beginning of the summer, all of the teenagers got paired up with a camper, and we had to act as their guardian for the 3 weeks that camp existed. My buddy was a 10-year-old named Josiah. During the morning of every day, we would have circle time, where we would share stories and play games such as ride that pony, or Mr. button man. Everyone really loved these games, so it brought me joy when I saw them having fun.

After circle time, we would have arts and crafts. Arts and crafts would consist of making paper bag faces, etc, or on special occasions such as the 4th of July, making an American flag out of Popsicle sticks. My buddy Josiah did not like arts and crafts, so I had to figure out many different mechanisms to making him join in and participate with the rest of the group.

Later, we would have sports time. Games during sports time would consist of capture the flag, spud, and many others. Josiah absolutely loved sports time, mainly because he was faster and stronger than many other people. Although this was the case, he loved helping people out and teaching them skills.

The whole experience this summer taught me about a whole different world that is separated from the world of private schools in Manhattan. Not only did I teach these kids many things, they taught me a lot; maybe more than I had taught them.


Sophie’s Birthdays in a Box Service Experience

At My Big FAT Service Day, I helped put together Birthday’s In a Box. These are, most literally, all the supplies needed for a child to hold a birthday party put into a box. There are candles, party hats, party favors, arts and crafts, plates, cups, wrapping paper, and even a birthday card and present for the birthday child. These boxes are then distributed to children living in shelters who might not normally have the means to have a birthday party. This way, not only is their day celebrated, but they get to celebrate with their friends and family. I specifically helped make birthday cards for these kids, decorating them with good birthday wishes and bright colors in order to make their day unique and special.

While making the boxes, I was able to reflect more about the opportunities that are given to me that if often take for granted, such as birthday celebrations. Having a birthday party or celebration has always been a regular thing for my family to do on my birthday, and I am happy that I could bring the same joy that I feel on my birthday to a child that may not have that opportunity. While decorating the cards I also thought specifically about how the card i made could bring happiness to a kid who I do not even know. It was really special for me to think about how such a small and simple task, such as making a birthday card and putting together the means to have a birthday celebration, could make such great memories in one child’s life.

Sophie’s Service Experience

Throughout this year, every Wednesday, I helped out with a lower school gym class at Friends. I helped set up games and organize them into groups, but most of the time I played the games with them and made sure everything ran smoothly. Often times, the second graders would get into arguments with each other about whether they had really been tagged out or if they were in a group with people they did not want to be with. Therefore, my responsibility was to help them find a happy medium, where they could both be happy and learn to get along with their peers. After spending a year with them, I was able to see their class grow closer. Recently, when playing a game of “Army Dodgeball” where someone had to be chosen as the general (a person who could not get hit, or else the game would be lost), I choose a quiet more soft spoken second grader. When another teammate complained about not being chosen as the general,  the rest of the team stood up for the chosen general and supported him. Through this service experience I have learned the importance of working together and respecting one another by watching the second graders learn the same. Hopefully after this year, the second grade class learned to support each other and cooperate in order to work together.