Ashley’s Service Reflection

In September, I started volunteering to be a teacher’s assistant for Dance for Joy Ministries. Dance for Joy is my ballet school that I have been dancing with since the age of four. This year a new group of dancers, ages 6 to 12 have started taking classes. My ballet teacher asked my if I would be willing to come in on Saturdays, to help her with the class. I’m so glad I said yes because it was been one of the most rewarding experiences.

Every Saturday at 12:30 I go to Pearl Studios on 36th Street ad 8th Ave. One of the best things about volunteering to help is seeing all of the talent these little girls have. Seeing these girls learning their first ballet steps helped me to understand why my ballet teacher would have us practice basic skills like “plier” and “tendu”. The skills we learn when we first start taking classes set the groundwork that allows us to be able to become more advanced and perform more complicated combinations.

Additionally, getting to connect and joke around with the girls was really rewarding as it allowed me to be a role model. One of the little girls named Nyla said to me, “I’m afraid to move up to the big girls class. It seems hard. I don’t know how you do it. I’ll never be able to do that.” I smiled at her because I remembered feeling the exact same way. I told her if she keeps coming to class she would get better and better and before she knew it she would be dancing with the “big girls”. While I was an assistant I helped the girls with technique, make corrections, lead stretches and helped them practice their dances. I believe that doing all of these things helped me to become a better dancer because it allowed me to refresh and tighten up my technique as well.

I look forward to continuing to help out with the class and I hope to see all of the girls grow to be strong dancers.


Jared’s South Africa Reflection

Going to South Africa was life changing. Not only were we able to have an impact on the people we met and the places we went, we were able to look in the mirror and change ourselves and change the way we think. We were able to stay in a township with the people of Red Location, learn about their lives, learn about their culture, and their history. Developing a bond with the people of South Africa made the trip even more amazing. We were giving the opportunity to have authentic interactions with the people and do real work that would have an impact on their lives. One moment that sticks out is when we visited the Methodist Church of South Africa and we helped them with their community outreach. We went with members of the church into the homes of people who could not make it to church and needed extra support spiritually, emotionally, and with their living supplies. Seeing the impact the church was able to make on its home-stricken members was very eye-opening. It also made me feel more aware of the different types of outreach provided by various groups.

Zara’s Time with GO Project

This July I worked with GO Project to help provide extra support to children who were falling behind in school, often due to educational inequity.  I worked in a classroom of students entering the fourth grade and helped to improve their math and writing skills.  We mainly worked on multiplication and division and how to properly structure a paragraph.

Working with GO Project was an extremely enriching experience.  I could see the change in my students abilities from the beginning of the program to the end.  Along with working with the students, I also participated in daily professional development sessions where all the student interns discussed issues in our society including educational inequity, micro aggressions, and how to make a difference.

GO Project works hard to fight educational inequity in our school system, and I enjoyed working with them this summer.


Grace Lopez: AIDS Walk

Before the AIDS Walk, I had never walked (or even ran) a mile for a cause. I can say that it was an amazing experience! Considering I did it with my closest friends, Coraya and Adrian, the whole experience was twice as fun. Seeing thousands of people walk side by side (nonstop) made me think about how dedicated and influential a group of people could be. Besides seeing water after checkpoint three, all the given moral support by the people administering the AIDS Walk was the highlight of the walk. I remember waking up early in the morning to meet with other people from Friends, and feeling hyped and excited for the day. However, the best feeling was crossing the finish line, not because of the feeling of self-accomplishment, but because I participated in something far greater than myself. I loved the idea of walking with a group of people that wanted to make a difference, just like I did. In a way, the community feeling that comes with being a student at Friends, is the same feeling I got from walking for the AIDS walk.


Theo Schneider Summer Service Reflection

During the summer, I went with Global Works on a service trip to Puerto Rico. The purpose of the trip was not only to help the local villagers in the town of Bolas with contraction projects, but also to learn from Puerto Rican culture and the Spanish language. Although we did many tourist-oriented things, such as a walking tour of San José and zip lining through the rainforest, the most memorable part was the service. We helped Bolas build a cement shed for the doctor, who comes twice a month, to keep their medical supplies, as well as helping build a wall around the local church. During this time we participated in home stays, where the families spoke only Spanish. Although my friend who stayed with me in my house spoke Spanish very well, I was struck by how much we were separated by language. I was also surprised at how much they were willing to sacrifice to feed two extra people, as their whole town is relatively impoverished, although not dangerous. They even went out of their way to sleep in one room while we slept in our own room. It was truly humbling to experience their personal sacrifice up close. I was glad that I was able to learn so much about a different language, culture, and society at the same time as giving to the local people.

