Service Leader: Hope for Kids 2021-2022

Service Leader + Christmas / New Years Project

Sometime towards the end of last year I was notified that the position for service leader in Hope for Kids was opening up, since one of our previous leaders, Kenji, graduated. I had been a part of this service group dedicatedly for 3 years and I had tried to make the most of my contributions to the group itself in my time there. At the start of this year, I was elated to receive an e-mail initiating me as a service leader alongside my classmate Saesha. This had been a longtime commitment of mine with a cause that I was extremely passionate about contributing to, and I had also come with the added experience of knowing the trials and tribulations of trying to function in a service group in the midst of a pandemic. The e-mail that reached out to us also let us know that we were going to try and do our yearly Christmas present drive again this year, and that we had to perhaps reach out and go shopping with last year’s bake sale & donation funds to get the children gifts this year, but sadly this plan was halted as two of the patients at the home ended up getting COVID. And like I’ve said time and time again, our number one priority is ensuring the health of the children that we work with, so we were in mutual agreement under restrictions from the CCC house that we would be postponing the event.

However, after having an initial meeting with my service supervisor, Ms. Tanuja, we decided that we could still attempt to maintain the Christmas cheer, by creating a talent show for them and by doing a toy drive in early January in time for new year, and thus, Saesha and I were tasked with reaching out to the IT department and various members of the OSC staff to see if they were willing to put something small together for the patients at the CCC home. We also created a sign up sheet for student performers and are currently waiting for that to be filled up, although I must say, we already have a great variety of performances coming in from the staff members who were more than willing to participate which is very touching to see.

In the upcoming year, I look foreword to taking more of a leadership role in our service group and hopefully carrying it through another highly successful year once we are able to meet again! Oh and before I sign off, after some convincing we also decided that we would be lowering the age limit so that we could increase the manpower when we are not visiting the home 🙂

 

 

Helping Out At Home + Teaching 8th Graders

Service During Lockdown

In my first few weeks of DP2 I realized that it may take some time for school to resume service activities considering the uncertainty regarding whether we’ll be returning to school in person or not, so in the meantime, I decided that I would continue to give back to others in some way in the ways in which I could from the safety of my home during the pandemic. While usually I either attend multiple service groups during and after school ours with Hope For Kids and other school communities or carry out football lessons with primary school children. Unfortunately, neither of those things have been a possibility recently with the looming consequences of, you guessed it, another nationwide lockdown. So instead I decided that the best way to do my part in service would be through helping out at home and by tutoring a few of my brother’s friends online.

Just today, for example I was on a call with 2 of the girls from the 8th grade and they mentioned that they were struggling with a few of their assignments and certain concepts so today I sat with them on google meets for two hours and helped them overcome the hurdles of understanding the physics of waves and helped one of the review and reflect on their “perfect paragraphs” for English. Now naturally, I am not teacher by any means, but I had done these units previously in the MYP and I still had some of my notes and projects that I used to help them understand the concepts. For example to explain the concept of waves I pulled up one of my old E-Maze presentations which I made in the 10th grade demonstrating what waves are so that they could have a clearer idea of the definitions and prepare for their upcoming test. Likewise, for English homework help, I simply gave them certain pointers on where they could potentially have made improvements and without giving them the answers gently guided them into thinking about self improvement in the subject. This isn’t at the moment a regular occurrence but if they find my help useful in any way I told them that I would be happy to help :))

That aside, at home I’ve been helping out a lot more with things like chores. Recently our helper went back home so currently its just my mom, my brother and I at home and since most of the time we’re on our laptops doing school while mom is working around the house I felt that it was nice to take some of the burden off of her shoulders by offering to cook every now and then and by taking care of things like bathing the dog. These may seem like simple gestures but they make a world of difference for her since she has to run a lot of work to do and I aim to be a bit more involved when the holidays roll around.

^ A freshly showered and dried Bella 💙

Baking + Sunday Dinners

Baking and Making Sunday Dinners for My Family

During the course of my CAS journey one of my favorite endeavors that I decided to take up was cooking. It initially started as a one off thing but has soon become a regular occurrence in my household as of late and one that has not only been beneficial to me but my family as well. At home we like to switch things up whenever possible, order in different cuisines, try out new recipes etc. and lately as college has been drawing nearer and nearer my parents have reminded me how useful a skill knowing how to make your own food can be as you grow up. In addition to this I find cooking extremely therapeutic, it allows me to concentrate on whichever action I am doing and I momentarily let go of all of the stressful things in life. Another advantage of making meals on the occasion is that I get to give my mom a well deserved rest where she doesn’t have to cook and clean for the night while I simultaneously get to learn a lot about the cultures which my recipes come from.

