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Tuesday in Holguín

Chruch

by Ryan Oster ’19

I think today painting the church was one of the most tangible accomplishments we’ve made since coming to Cuba. Although the church was very small, it seemed to have not been looked after in regard to its appearance in a while. I was glad we could use a bright color to repaint the walls because this way the difference before and after could really stand out. The workers for the church seemed very happy with our work and were more than grateful we did all four walls and the outside pillars when they had only asked us to do two.

Also, one of the most meaningful experiences not involving work since our arrival, having dinner at local families houses, was something that I realized to be an experience that few non-Cubans would ever get to have. I think it also was convenient that our host, Ismael, was only 27 years old and had a brother the same age as me. Being more or less from the same generation, we were able to relate to many of the same pop culture references that aren’t as prominent in the generations older than us. I also noticed that he was more in touch with the fact that English was not our first language more than older Cubans, and was surprised to hear that he and his brother knew more English than most Cubans I had talked to. I was also amazed that at the age of 27, Ismael was able to support a wife, 5 year old son, and brother (along with the help of his aunt and mother, all under the same roof). He handcrafts artisan goods such as handbags (bolsitas), wallets, and backpacks, and his wife paints them. Every few weeks, he takes a 10-12 hour bus ride to Havana to sell his items in street markets, in which he employs others to sell his goods for him.

Ismael sells most items for under 15 dollars even though I know many people in America who would pay upwards of 40 or 50 dollars for the same item. He was happy to tell me that there is always a constant demand for his craft due to international tourism. It was different to hear Cuban who felt very secure in his job. Seeing someone being as relatively successful at a young age as Ismael was surprising because it’s not often you see the same in the US.

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Tuesday, in Washington, DC

by Ava Helmer ’19

Martha’s Table is a food bank that provides classroom spaces for teaching children ages 1-4, and has a kitchen that makes food for 200+ people by sending a free food truck to two locations in the city. We were put to work in the kitchen, which was large clean space. Tammy and Kenzie cut zucchini, Chris and Charlotte pruned broccoli, Anisgul chopped tomatoes, and I started on mincing around 50 cloves of garlic. Having previous experience in food prep from a summer job, I finished the garlic in about 10 minutes. I then moved to the first onion of many. After doing another task in a different room, I then returned to the room where everyone was chopping. All 5 people in our group were simultaneously cutting onions, and as soon as I entered the room I bust into tears from the onion juice. Everyone in the room was balling and sniffing from the sheer amount of cut onions. We prepared and packed tins that would later be given to anyone who needed a meal.

by Josh Saskin ’19

Today we woke up at 6:00 to go to Reading Partners at Seaton Elementary. Welcomed by a volunteer for the program, we learned about the basics of the curriculum and had a crash course in how to go about tutoring the children. My first student was Eliana, a kindergartner who did not seem to want to participate at first, but became more open after we discussed our mutual love for cats and tacos. Later, I had Brandon, another kindergartner. Brandon did not like to respond in English, and when he wasn’t calling me a poop, he answered my questions in Spanish. Each of our group members had 4-5 students, which was definitely way more than we had initially anticipated after hearing from other GS students on the trip who had been there yesterday. After we left the school, we headed to the national mall, where we met up with the other group for lunch at the line of food trucks. From there, we took the metro back to the church for our final YSOP dinner. Tonight we made breakfast for dinner, and I could tell that our group was much more comfortable with taking control in the kitchen. At my table, I met some nice students from NYU who were there on an alternative spring break. I enjoyed talking to Sarah, a first year grad student who majored in international relations and minored in Mandarin. I joked with her that despite being best friends with someone who was Chinese for the past four years, I could barely hold 30 seconds of conversation. At the dinner, my table played Uno with Tish and chess with Rob. I enjoyed the final dinner reflection as well, because we tried to make a word cloud using our 5 words that come to mind when thinking back on the last two weeks. Among the most common words were joy, community, humble, and respect. On our way home, I realized that we’re in the final leg of the trip, and I’m sad to be done with the dinners. While at first I focused on the fact that they were tiring, I now look back on them with gratitude and appreciation.

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FOURTH DAY OF THE WEST VIRGINIA SERVICE TRIP

By Archer Euler ’20  and Adam Schnitzer ’20

Today we continued to help with moving dirt around the house. We split into three groups. One group had went inside of the house to begin mudding the walls around the house. Another group had organized the shed towards the back of the lot as well as organize the lot itself by picking up the scaffolding and picking up the planks that lied around the house. The last group had shoveled the final dirt pile and moved it  to the sides of the house. There was a plenty of shoveling and picking at the dirt like it has been for the past couple of days.

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Arrival in Matanzas

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by Heather Thaler ’20

Today was our last day in Havana. Before breakfast, my roommates and I packed up our belongings so that we would be able to enjoy some last moments of freetime before taking off. After breakfast, we went to the Jose Marti museum in Havana. I had never read any of Marti’s poetry, but I was very interested to learn more about his impact on Cuban history and society. The plaza, with a tall grey tower and massive statue of Marti, looked to me like something straight out of Star Wars. A tour guide took us around the museum. I thought it was fascinating how closely linked the ideas of Marti and Fidel are. Previously, I thought it strange that the state would fund such a huge museum for a poet, but this experience has provided me some valuable context for understanding this. Afterwards, we went back to the church council for lunch and finished packing. Around 3, we departed from Havana. Matanzas is only about an hour away, and the view of the Cuban countryside is beautiful, so the drive wasn’t too bad. Our accommodations in Matanzas, a seminary, seem like they will be very nice. The other girls and I have an apartment to ourselves. We had dinner in the seminary’s dining hall; they served rice, beans, and meat— which I have gathered to be a pretty typical Cuban meal. After dinner, we drove to the Plaza de Libertad so that we could access the internet. Everyone was anxious to see their grade reports and call their families, but the plaza itself is gorgeous and those who are done using the internet are playing soccer or otherwise just enjoying the city of Matanzas. I am looking forward to seeing what else Matanzas has to offer in the days to come.

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Washington, DC-Tuesday

By Charlotte Kim ’20

On our second day of service our group headed down to an organization called A Wider Circle, where items are donated and taken by people who need them.

When we first got there, we were welcomed by the lead volunteer, who talked to us about the organization and showed us around.

While we were there, we cleaned and placed mirrors, pieces of art, picture frames, pillows, and rugs. It felt good whenever someone picked out what we had cleaned and displayed.

After lunch, we helped organize clothing. We took away clothes that seemed stained, ripped, or damaged, and organized clothes that were in good condition on the racks.

After our day at A Wider Circle, we headed back to the church, where we helped prepare dinner for the homeless. Once the food was all prepared, we sat down and interacted with the guests. It was nice to talk to them and make connections.

Today’s service was truly memorable and fulfilling.

 

 

By Josh Saskin ’19

Today was another early day for Kim’s group. We started off by taking the bus to the DC Central Kitchen, where we were greeted by a warm staff. We spent the morning slicing bread and fruit, labeling containers, and organizing meals for shelters around the city. I really enjoyed today because I got to interact with many different people and see how much work goes into the process of providing for those with food insecurities. Afterwards, Kim let us have some time to explore on our own before we headed back to the church, so the five of us went to Reren, where we enjoyed ramen and xiao long bao, which is a staple of shanghainese culture. From there, we enjoyed bubble tea, explored Chinatown, and even got a chance to go inside the National Geographic museum that has an interactive exhibit on Egyptian queens. We then met up with Kim again and headed to the church, and we met Cassie to talk about the upcoming dinner we would be making. Tonight, the YSOP groups had the pleasure of cooking enchiladas and other dishes alongside one another to feed the roughly 20 homeless people who would arrive to have a meal, relax, and maybe even play a game of uno. While I was a bit hesitant at first, I was surprised by how well I got along with the man at my table. Peats was a man who volunteered at the church, wrote for the local newspaper, and had a degree in music. Charlotte, Cat, and I were overjoyed to find out that he had been recently accepted for an apartment and was about to become a homeowner. By nine o’clock, we were all exhausted and headed back to the house. Some of us showered and relaxed in our rooms, while others laughed at the table reminiscing about each other’s earlier years at GS. I’m definitely exhausted, both mentally and physically, but I’m starting to feel like we are making a difference, little by little, in the DC community.

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FIRST DAY OF SERVICE IN WEST VIRGINIA

By Matt McMallen ’20  Cooper Feiner ’20

On the first day of the service trip our first project was putting up drywall. We also met with the future home owner chrissy. She helped us out along with Gerald the drywall expert. Jerald showed us how to cut and put up the drywall. Within 10 minutes we all knew what we are doing and we were on our own. It was a pretty simple project but it was very exhausting.

 

 

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George School’s Theater Program

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by Hana Sparks-Woodford ’20

Hi everyone! My name is Hana Sparks-Woodford, I am a junior day student at George School, and I would like to talk about my experience in the art program.

The prospect of choosing an art as a new student was super exciting for me because I have always loved any form of creative expression I got the chance to explore. I was struck by the amount of choices I had—at least eleven classes ranging from dance to woodworking to graphic design. I was drawn into the theater program after seeing the 2015-16 productions of Twelve Angry Jurors and Les Miserables. As someone who had only been in one musical before coming to GS, I was in awe of the professionalism and range of the performers, and longed to be on stage with the actors I had seen—it was one of the things that attracted me most to GS over other schools.

As a freshman, I began in Kevin Davis’ Theater Arts class where we learned the language of the theater and explored different acting techniques. As a sophomore, I moved into Advanced Acting and Directing with Mo West, the head of the theater department and main director of all GS productions. This year I have joined the IB HL Theater students in their exploration of performance, directing, and the history of theater. I have been in the GS theater program for three years now and have grown so much, in so many ways. My confidence as a performer and public speaker has grown tremendously, my range of emotions and vulnerability that I can reveal onstage broadened, and my knowledge of techniques I can utilize has matured. I have an incredible amount of love and gratitude for everyone in this program, both teachers and peers. I honestly believe that I could not have gotten this experience anywhere else.

Each year Mo chooses a theme for the upcoming season of productions. This year’s theme is women. She chose each play with the intention of highlighting powerful and empowering women. The first play was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The upcoming productions are Sideshow in the winter term, and Miracle Worker in the spring term. I am so, so excited to participate in these as Violet Hilton in Sideshow and Kate Keller in Miracle Worker. As Sanford Meisner taught, acting is “acting truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” and I cannot wait to embody these characters to bring them to life in the upcoming season.

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Zau Haskins: Dance Club

Zau Haskins

by Zau Haskins ’21 

One of the most important things that George School offers for students is for them to take their own initiative to get involved with the community. One of the ways GS provides students to take their own initiative is by giving the opportunity for student run clubs. The clubs at GS are made and ran by students which gives us an outlet to express to the community our ideas, hobbies, concerns, and any other reason that would spark someone’s interest to make a club. This year, along with 2 other students, created and organized our own dance club. We combined our love for different styles of dance like, contemporary, hip-hop, modern, and others to teach to anyone of any skill level to just come and have fun. I enjoy dance club every week, because I am doing what I love and sharing it with my peers for overall a good time to let off some of the stress during the week!

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Sarah Mayer ’21: A Beautiful Sunrise

by Sarah Mayer ’21 

This week I wanted to share, a beautiful sunrise my friend Aqua Withers ‘21 and I took together while on our way to class! These pictures highlight one example of our beautiful campus!

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Sarah Mayer ’22: GS Weekends

by Sarah Mayer ’22 

At George School, there are many activities that students can partake in. They are offered as weekend activities or as clubs that occur during the week. Clubs are created by students who have various interests that they would like to share with others. They are usually held throughout the week at whatever time works best for the group, though some clubs do hold weekend activities for the whole school. Some of the clubs that are offered are the social justice club, photography, biochemistry, plus many others. Each weekend at GS there are always many activities students can do. In fact, the student activities board sends out a whole schedule of a weekend filled with events. An example of some activities are the fright fest at six flags, going to movies, going to the mall, and there is almost always a sports game you can watch. George School offers many activities that I would encourage students to partake in.

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