Several students, teachers, and myself went to a march in Washington in D.C. to take part in the Ferguson protests. Although there were a lot of very large protests in New York City that day, we travelled so far because we wanted be part of the Friends presence in D.C., where there were people from all over the country. We marched towards the Capital Building where there were many speakers, including Reverend Al Sharpton and the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. It was moving both to hear the speakers and to see the crowd react in times of humor and sadness and determination. It felt so amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were so dedicated to making a change in the world.
Participating in the march really made me consider the movement itself and especially my role in it. As a white person, it is a slightly trickier role because I want to support the movement and yet I don’t want to detract from it. For instance, I chose not to chant “I can’t breathe” because white people can breath; our society was built to allow white people to breathe, so if I were to participate in that particular chant I would have felt as though I was devaluing the struggles of people of color in this country. Not to say that white people shouldn’t take part in the movement, but they should be there only to support and not to impose.
Over the summer I worked over a period of three days with the Alaskan Conservation Center. The Alaska Conservation Center takes in animals that have either been injured or “socialized.” A socialized animal is one that has become dependent on eating human food / trash, which poses a danger for both the animal and the human. They are taken in to the Conservation Center and given a place to live a consistent healthy life style free of danger. They house a plethora of different animals ranging from lynx to the famous alaskan grizzly bear. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, depending on how you think about it, my work there did not allow me to feed the grizzly bear. I cleaned the pens and the center as well as fed the herbivores which resided there. I helped feed moose, musk ox, an eagle, deer and elk. Although the work was difficult and tedious it was amazing to be able to work with the animals directly.
This experience as a whole reiterated my love for nature. Prior to visiting the conservation center I spent 5 days backpacking throughout the Chugach Mountain Range. The combination of a 5 day backpacking trip and these two days at the Conservation Center forced me to reconsider my view about nature and where I would like to live for the rest of my life. Before visiting Alaska I had wanted to live in a city, surrounded by tall buildings and endless complexity. Giving my time to these animals, surrounded by this beautiful landscape made me realize how over complicated city life truly is. I felt as though I could spend the rest of my life there, surrounded by the incredible mountain range. Helping the animals made me realize that nature is so intrinsically harmonious, and that it was this harmony that could bring me happiness. This service experience helped me realize that I don’t want to live in the city for all my life, that perhaps, living out in the wild would bring me to a level of happiness that I simply could not attain in the strict confines of the city.
Over the summer, I participated in a Soccer and Service program in Costa Rica. This was a trip organized by Globalworks, a company that offers different types of service trips to many parts of the world including Costa Rica, Spain, France, and Nepal. My group consisted of 10 kids and 2 leaders from various parts of the US.
Our trip started off in the city of Alajuela, where we practiced in a big soccer complex and played both with and against local teams.
After the first week was over, we travelled to a small city called La Lucha, where we did a homestay and where we did our service in a school called Escuela La Lucha. For 5 days, we mixed cement and dug up large rocks to build a concrete courtyard for the students to play sports, and painted a large mural of Costa Rica and its flag in a hallway. We also organized a small soccer tournament for the kids to play in where we each became a coach or a referee.
This was a great experience because we were able to help out a community by working hard and doing things that we love. It was very rewarding to watch the mural get finished, and watch the kids have a lot of fun playing soccer.
Costa Rica Soccer and Service: http://www.globalworkstravel.com/ssa/trips/costa-rica/costa-rica-language-immersion-2-week/
When I went to China for spring break, we went to a school in Beijing where children of migrant workers would attend. The school was small and in a very remote place within the city. When all of us went there we all had different tasks to do with the children. We played games, taught them some English phrases, and showed them music from our country. It was really nice because by the end of the day the children basically fell in love with us. We formed a connection with each other and I realized that service brings people together. We also did some chores there too to help out around the school.
Last December, several of my peers and myself participated in a
three-day conference on human rights at the United Nations. It was an
incredibly valuable experience. We got to listen to and learn from
students from across the tri-state area, as well as Mexico, Canada,
and France. It is so important to get involved in these types of
opportunities because it puts us on the path to becoming future world
leaders. If we start thinking about our generation’s problems now, we
will be better prepared to deal with them in the future.
It was also a great experience because I got to meet people from so
many different countries and work with them to achieve a common goal
(making our human rights campaign proposals). It was really
interesting to see human rights not only from an exclusively American
prospective. We also all had very different backgrounds in the area of
human rights; some people had done many projects and some had barely
learned about them. Overall, the experience was very meaningful.
