Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Volunteering: Abroad

Many people have different opinions on high school students volunteering. One opinion is that "service will teach children to look beyond themselves" and learn about the role they play in the community and country. On the other hand some believe that high schoolers volunteer because the want to build their college résumé. Many argue wether it matters why one is volunteering; it just matters that they are volunteering. I have done various types of volunteer work. From traveling to abroad to staying in my community, I have felt the joys of volunteering. Yes it does help my college résumé, but that doesn't mean anything to me. I want to volunteer because I enjoy it so much.

In this post I am going to focus on volunteering abroad because I have such a close connection to it.
Over the past two summers I have gone on volunteer trips to Costa Rica and Ecuador. I believe that this was so beneficial because it gave me a chance to see how the rest of the world lives. From going on this trips I have realized how fortunate I am to live in America in such great conditions. On these trips I didn't just spend my time thinking about the differences between home and where I was. I spent my time playing with children in daycares. I spent my time making the daycares cleaner and happier than they were before. Going on these trips has been a life changing experience for me.

Opposers to volunteering abroad believe that it is a way for students to use money they have to make their résumé stand out from others. Barmak Nassirian is the associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and he said "We're not idiots. We know the price of an air-conditioned hotel and a plane. It's an act of affluent tourism masquerading as community service." I think he is looking at this type of volunteering from to narrow a lens. By using the word "affluent" he is making it seem as though we are spending our money to go to the nicest area of these countries and eat gourmet meals and we throw a little community service in there to make us seem like we aren't being selfish tourists. He isn't giving us enough credit. We work hard during the day and we don't stay in the nicest part of town. I don't think it is right for someone to discredit the work that another person does. This is still a legitimate way of volunteering. Mark Segal is the director of Westcoast Connection, which has similar programs to one I went on, and he said by volunteering abroad "you're opening the doors for relationships and learning in a way that's very different than being a traveler." When volunteering abroad we aren't just on vacation, we are trying to make a difference.

Here are some personal experiences from my summers abroad that prove these are not superficial trips. To the left is a picture from my first summer in Costa Rica. The first two weeks I spent there I cleaned and painted the daycare. The third week is when the children came back from winter break and I finally got to play with them. They were the sweetest kids I had ever met. I made a very strong connection with the little girl in the picture, Daniella. Even though there was a language barrier I was able to communicate with her enough to play games with her. To the right is a picture of a little boy I met in Ecuador, Benjamin. My favorite part of the two weeks I spent in volunteering at his daycare is when as soon as we walked in he would run up to me with his hands out just like that asking me to pick him up. These two children made me feel like I made an impact on them, which made the whole experience even more fulfilling.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Road Rage on the Rise

While on the highway, taking her daughter home from a driving lesson, a man pull up "aggressively" behind Tammy Meyers and tried to pass her. Her daughter reached over to the steering wheel and honked the horn. Then, Meyers sped up and drove away. Once she returned home she had her daughter go inside and tell her brother (Tammy's son) to come outside. Her son Brandon was armed and they set out to find the man from the highway. With no luck, they returned home to find the man at there house. He was also armed and fatally shot Tammy. Police are still trying to find the suspect. In the picture below family and friends gathered to mourn Meyer.
Vigil For Tammy Meyer

This is the most recent road rage incident, but road rage is on the rise and becoming more deadly. After this recent incident the Washington Post compiled some data together for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to prove how large of a problem this is becoming. This graph to the left shows the increase in deadly road rage accidents starting in 2004. In 2013 the number of deaths was nearly 250, which is a scary number in itself, but it doesn't take in to account those road rage accidents that didn't end up in death, but may have caused serious injury. This graph also doesn't take in to account those road rage incidents that people take a step too far and track each other down to kill at home, like Tammy Meyer.

Another study showed that road rage is most common in people ages 18-39. I find this interesting because I believe this is the most hectic time of peoples' lives. At 18 you are starting your life as an adult; maybe going to college. As you get older you will graduate from college and try to find a job in your field of work. Then maybe you want to get married and have kids. All of these milestones in life can add stress to people. So, it could be possible that a reason people are acting this way is because they are stressed and the last thing they want is to be cut off by someone on the highway. In no way am I justifying this sort of action, but I can see why this age range may be more enraged on the road. 

What do you think? Do you see a correlation between age and road rage? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Making Girls Proud To Be Who They Are

The #LikeAGirl commercial from the Superbowl has gotten mixed reactions, but for me it had the most impact. The commercial made girls feel like it was okay to do things like a girl. As a young girl I always heard boys tell other boys "You throw like a girl" or "You run like a girl". The implication was that they were throwing poorly or running badly. In this commercial it showed young girls being asked to run, throw, and fight like a girl and the results were incredible. They threw like they were the star pitcher on a softball team. They sprinted like they were in the Olympics.

The effect of this commercial spread all of twitter with the trending #LikeAGirl. One of my favorite tweets was this one:
The caption "I serve my country #likeagirl" proves that women can be proud of who they are. The hashtag is there to show young women that they can do anything they want to and do it just as well as a boy. 

However, some people didn't have the same reaction I did. Meninists started using the #LikeABoy in response saying that equality matters. The difference is that no one has ever used "like a boy" as an insult, but "like a girl" is used very often as an insult. This commercial wasn't made to bring down the self esteem of boys and I think these meninists need to understand that. It is also a proven fact that women aren't on the same playing field as men; not just in things like throwing or running, but in the workforce. In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid. Hopefully this commercial won't just change what is happening among young girls and boys but what happens among adults.