Ashley’s Peru Reflection


For my 2015 Spring Break, I went to Peru with 12 other students. It was an extremely rewarding experience and one that I feel everyone should have a chance to experience. The start of our trip was a little rough because our flight was delayed until the next day and then another hour and a half on Sunday March 15. However, once we arrived in Lima all of the trouble didn’t seem to matter anymore. When we arrived in Lima, we went to a local park and sat on the grass. We then had an amazing lunch where I tasted cerviche for the first time, and then headed back to the airport for our flight to Juliaca. We stayed in a hotel in Juliaca our first night, and from that point we lived everyday to the fullest. Over the course of 2 weeks, we visited Puno, Cusco, and The Amazon Rainforest. One the most memorable moments for me was when we visited the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca and got to meet some of the people that lived there. They were so welcoming and friendly and it was amazing to see how efficient the people living on these islands were. Walking through the streets of Puno and visiting markets and churches was also a great experience. One day, after we went to dinner we were taking a city tour of Puno and a family came up to me and asked if their children could take a photo with me. At the time I thought it was strange, but it is a moment I will never forget.

This trip was in collaboration with a program called Envoys. We had three leaders from Envoys who were on our trip with us. Angela, Flaco and Ahava are honestly some of the nicest, spirited, open-minded and adventurous people I have ever met. I can’t imagine going on a trip with any other leaders. Another amazing place we visited on our trip was Machu Picchu. After waking up at 4:30, and hiking the Inca Trail surrounded by fog, one might think that the experience wasn’t as enjoyable. However, when the fog cleared up, Machu Picchu was one of  the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Seeing Machu Picchu after learning about the Incas throughout our trip really made me appreciate their architecture and skill.

We spent our final days in the Amazon Rainforest where we completed our service project. We planted different types of trees such as cacao, mango and banana. After planting, one of the families we met gave us grapefruit and coconut water to cool down. Hearing all the sounds while we were planting reminded me of how lucky I was to be able to be doing what I was doing. The following day we planted trees on the land of a man named Felix. He told us about his life and taught us how to use his bow and arrow. I wasn’t very good at it but it was great to see all of my friends and chaperones try as well.

Traveling to Peru provided me with an experience that I will never forget and I hope to continue to travel to different parts of the world and experience other cultures as well.

Zara’s Experience in Peru

Over spring break, I participated in the school trip to Peru in partnership with Envoys.  We spent two amazing weeks in Peru, visiting Lima, Juliaca, Puno, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon.  I loved being immersed in Peruvian culture, from eating their delicious food to speaking their language.  I also loved staying with my host family, since I got to really see what everyday life was like in Peru and experience living in a household where no one knew English.  While we were in the Amazon, we helped to plant around 75 trees with the locals.  It was crazy hot while we planted, but a great experience to get to hold a sapling and bury it in the ground, knowing that in a few years it will be taller than me and growing mangos or cacao beans or lemons or pomellas or any of the other fruits of the types of trees we planted.  It only took us an hour to plant the first 50 trees, and I thought how amazing it would be if everyone could take an hour out of every day just to plant trees.  Overall, the Peru trip definitely expanded my view of the world by allowing me to experience life in another country, and learn how different it could be.  For example, in my home stay, my mom was surprised to find out that there are a lot of homeless people in New York.  She said that in Cusco, the government provides easy jobs to otherwise homeless people to help them afford shelter (or something close to that; it was in Spanish so I’m not completely sure.)  I had an amazing experience in Peru, and I’m hope the school continues to provide these global trips so other students can have a similar experience.

1897933_811743325586779_2941863347310900974_nMali, Carly, and I with our host families.

DCIM102GOPRO Planting trees in the Amazon.

IMG_0806 At the Moray ruins.IMG_1019 At Machu Picchu.IMG_1130At the Uros Floating Islands.

Zara’s Service Reflection

This July I went on a trip with other teens from around the world.  During the course of this trip, we lived by a Leave No Trace standard where we left every campsite cleaner than we found it.

We also participated in two service projects, one picking up trash in Sequoia National Park and the other pulling weeds in the Ring Mountain reserve.  Both experiences were very rewarding because we knew we were allowing other camp groups to have a more enjoyable and pure experience of nature.