Over the summer I worked with a program called The Road Less Travelled. The Road Less Travelled is a service learning program which sends high school students around the world to do service in a certain place, then to have an adventure in that country. I participated in their El Sendero program. The El Sendero program sends students to Costa Rica.
The first day of the program was spent in San Jose, the capital, buying food and meeting my fellow travelers. After that day we transferred to the school we were going to work at. The school was a two hour drive into the heart of the eastern Costa Rican jungle. As our bus pulled in we were greeted by the beaming smiles of the local kids. It was their last day of school before a two week break and they were in the middle of an intense water fight. After about twenty minutes of talking with some of the more audacious kids the teachers at the school brought all the kids together in the small class room. Before they performed their D.A.R.E presentations we introduced ourselves by name, in spanish to everyone. After that the kids left to swim in the river and we cleaned out the classroom to set up our beds where we would sleep for the next week. Once we were done setting up we started our first half day of work. For the next nine days we worked on a variety of different projects including digging trenches for water overflow, breaking down old wood walls and reconstructing them with concrete, mending desks, painting and rebuilding broken paths.
Before I started this project I viewed service as a chore, just another thing that is required for school, but once I saw the happy look on the students faces’ as they looked at their renovated school I realized that service changes people’s lives. Service helps those in need, and makes those people feel important. I was so happy looking back on what I had done to help the school. “Gracias para todo,” a little boy named kevin told me, No i said back, “gracias.” I thanked him, he showed me what helping others truly means and how much care and work can affect someone for the better.
More pictures are available at this link.
Recently, I worked to paint a mural for the Spring Fair at Friends. It was really interesting to take part an event to special to community. The theme was sports, so I helped to paint footballs, baseballs, tennis rackets, and other sports related things.
It was amazing to see the main lobby transformed, once the mural had been painted. After hours of working, we had made something beautiful. I hope the kids who attended the Spring Fair enjoyed seeing it!
After becoming involved with the students at the Kisyoro school in Ruhiira, Uganda, I was inspired to become involved with the Girl Rising screening event at Friends. What inspired me to do this was actually interacting with these girls through our class service learning project. They have so much ambition to get an education, even though they face a lot of obstacles.
At the Girl Rising screening event, I facilitated the signing of a banner to be sent to the girls at the Kisyoro School. People who attended the screening could write personalized messages encouraging these girls to follow their dreams in becoming nurses, parliamentarians, doctors, and teachers. It was amazing to see some people write up to ten messages, all to inspire girls they had never met and most likely would never meet.
In my freshman year at Friends Seminary, I was a volunteer at an event in which we screened the documentary, Girl Rising, as an advocacy project. The movie Girl Rising is about 9 girls that live in third world countries that are trying to earn an education so they could live their lives differently and out of poverty. We also partnered with an organization called Connect to Learn which was a charity that helped girls that lived in impoverished places to go to school. Friends Seminary decided to earn enough money to send a girl to a school in Uganda. To do this, many other students and I started up bake sales in the lobby, accepted donations from anyone that wanted to donate, and have a big movie night and have a suggested donation and concession stands to earn enough money to send one of the girls to school. When started this activity I didn’t really care about what I was doing and I just wanted service hours, however, after getting more involved in the movie and actually seeing it actually showed me how hard and sad it is for young women in many other countries of the world. I wanted this girl to rise and actually go to school because of the doing of Friends Seminary. In the end of the entire process, we raised over $1,800 which was the amount of money we needed to this girl to go to school. The movie was very touching and it showed me how different it is outside of the country that I live in.
“We are in community each time we find a place where we belong and find we are needed.” –Peter F. Block
I helped out at back to school night here at Friends. My job was to find the schedules for parents to follow as they went through the night. I shared that job with two other friends from 9th grade. It was fun meeting a lot of parents. When parents passed through the halls in between classes, we had to help them find their way to many classrooms through out the school. A lot of my friends also helped at back to school night which made it fun while helping the parents.
I was able to help the community in a way that I had not been able to before. I helped those who we don’t see very often at friends, but still play a big role in this community. I was able to take away a sense of a accomplishment by helping the parents. We were able to help at one of the biggest events of the new school year. With the year now closing down, I look back and remember how I helped get it started.