For part of my in school service, I worked at the stand to raise money for the Girl Rising event. I found the stories of these many girls extremely empowering. While it may seem at some times that one person can’t make such a significant difference to the world, hearing the stories of girls my age made me realize that I can make a direct difference to girls in other countries. I was very drawn to the idea that this event, if earned enough money, would make a girl’s dreams of going to school come true. I am very proud to have helped contribute to this.
I enjoyed working on a service learning project this year. We began by learning about world poverty, the Causes, and how the United Nations is working tour radiate world poverty. This project engulfed the end of every quarter in history class, and we even spent some of our time in tech class working on this project.
The first part of this project involved a research paper about the United Nations’ 8 Millennium Development Goals to end poverty by 2015. The research process led me to learn about some of the extreme cases of poverty, deep in Africa. Before writing this paper, I had known some of the information about these cases where people were living in extreme poverty but not to the extent that I now know about them. Aside from just learning about the different cases of extreme poverty throughout the world, I also learned about what the United Nations is doing to fix these cases pi extreme poverty. What specifically intrigued me was the idea that to empower women was to empower an entire village.
Both my mother and I got involved in raising money for the bake sale that would be at the girl rising event. We baked a good amount of these bars made from coconut, graham crackers and chocolate, that sold well. I am glad to know that my efforts helped a little girl get a scholarship to go to school in Rihira, Uganda. I really enjoyed working on this project, and hope that we will do more projects of the same nature.
This year, my grade helped raise money to send a girl to the Kisyoro School in Uganda for four years. Through bake sales and a screening of the movie Girl Rising, we were successfully able to do so. The movie we screened Girl Rising told the stories of multiple girls in third-world countries who struggled to go to schools for various reasons- because they had to work so their brothers could go to school, because their family couldn’t afford it, or because they were already married. This movie addressed problems in the world relating to girls’ education and promoted learning for everyone. It explained how it was proved that educating girls could help third world countries in terms of health, education, and even the economy.
This experience was particularly interesting to me because I personally would not know what it would feel like to be a girl not being able to go to school until I saw Girl Rising. I believe that everyone in the world should be able to receive proper education regardless of their gender. However, not only is it important to educate girls, it is also important to spread information throughout the world. Information such as the fact that not all girls are properly educated, or the statistics that show how girls’ education improves the world on a large scale. If information is not spread, people will not know about these problems and they will not be solved. Because female education is so important, I was glad to be a part of this service project and learn about it.
In January, I prepared food, helped set up, and spent the evening helping out at the Martin Luther King concert. I had a very good time at the concert because while helping others and earning community service credit, I got to hear many great musicians play at the Meetinghouse- some of whom were Friends students. Also, it was nice to be able to be support staff and support a great cause such as The Friends Shelter. The proceeds for the benefit concert go directly to The Friends Shelter which provides 14 beds for homeless clients 7 days a week. This shelter is run in our school’s Common Room, a small gym just off the 15th Street Meetinghouse.
It was great to be a part of this event which bears Martin Luther King’s name. It made this service experience particularly meaningful to me because he changed so many lives and was unafraid to voice his thoughts. I think that it is incredibly important to honor someone of such great power. I enjoyed this service opportunity and hope that I will have the chance to participate in many more events like the Martin Luther King concert.
A few months ago, my Spanish class and I volunteered with Bordamos por la Paz. Bordamos por la Paz is a project that aims to bring justice for the victims of the Mexican drug war and help families find missing loved ones. Bordamos por la Paz literally means “embroider for peace.” Anyone who wants to help the cause can embroider the name and information (date missing or date of death, place of residence, etc.) on a small white handkerchief. Green thread is used for missing people to tell the public to look out for them and red thread is used for people who have been killed in the war.
Working with Daphne Taylor, Friends art teacher, we each embroidered one or two handkerchiefs with green thread (for missing people). We traced the names and information onto the handkercheif in pencil and then sewed over it. The whole process took about four class periods. When we were done, they were hung up in the gallery for a few days and then sent to another city school to be displayed there. Ultimately, they were sent to Mexico to be hung in the streets. Joining Bordamos por la Paz was a really rewarding experience and it was amazing to know that our Spanish class could make an impact on the world.
Earlier in the year I volunteered with the school to bring aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Me and a large group of other Friends Seminary community members drove out to Staten Island and tried to help those who were affected by the hurricane. We set up mobile food stations, to provide warm meals to those who were affected, and handed out fresh water and cookies to lighten the mood of not only the residents, but also the other people helping out.
The second I arrived I immediately saw the extensive damage done to these family’s homes. I was instantly astonished. The neighborhood I live in only lost power, and I could have never imagined the damage done. Homes were flooded, furniture destroyed, and people’s lives were torn apart. As I started to look around however, I saw the assistance that people were giving around the area. I was humbled by how many people were sacrificing to help those in need. Whilst I was setting up satellite food stations, or handing out food and water, I noticed the happiness most of the people had. The community service and the helping hands extended to these people seemed to be more powerful than the damage done. The love and compassion of people who were helping those in need were vastly more influential than the hurricane. After doing this, I really understood how much simple acts of kindness and service can affect people around you for the better.
Over the summer, I went to a camp called Indian Brook, which is a camp within Farm And Wilderness Camps. Indian Brook is an all girls camp for girls ages 9-14. Each girl is required to go on a trip during her time at camp. For 13-14 year olds, the trips are for 5 days. There are hiking trips, canoeing trips, rock climbing trips, farm service trips, and trail service trips. This summer, I was on the trail service trip. However, this year’s trail service trip was different from the past years. Instead of just making trails, we helped repair the trails on Farm and Wilderness property that were damaged by Hurricane Irene.
We cleared the trail from fallen trees, leaves, and anything else that was in the way. We spent approximately 4-5 hours for 5 days making trails. After we were done clearing trails, we hiked back approximately half a mile to a wooden shelter, and cooked our own food using a whisperlight (a small camping stove), and made fires. Each day, after we finished making parts of the trail, it was nice to think that after we were done with it, it was nice to know that people would walk on these during their summers. Although it was a lot of work, it was definitely rewarding at the end of the day. It was a great experience, however there were some stressful times.
The first day, after we built a nice, long trail. When we got back, we met the camp director. However, she told us that the trail we built was in the wrong place, and that we had built a trail in preserved land. However, that just motivated us to do better the next day, and we did twice the work that we planned to. After doing this, I understood the importance of giving back. I loved hiking on the trails that other people had made, so it felt very good to make trails myself. Not only did I benefit from making trails, I learned many other things such as things about camping, such as how to make a fire, or how to turn on a whisperlight. I highly enjoyed it, and believe we helped out our Farm and Wilderness community.