During the last few months of school I have worked with a 5th grade basketball team called the Brooklyn Kings. I have helped coaches and parents with pratice, teaching the kids basketball, and even mentoring then. The kids were great, I think I have learned more from them then they have from me! They were full of energy all they time, and a lot to deal with. Although they were rambuctious at times, they always knew when to settle down. I had a great experience and I look forward to doing that again.
For my in-school community service requirement I served as a peer-tutor working in the Academic Center. My initial priority was to focus on 9th grade geometry with my peer-tutee, however this shifted to all his courses, English, Spanish, History, and Physics. We coordinated to meet every Thursday 1st period with our first session conducted in October and our last in June. For the majority of our 45 minute periods we would work collectively on his homework while going over areas of the subject that were difficult. In many cases I would give practice problems for him to try on his own. In some instances we would spend the majority of the meeting preparing for an upcoming quiz or test.
I spent 45 minutes every week with my peer-tutee for 7 months, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. Not only was I able to help someone excel further in school, but I was also able to make a new friend. It is also a great feeling to see someone improve their ability as a student, and seeing your own impact on the student is fantastic. Our sessions were also quite entertaining while holding a level of seriousness. Jokes were tossed around here and there however, and the moments before and after our meetings were usually good times for bonding as friends. Serving as a peer-tutor was a very rewarding experience, and one I will always cherish. I hope to continue my role as a peer-tutor in further years to further my impact on others and to continue to give back to the community.
Just before Christmas break, I signed up to go “elfing.” The purpose of this experience was to get a bag full of gifts from an organization called Visiting Neighbors, (http://www.visitingneighbors.org/) and to call an elderly citizen whose name would be provided by the organization, in order to arrange a visit. A small group including myself had all been assigned people from the same building, so we walked over and paid our respective visits.
I was not expecting what I saw when my friend and I arrived at the apartment. Our visitee had an a assistant who saw us into her room, as she was in very poor health. She was bedridden and looked exceedingly frail, and I almost didn’t want to disturb her rest by giving her the bag of gifts. Her assistant gently woke her. When my friend and I announced our names, she smiled and asked us how old we were and if we attended school in the city, among other questions. We replied to all of her questions and then presented her with the bag, at which point she simply shook her head and requested that we put it in the corner of the room. It was clear at this point that she needed to rest, but she thanked us for our visit and expressed a wish for us to come again sometime.
I was pleasantly surprised by this experience. I had been warned by representatives from Visiting Neighbors that clients could be unwilling to have company. While I suppose I had not anticipated her frailty, I was grateful that our visitee agreed to the visit and was seemingly able to enjoy the company. “Elfing” was a very positive experience for me.
I’m the host of a travel web-series called Booker Travels that is meant to encourage kids to get out of the house and explore the world. Every year we try to go on three trips and usually come back with enough content to produce five episodes. These five episodes show the featured locations through the eyes of a younger generation rather than some adult standing in front of a museum and reading a script. Our goal isn’t to educate people with facts that they could have just googled, but to give our viewers a taste of what other parts of the world are like. My travels always give back to the community that we visit and also try to expand the horizons to whoever has access to the website.
Our show also always involve locals, who give us a taste of what life in these places is really like. Each of the episodes talk about either getting to the location, the local scene and culture, the cuisine, the surfing or skateboarding environment, and its contrasts with home. We find it very important to immerse ourselves in the culture to truly get the most out of our trips. In doing this we usual end up staying at a house rather than a hotel and spend a lot of time following locals and their daily routines. This year I traveled to San Francisco and Sri Lanka. On each of our trips I meet some amazing people, and some of their stories and the culture that surrounds them is exposed on our episodes. Our goal is to give the closest thing to a first hand experience and inspire kids to explore the world around them.
check out our website: http://bookertravels.com
check out our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/btravelsnetwork
Girl Rising is a documentary about a brave group of girls who get an education when the odds are stacked against them. The last story featured in the film is about a girl. Amina, from Afghanistan who married her cousin for a few thousand afghanis, which her parents used to buy her brother an old truck. Of all the stories in the movie, it seemed as though Amina had the least support from the people around her.
Although her story did not surprise me, Amina’s story touched me the most because I am an Afghan girl myself. Her story reminded me how lucky I am to be going to Friends Seminary, but it also reminded me how much girls in Afghanistan need more help. Before attending the screening, my father and I were brainstorming on how to help more girls in Afghanistan to receive an education. If we could help even one girl receive an education, it would be an accomplishment. Amina’s bravery was inspirational to me, and her hope for her future gave me hope for my future in helping girls in Afghanistan.
Her story also reminded me of Women for Afghan Women, an organization that helps Afghan women in Afghanistan and New York and advocates for their rights. I would like to volunteer with them over the summer or on the weekends.