^Picking up trash in Sequoia National Park

Jared’s Service Reflection

YPI Reflection

The social issue my group and I chose was youth education in New York City. We chose this issue because we had a few common values, which were personal growth, family, and opportunity. We felt that all of these values reflect some aspect that education affects a child. With these values in mind the organization we chose was the GO Project. The GO Project is a non-profit organization that provides year round educational and family support for elementary and middle school students that are performing under grade level. The GO Project has educators and social workers that help the students gain the confidence that they need to improve their learning skills.  The GO Project serves 550 students from 30 public schools throughout Lower Manhattan and Chelsea. They service the students in 4 private schools in Lower Manhattan with their headquarters in the Grace Church School.


When we first discussed the idea of doing an organization that deals with youth education I questioned that wouldn’t the solution be simple. But when I researched what the GO Project does and how they work focus on the needs of every individual kid, it showed me that it wasn’t just about helping them get smarter. It was about instilling the confidence in the kids that they could become better students. I also learned that it was not only the academic aspect that would affect the child’s learning ability. The parents of these struggling children would be unaware of how to help their child. The GO Project would work with the families of the children to improve their awareness and abilities to have their child succeed in improving their educational skills. The way I could most effectively stay engaged with the GO Project would to join their summer program and become a volunteer. That way I would personally help improve the skills of a student in need of help.


Ashley’s YPI Service Reflection


This is a mural the teen mothers and staff painted together that is located in the Cafeteria at the facility.

This is a mural the teen mothers and staff painted together that is located in the Cafeteria at the facility.

When we visited around Valentine's Day, this heart tree was hanging up in the Cafeteria and it was made by the mothers and children.

When we visited around Valentine’s Day, this heart tree was hanging up in the Cafeteria and it was made by the mothers and children.

This is a designated area for the mothers to feed the children.

This is a designated area for the mothers to feed the children.

Covenant House Five Principles

Ashley Thompson


World History I

8 May 2014

YPI Service Learning Reflection

The social issue my group chose to research was Teen Pregnancy.  The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy out of all other developing countries. Teen Pregnancy is especially a problem in New York City and can lead to things such as poverty, unemployment, and homelessness for the mothers and the children. Children of teen moms are more likely not to graduate high school than children whose mothers are over the age of 22.  Rather than put down teen mothers and shame them like some of former Mayor Bloomberg’s campaigns have done, we wanted to pick an organization whose goal is to help the teen mothers and put them back on their feet.

The non-profit organization we chose is Covenant House. We specifically focused on Covenant House’s Mother and Child Program because it directly addressed our social issue. The facility we visited was specifically for Covenant House’s Mother and Child Program located at 427 W 52nd St.  Covenant House is a Catholic organization so they can’t educate teenagers about birth control, but they can educate the girls about STDs and provide support and a home for them if they are pregnant. Covenant House’s Mother and Child Program’s mission is to “help these determined mothers and pregnant teenagers secure a brighter, more stable future for themselves and their babies”. During our site visit everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and overall it was a very rewarding experience.

To some extent, this project affected how I look at teen pregnancy. My cousin Erica got pregnant at a young age and had her son Bailey at the age of 18. I thought Erica had been irresponsible and would have to struggle, but that wasn’t the case because Erica had a family to support her. By visiting Covenant House I realized what an effect having even a little support can do for a teen mother. Instead of making girls feel bad and looking at them disapprovingly, I can only think about what types of responsibilities they must have and how much is needed to really support a child. Instead of campaigns shaming teen mothers I want there to be more awareness for places these girls can go to get help, like Covenant House.

This project really helped me with my leadership skills, public speaking skills, and writing skills. Once we got in contact with Covenant House, I wanted Ms. Renata Alexis, the person in charge at the Mother and Child Program, to know that we really cared about this issue. This meant staying in contact with her, making sure everyone knew what time we were meeting and taking detailed notes during out site visit. Also, presenting in front of a panel of judges as well as my peers about a topic that I became very passionate about was nerve racking, but once I connected with the project the presentation seemed easy. Furthermore, the emails we sent to Renata had to be professional and well written. Having a template to look at and models of good emails I feel that my ability to write important emails has improved.

Trying to fit everything we got out of our site visit into one presentation and keep everyone engaged while showing them how great Covenant House is was very challenging, but I think we managed to do it to the best of our ability. The most important thing for me, was to raise awareness for Covenant House and show the girls that they aren’t alone or weak.

Acknowledgments: None

Works Cited: