Tag Archives: washington DC 19

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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Monday in Washington, DC

by Mindy Xu ’19

We followed our morning routine, taking the bus and stopping at Starbucks, before arriving at Unique Rehabilitation Center. This is a facility that takes care of mainly seniors, but there was one young amputee who was also there. After taking a tour of the four floors and getting a sense of their schedule, we immediately noticed they were severely understaffed. We were only able to help distribute coffee, interact with the residents through memory and word games, helping them go to the dining area, and serving the lunches to the residents. It was mentally difficult to see the conditions in which the people had to live in, and to know that there was little we could contribute to help. Though after this heavy experience, we went to the Lincoln Memorial and got  pizza, which was a good stress release for all of us. The last activity of the day was another YSOP dinner, and this time, I helped prepare the garlic bread. I was originally sitting with my usual group, but Kim encouraged me to go sit at another table. Angel came and sat next to me, and we immediately bonded through our love for Kpop music. Jumping from talking about Big Bang to BTS, Angel and I established a strong connection. As we ate dinner, the conversation switched to heated topics of racism and feminist issues, of which Angel had firm opinions. We shared our thoughts on these prevalent problems in society, and after desert, Angel went to sit with her other guest friends. It was disappointing that some familiar faces were not here, but also refreshing to meet and establish relationships with new people.

Goodnight!

by Anisgul Stanikzai ’19

It is our second week of our service trip. Today we did our served at the H.D.Cooke School, a public school. We took two buses to get there and it took us an hour to arrive. The school was well staffed and very clean compared to other places we volunteered. The minute we arrived each member of my group was assigned to work with a first-grader. We read books to them aloud and worked on new vocabulary.

We were not the only volunteers to read to the children as there were some other older people from the community, too.  The children we were reading to needed help because they struggled with reading and pronunciation.  During the time we spent with them, we taught them how to read and helped them use new words in a sentence. It was a very good experience because some of the children were very excited to read their favorite books. Each one in my group enjoyed spending time with those children. We were happy to have the chance to chat with those children.

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Washington, DC, Thursday, March 14

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By Chloe Lentchner ’19

Today was our last day of service of week one. I am in Kim’s group with Josh, Mindy, Peter and Cat. At 8:30 a.m. we woke up and left for our day. As usual we boarded our bus to head into the city. Our service was held at the Oasis Senior Center, which we learned was a place for homeless seniors to visit, rest, get their clothes washed, and get food. The center itself was located in the basement of the Lutheran Memorial Church. When we walked in the doors, there were around fifteen people sitting around playing games, taking a nap or socializing. Faces lit up as we entered and the program director immediately came up to talk to us about our task. We were asked to play games and socialize with the people in the center. There was a lot of competitive Uno games happening, but we all learned a new game and a personal favorite at the center called Rummikub. We played countless rounds of the card game until it was time for us to return to YSOP headquarters.

Today’s service was different in my mind to the previous week’s worth. It was the most direct work done, and though it seemed like I was just having a good time playing games, serving food, and learning about the people in the center, I could tell that my presence made all of their days a little more enjoyable.

After returning to YSOP we had a group reflection, unpacking our week’s service and sharing all of our highs, lows, and excitements for next week. It was interesting getting to hear everyone’s thoughts on the work we were doing because there were a lot of similarities and even some comparisons. Following the meeting we headed out for some fun to the National Harbour. We all had dinner together and then explored the town by riding the ferris wheel and getting ice cream. It was such a great and fun way to end our first service week!

By Chris Chan ’19

Today my group went to do service in the IONA Senior Services. This took place in the St. Albans Episcopal church. We started off by helping prepare the tables by placing covers and utensils. After that, one of the members of the services named Nathaniel asked us to help him with distributing the food. The food we served the senior citizens included chicken mixed with tomato, mashed potatoes, carrots, along with a small serving of orange juice and raspberry yogurt. I was happy to see that IONA was aware that some of their visitors may be vegan. Therefore, we were also able to serve some vegetarian options for the senior citizens.

In addition to food prep and serving, we were able to workout and do exercises with the senior citizens. We each took a pair of dumbbells and performed bicep curls along with fast leg movement to make sure that the seniors were staying active. I think the weight training was helpful and seeing us younger students getting involved was something that motivated everyone to keep pushing through the entire workout.

Overall, the meal and the exercise were great activities for us to get to know the senior citizens that we were entertaining. I think I can speak for the group when I say the experience was pleasant. We were also very impressed with how some of the senior citizens knew a variety of languages. Ironically the senior citizens had their own cliques at tables which kind of reminded us about a high school lunchroom environment.

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Washington, DC Wednesday

by Ava Doty ’20

Martha’s Table is a food bank, 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 a 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 given to anyone who needed a meal.

by Peter Zha ’20

Today’s D.C. transportation experience wasn’t the best, especially it went from the decent modern subways to the delayed buses. It is a good way for us to have a taste of what the majority of the residents here will have to go through every day. The service facility was a donation center built in a middle school, where they receive a huge amount of various clothing, namely formal clothing, everyday clothing, baby clothing, etc. We selected the clothing in good conditions and put them on display for people in need. There are also other programs for baby toys, technology supports, and school supplies. Surprisingly, the owners of the Marriot Corporation visited them anonymously, and because of their dedication to helping others, the couples gifted them a computer lab for major selection. Later in the afternoon, we had a second church dinner, where we cook food for anyone in need. There were some familiar faces from yesterday, and also new clients. The whole experience was a lot smoother since we all knew what to do.

 

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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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Washington, DC Day 1

Day 2

by Catherine Orescan ’19

Today we visited the Covenant House for service. Upon arriving, the manager of the House gave us a tour, showing us rooms ranging from classrooms to a miniature clothing boutique. After the tour, we split into two groups. Chloe and Josh took on the “Dove Room” where they organized clothing by size, style, and color in order to make shopping more accessible for clients who visit the Covenant House. Mindy, Peter, and I worked on clearing, cleaning, and organizing a room in the back that the staff wants to use for storing and organizing donations. The House receives items including clothing, toiletries, handbags, and much more. Mindy and I specifically emptied handbags full of toiletries and miscellaneous items that we then organized into two sets of drawers. We ended up having to reorganize three times because so many items had to fit into the drawers! What most impacted me and my individual group was the incredible influx of donations that the managers of the House had to shift through and organize. They were constantly overwhelmed by the bags and boxes of clothing that needed to be sorted and displayed. I realized that although it might seem so easy to donate garbage bags full of clothing, the people on the receiving end of the donations often are understaffed to handle everything. Overall, it was an enjoyable day to see how our hard work transformed the two rooms our group worked on.

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Washington, DC Day 1

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by Mackenzie Sheehan ’19 

Today we went Unique rehabilitation center. Our group got to know some of the residents, watching their faces light up at our presence was so rewarding. Halfway through our service my group split into two. One group passed out trays consisting of the lunches, while my group helped organize rooms and closets. Today was sad because we saw some of the elderly residents immobile and unresponsive though i sensed that our presence brought joy and brightened their days. It was rewarding seeing the impact we had just by showing that younger people care for an elderly community.

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