^ Strawberry cheesecake & Chocolate chip cookies!

Over the past term I have backed everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake while I’ve made dishes from all around the world. The key component of making everything is a lot of care, patience and practice as sometimes, doing things as simple as frying chicken can be extremely painstaking and time consuming but the end result is almost always more worth it if you put the effort in. The next mantra for the kitchen I would use is that not everything is going to work out, some recipes might do amazing but others maybe not so much. For example, this weekend I made chocolate chip cookies, now these were somewhat of a cheat meal because it was a pre-mixed pack and when I tasted the batter it didn’t taste too out of the ordinary but the moment you bit into it after it was baked it felt sweet enough to give you diabetes, which upon reflection wasn’t all too nice especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Another thing I’ve learned to deal with is that ingredients aren’t always readily available, especially during this pandemic since most of what we order is done online so I need to substitute quite a few ingredients whenever possible. Here are a few of my absolute favorite meals that I made over the past 3 weeks.

KBQ, also known as Korean Barbecue Chicken is a Korean dish which consists of crispy buttermilk battered chicken doused in spicy gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. KBQ is something that my brother and I always wanted to order in but since the store closed during lockdown we decided that we’d make it ourselves. The cook time was actually quite long because you had to wait for the chicken to marinate and then fry them till they’re cooked but the end result was very worth the wait.

Chili Con Carne on the other hand, is a Mexican dish which loosely translates to chili with meat, the dish consists of a delicious seasoned stew which is usually accompanied on a bed of rice with cheese on top, this dish was fairly easy to make and honestly delectable even though this was the first time I had tried it. The second part of this dish is the Hot Butter Cuttlefish which is one of my all time favorite side dishes which to my surprise is actually a part of Sri Lankan Chinese fusion cuisine! Unfortunately this time around there wasn’t any flour at home to make the crispy batter with, but it was just as delicious without.

The third dish that I found was a great success was my mom’s take on a Cajun/ Creole dish called Jambalaya which is basically a rice dish with vegetables and meat combined with rice. My mom’s recipe of the dish doesn’t necessarily follow the original ingredient list but uses an amazing combination of ham and rice with minimal vegetables instead! Jambalaya also contains influences from regions like Spain, Africa and France and so it can be said that many regions have their own take on the dish with different meat and vegetable variations but that’s what makes this dish so diverse in the first place.

I would highly recommend trying these out at home!!

 

Harvard Pre-Law Academy + In Conversation With Forbes’ Laurel Donnellan

Summer Endeavors 

Sometime towards the end of last year I loosely touched on my acceptance into Harvard’s  pre-law program. Among the many external courses I took part in in DP1 I was informed of two potential opportunities that I could take part in over the summer and after 2 essays, one questionnaire and an interview I received the news that I had been selected. Now that all of it is said and done, let me catch all of you up on a little bit of what I did this summer.

Harvard Pre-Law Academy

  < Day 1

After receiving my acceptance letter I could barely contain my excitement, I had made it into a law course! One that was sponsored by Harvard nonetheless! Even though I was happy I got selected in I was also just as nervous. Harvard is something that I have always associated synonymously with academic excellence so naturally, I had my fair share of nerves since I assumed the other 19 selected students would be mini Einsteins.

In the weeks that followed I received multiple emails briefing me on what I was to except from a course overview to a note docket and itinerary. I was then introduced to the two course leaders, Nisha and Maia who led our sessions for the upcoming weeks. The first few sessions were rather predictable, we did our introductions got introduced to different law terminology and judicial systems and were split into various breakout rooms to talk to conduct research in. I soon got to know quite a few of my peers some of whom I still keep in touch with today, and naturally they were all as smart as I expected them to be but they were also very welcoming and just bounced ideas off of each other. At the end of it all I can even confidently say that I learned just as much from my friends as I did my mentors. As the final week approached, things turned up a notch. Our mentors decided to introduce the main component of the program: a mock trial. Yes, you heard me right, an actual mock trial based off of an actual trial that would be mediated by Nisha and Maia in the end as unbiased judges.

They decided to pick our roles within our teams at random and much to my shock I ended up being given the role of the primary defendant! This was huge, I was going to be playing the defendant and defense attorney for myself as Dana M. Colby the principal of Michigan High School who was accused of enabling a memorandum that had to do with the alleged unlawful seizing of student, Pat Roman’s bag in a civil case. This meant that my partner Nubar (who would play co-defendant as the teacher who seized the bag (Terry Wordshaw)) and I, would act as defense attorneys while the other members of our team would be responsible for gathering data, cross examination and other logistics in a fight against the plaintiffs who claimed that privacy comes above the safety of the students seeing that the teacher came up empty handed aside from a cigarette after the search. Initially I was concerned because I personally sided with the plaintiffs argument at first, but naturally, one of the first steps to being a good lawyer is to put your own opinions aside. Nubar was extremely diligent and myself, her, a boy named Iqbal and a girl named Nadine spent the good part of the next week working tirelessly at finishing opening statements, closing statements, witness statements, summaries of facts, rebuttals, questions for direct and cross examination etc. It was a very long and nail biting week but we managed to stay on top of things. On top of that we had sometimes up to three meetings a week and constant correspondence via social media just to ensure that we were on track.

On the day of the mock trial we went in well prepared. I was to give out the opening statement which I had written and answer all the questions in direct and cross examination. My opening speech was spoken out without much error and I was positively beaming on the inside because we had made a solid start. I had also suggest that we trip the other team up by making our expert witness a child psychologist so that she could comment on Pat Roman’s behavioral tendencies to create mischief. Any good lawyer is a good story teller after all 😛

The direct examination went quite well except a member of the other team kept interrupting at every instance saying “the question is irrelevant to the case your honor!” every time I opened my mouth to answer which was rather infuriating but the cross examination was where I redeemed myself.

We had known full well that the angle they would use to win the case would be to talk about an infringement of privacy but we made it so that we placed special emphasis on certain clauses of the amendment in focus and after that it was really just a matter of re-iterating facts. The rest of our trial went off in very intense rounds of questioning, I didn’t quite expect that much passion from an online mock trial but it was clear that everyone including myself was very highly invested and much thanks to Iqbal our resident cross-examiner he asked questions from the plaintiffs that had them squirming in their seats. After a good 20 minutes of deliberation our judges felt they were ready to give out our verdict.

I had been excitedly talking to my teammates on the chat reminding them of how proud I was of all our hard work regardless of the verdict since at that point in time I genuinely did not know what the decision would be and then, much to the defense team’s delight Nisha announced that although their personal views resided with the plaintiff’s argument we made such a compelling case that we won! All of us were elated and knowing that we had not only managed to win but sway the personal beliefs of the judges felt incredible. Having gone up against some seriously intense opposition and still winning out made it all the more worth it :))

In hindsight, Harvard’s Future Lawyers Program was one of my proudest achievements and most exiting endeavors. I had not only been accepted into an exclusive group but also lead my team to a solid victory as well alongside Nubar! This was an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that I will certainly remember for the years to come.

An extract from the 57 page case reading we had to each do and take notes on! ^

^ My certificate of participation

^ Our program course book

In Conversation with Lauren Donnellan 

Another pleasant surprise I had this summer was when Learn With Leaders (the platform I used to find my law course) extended an invite to an invite only conversation with Laurel Donnellan about career paths. By this time after my participation in the pre-law academy I had made up my mind that I would want to choose a law related career path perhaps in diplomacy but I wanted to see if it was the right fit for me, not to mention that Laurel is a contributor at Forbes.com where she writes about Compassionate Leadership and focuses on leadership and falling in love with careers through kindness and purpose. This is naturally a major achievement and her resume spoke for itself when looking at all the incredible entrepreneurs she interviewed and the people she inspired. In this time we spoke in small groups about what makes someone passionate about a job and how being passionate towards it can benefit your lifestyle, health and happiness in the long run.

^ Donnellan’s Forbes Profile

^ Certificate of Participation

The Margin + OSC Girls RISE

The Margin, Ivy Girls Lead, Girls RISE and Harvard Future Lawyers Programme

Two endeavors that I have recently taken up this semester are becoming a member of  two new clubs which were formed in the OSC community as a form of outreach towards younger girls in school and the Margin as an established a method of educating the student and teacher body on the treatment of marginalized communities.

The Margin is the first group I joined, in the group, members meet up once each week to explore the misconceptions regarding different different communities of people around the world, we discuss issues ranging from racial inequality to homophobia while we educate ourselves and things such as disabilities in order to reduce the stigma that is felt within any environment in which a member of the student body may encounter. So far, we have met up over 5 times having accomplished setting up a website and earned ourselves a section on the daily bulletin. I even got to take the initiative to create our first ever daily bulletin post about the Afro-Sri Lankans of Puttalam, a forgotten community that have gradually lost their ties to their African roots after integration into Sri Lankan life post colonization after being brought in as slave workers. I chose to submit this post as a part of our Black History Month initiative. This required a fair share of creativity as I had to learn how to use E-maze in order to make my post and learn how to navigate it. Regardless, since, I have contributed to adding to our timeline, attended multiple ted talks, and had valuable discussions with my peers about the prevention of exclusion and the importance of educating oneself on these matters. Needless to say, each of these discussions have been extremely insightful and I am honored to be a part of a group that is capable of contributing so much to the others.

Link to my 1st post: https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fvenngage.net%2Fps%2FanWcHV5w5sk%2Fsri-lankan-colonial-slavery&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGvlVtiCbFtE-vNBeu471Mrq0DMzQ

The second group which I recently became a member of is the Girls RISE project, which I may have mentioned in one of my earlier blogposts concerning the IVY GIRLS lead. Admittedly, at the time the project was only an idea, and we were only capable of making it a reality this semester. When joining, I agreed to take on the role of a mentor and although we haven’t gotten to the mentorship stage of the project just yet, we have had the honor of being able to bring in three very accomplished guest speakers who were undoubtedly awe inducing to anyone in attendance. The first, being Tiffany Carothers from Girls Make Waves,  Jayanti Kuru-Utumpala, the first Sri Lankan to climb Mount-Everest and our most recent guest, philanthropist Maggie Doyne who who holds a Forbes Award for Excellence in Education among many other renowned accolades including CNN’s hero of the year. Each week I have taken notes on the different stories shared by the guest speaker and am sharing them for later use for when it is my turn to share my wisdom with the girls I will be mentoring, so far, however, the initiative has been amazing and the opportunities granted to us in the process is something I’m eternally grateful for, especially considering that women’s rights is something I have wanted to advocate for since being a little girl, and I am honored that  I get to lead by example for the younger students now.

Additionally, I stepped a little out of my comfort zone last week to make a speech during our school assembly, reminding the OSC student body about the work that we have done in the past year and the work that we hope to accomplish in the coming years especially in relation to Girls RISE which happens to be one of the newer initiatives in school. I was a little nervous when Ms. Fleming approached me, but I took it in stride and wrote and delivered the speech the best I could.

Here is a small extract from my announcement:

“Hi, I’m Devanga Silva from DP1 and I am going to be talking to you about a program which several students from OSC took part in over the last few months. IVY Girls Lead was a program that took place from December through March where 25 girls were selected from around Sri Lanka to participate in an intensive 10 day virtual programme and a 3 month service project we had to create ourselves which consisted of multiple opportunities to develop our leadership skills as young women in society. As members of the Ivy Lead, we were able to take part in group discussions, talent-analysis activities and even got the honor of participating in presentations with a powerful panel of female industry leaders that helped us cultivate stronger leadership and business skills while learning more about our interpersonal relationships as well. And we were even featured in a Sunday Times news article. Because of the success of IVY Girls Lead, we decided to create a similar program at OSC which I will be handing over to Miku to tell us more about.”

Lastly, but Certainly not least, my work in these projects, IVY GIRLS, the Margin and girls RISE gave me the boost of confidence to apply for a summer course with Harvard Student Agencies and Learn With Leaders, in an exclusive program which takes in 10 candidates from around the world for a 2 week course on law. Initially when signing up I wasn’t very sure of my chances of making it in, especially considering that the only ways in which they assess your application is through a survey and an interview. Needless to say when time came for met to answer my interview questions (which I wasn’t informed about in the least before hand) I was able to relevantly piece together information and depict my concern for social injustices in a way that had my acceptance letter in my email the very next day! Naturally  I am elated and even proud of myself for building this much confidence within the past few months and I am grateful to school for providing me with these amazing opportunities to exercise what I am passionate about. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I can’t wait to see what  I learn from it (which will also be very valuable to my further education) but that’s an update for another time! I can’t wait to revisit my experience when I return to DP2.

 

Écrire des lettres aux personnes ĂągĂ©es

Writing letters to the elderly – French Service Project 2021

As student in French B this year, I was told at the start of DP1 that I would be required to cover are all three areas of CAS in 3 posts by the end of my 2 year DP journey. Luckily for myself, I thought ahead of time and have managed to complete 2 of the 3 tasks. I successfully completed my first task when I made my own rendition of the Swiss desert, bonhommes last Christmas and I have just now done my part in my French service project.

For this year, myself and a few of my classmates, chose to write letters to the residents of an elders home who have had a hard time with COVID being unable to see their families and were in need of a little bit of cheering up :)) By keeping that intention in mined, I set out with the goal of writing my letter (shown below) to put a smile on their faces and to assure them that everything would be just fine during COVID and that the tough times will pass. My letter began with me introducing myself, my name, my age, my home and my hobbies etc. after which, I went on to talk about my own experience in quarantine and how it is affecting my life and its shortcomings, while I also assured my pen pal about how it it possibly the only way for things to go back to normal. I talked about how it has given me the time to explore things such as hobbies that I would usually not participate in leisurely in the absence of COVID, namely hobbies of mine such as playing music, reading and playing with my dogs which I haven’t had the time to engage in due to school. And at last, I said that  I hoped they were doing well and concluded with an inspirational quote by a man named Robert Choquette who said something the lines of, “At the heart of uncertainty, there will always be hope, no matter how weak it is.” and included 2 pictures of my dogs because let’s be there’s no bigger serotonin boost than puppies out there.

En français: 

Cette annĂ©e, pour mon projet de service CAS, j’ai choisi d’Ă©crire une lettre aux personnes ĂągĂ©es dans une maison pour personnes ĂągĂ©es en France. J’ai choisi de le faire parce que je savais que COVID doit ĂȘtre plus difficile pour eux que pour moi, car la plupart du temps, ils ne pourront pas voir les membres de leur famille, alors je voulais les rendre heureux et pleins d’espoir et leur rappeler que tout allait bien se passer.

Alors je leur ai Ă©crit cette lettre:

 

Hikes and Football in Hanthana

From the View to the Leeches and Everything in Between

Around a month ago on April the 15th, I got the privilege of being able to travel with my family and a few friends to a region in Sri Lanka called named Hanthana (which by the way, for any film buffs out there, is where Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom was filmed!)

We set out on a rather long journey of about 5 hours (which arguably felt longer due to the migraine inducing effects of holiday traffic) from Colombo to the hillside where our villa resided. It was rather rainy by the time we got there so we immediately assumed the worst and thought we wouldn’t be allowed to go on our much awaited hike the next day. However, much to our excitement the staff at the villa said it wouldn’t be a problem.

The next morning we woke up at around 6 am and put on our gear, which for me was lacking an element because I had forgotten to pack my leech socks (yikes) and ate a very light breakfast of about 2 scones and left on our way. This was going to be the first proper hike that I had ever been on, given that the one that I talked about in my earlier post about in Hatton didn’t technically count because there wasn’t much of an ascent and since it was on practically paved ground.

As we moved towards the starting point I made sure to stick next to the guide all the way up at the front because the last thing I wanted was to be behind around 10 kids and 5 adults trying to slowly amble their way up a mountain and also… because we had a dog climbing Hanthana’s third peak with us, and no, I am not exaggerating when I say he really climbed to the very top of the mountain with unbelievable ease – Bantu the dog was always 5 steps ahead of everyone else.

It was rather tricky from the get go, in fact it was a lot steeper than we expected it to be and the footpath, well… there wasn’t one, which meant that it was a lot of loose rocks, barely there hand holds and the constant fear of slipping. On top of that our littlest hiker, Evan,  (you’re probably familiar with him being one of kids I coach football with)  was all the way at the front with the guide and he tripped a few too many times in a way that  that took the guide out and nearly took me out as well! However, thankfully, it was pretty uneventful except for a few incidents along the way where someone couldn’t adjust to the altitude and naturally the occasional scream of “LEECH! I HAVE A LEECH!!” which was quickly taken care of.  Much to my relief I never ended up with a single leech on me despite the complete absence of leech socks.

Physically it was quite strenuous because of how far up you had to reach and how much balance you needed to have, but in hindsight I felt as though overcoming the mental hurdles of climbing up a mountain unassisted was a much greater challenge. Needless to say about halfway to the peak we came across a gorgeous plateau which literally looked like something out of a dream. It was covered in reeds and cocooned by pine trees and overlooking the edge we were just above the clouds, it was genuinely a breathtaking sight.

Soon after taking a short break and climbing what felt like the narrowest part of the mountain we reached the peak, but there was another smaller boulder on top which the braver ones of us climbed. It was an amazing view and I was able to snap up some amazing pictures. All the while I was ignoring the dull ache in my legs and the fact that I was panting and out of breath; the view was simply too good to be true, it was one that was worth it all.

The climb down was a whole other fiasco if you will. Evan kept tripping up sending both himself and the guide down on multiple occasions, and somewhere on our way down I stepped on a rock as foothold which came completely loose and I nearly ended up falling off the mountain if not for the guide who grabbed me (he had Spiderman like reflexes there is no there is no other explanation for how he literally jumped about a meter to get me because he was tending to Evan earlier). It was slightly odd considering how unfazed I was I just stood up and kept walking without anything more than a few cuts and scrapes. I am eternally grateful however that nothing happened, but hey, no pain no gain right?

Regardless of all the ups and downs I had a lot of fun, conquered a new experience and overcame a few fears, while also getting some physically intensive activity in which all in all, I would call a successful outing. Even more so, it was a much needed break from the screen to  embrace nature, get some fresh air and enjoy the real world and even got to coach a few more children than I usually would before the lockdown was officially imposed afterwards! Majority of the other kids that came to Hanthana were my brother’s age meant that we had a massive open space to play in and that they were younger and willing to be coached aside for the worry that they were going to get bitten by a leach that is. Once the hard part of convincing them to come outside to play for a small while was done, I taught them correct passing techniques and other technicalities like throw ins, headers and corner kicks and finally ended our session with a small scrimmage and an opportunity for them to score at the goal, helping them boost their shooting confidence and accuracy.  At some point I even decided to play along too which was great because I had been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to get back on the field again for months on end and although it didn’t feel the same as playing competitively with my team, it was a nice game for a good laugh and some rewinding in my downtime, and I am happy to say that the kids came away with more knowledge about the game than what they started with!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service Post – Hope for Kids

Hope For Kids Update!

While a lot has changed in the past few weeks from completing online school, to going back face to face for  only to be thrust back into a blindsiding state of  lockdown again, my service group, Hope For Kids has never let ourselves see a dull moment. Instead of complaining about the revocation of our visitation rights to the home (because of safety precautions) we have been spending even more hours working at various projects that had us sacrificing a few lunch hours, Thursday afternoons and other weekdays after school hours to make it all come together.

I feel as though our group has honestly accomplished more this year than I would have ever assumed we would have been able to complete given our inconvenient circumstances, although somehow, in a strange way, I have come to realize that it has given me a one off opportunity to step up to the plate  to genuinely make a contribution to the cause we work to support and to do more than physically spend time with the young cancer patients like we used to do when Covid was not an issue. Even more excitingly, it has given me a perfect opportunity to step up into taking some initiative in the leadership area.

Many changes were made starting with some basic housekeeping at first. We decided that it was high time we made some updates to some of our archives. Namely, we needed to change the outdated logo which I took upon myself to redo which required me to employ my creativity. While the original logo was simply just an image of a handprint, I felt that it didn’t really show all that much relevance to our cause which is why, after doing some research I found out that the color for child cancer was gold and then decided to make a simple but striking logo which said OSC Hope for Kids at the top with a gold cancer ribbon on a contrasting black background.

Additionally we decided that we needed to make our outreach greater in terms of raising awareness as a service group. We already had a website but it was rather incomplete in terms of the aesthetic value of it which is why I spent majority of our last session trying to help one of my make the necessary changes to the website via Zoom. Naturally this was a lot harder than expected since it was online and also because the previous creators of our website had graduated, hence making it a work in progress for the upcoming weeks.

We also decided to create an Instagram page in order to keep our school community updated on recent happenings within our group as well as it being the perfect opportunity for us to raise some awareness regarding the severity of the issue that is child cancer. During the first few weeks, while others made certain informational posts, I took the time to create a quiz to educate our followers. Using Instagram formatting I was able to post a small informal multiple choice trivia game on our stories to which a pleasantly surprising number of our followers answered.

While the participation was great, it did go to show that quite a few people within our school community were still not all that aware of the statistics or prevalence of childhood cancer, which is why  I have been in talks with Ms. Tanuja (our service teacher), Saesha (the other service leader) and a family friend of mine who has worked closely with the Cancer Hospital for the past few weeks. More specifically, we collectively came to a conclusion that it was important to make people, especially within our school community,  understand the reality of the situation as well as how we can help patients as well as help prevent it so I took it upon myself to reach out to a doctor to get in touch with us and perhaps give us a small virtual session on what I mentioned earlier. In this way we could also record it and share it via our social media while also coming up with more effective fundraising plans. However, there is still somewhat of a difficulty in getting in touch with a doctor during this time because of the peaking of the Covid-19 cases within the country which has left first responders in a bit of a time crunch which we have to be understanding about.  Nonetheless, she has promised to reach out to us the moment her workload diminishes so that we can carry out our meeting.

This has been a great opportunity for me to step up as a leader and also a great reflective period to upgrade and improve what we already had while also being a convenient time for us to plan ahead for the future and next year and the fundraisers we could be carrying out then!

^My story awareness project for our Instagram followers

^ The new Hope for Kids logo, which I designed earlier this year

^ Previous Hope for Kids logo

Coaching

My Return to Coaching 

As a part of one of my CAS experiences that applies to both service and activity, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a co-coach of Decathlon’s La Academia on a voluntary basis. I had about 2-3 months of total work experience, where I coached kids aged 5-11 each Sunday before COVID forced the club to shut down due to health precautions. Precautions which are still applicable as of now, especially considering that these kids are rather young and since the club can’t really afford to take any liability for the spread of the pandemic. So in the absence of my half internship half part time job, I decided that I could find other alternatives to do the same but in a different context.

After hearing about my time as co-coach, I was approached by a few of my parents’ friends who were wondering if I could spend one on one time coaching their kids. This was a brilliant opportunity for me to both practice my ability to coach and to share some of my experience so I immediately said yes.  Now, naturally there would be no pay involved, but I would take any excuse to play the game and even teach some kids a few things about something that was so important to me growing up so there really is no loss in taking it up. So starting last Sunday, I began leading my own sessions, I have 4 kids who come for training as of right now, mostly 7 and 8 year old’s from the OSC community itself  along with another kid who is a neighbor  (we don’t have a field to play in as of now which I am not too worried about since we currently play in one of my mom’s friends backyard’s with two goal posts as well).

Although the initiative may seem small in numbers right now, I think that it couldn’t really be more ideal. For one thing, I have known most of these kids since they were little so engaging with them is much easier, on a second note I’m a single coach whereas at Decathlon there were two others so I prefer keeping it low in terms of numbers as it’s easier to manage especially since they’re at a very talkative and mischievous stage, and lastly, like I said earlier, there is very much a pandemic raging on right now so it’s safest to keep the numbers small.

From first day experience I can only describe is a both fun and draining. The kids that I got introduced to are quite energetic (that might be a little bit of an understatement) so retaining their attention for extended periods of time has been by far the trickiest part of coaching, but thankfully with my earlier experiences I now know how to deal with that.

I began their sessions with a few laps around the garden, some basic stretches and warmups and passing drills. Next I put aside cones for them to dribble around, and we spent a good amount of time making sure they knew where to pass from and how to keep control of the football. Next we practiced some heading since I knew it was important to alternate my drills between educational and somewhat fun to keep their interests. Towards the last 30 minutes of my two hour session with them I decided to let them play 2 v 2, even playing the role of goalie when none of them wanted to be in goal. It was also important to give them little tips here and there to communicate, not clutter around and pass the ball and judging by their laughs they were having as much a blast as  I was watching them race to take shots. I have to say that  I was pleasantly surprised by how good they played for their age level. Just before they headed off I decided to incorporate one last fun piece, which was to try and teach them each a skill move before they went home; last week it was the nutmeg which they absolutely loved, but they played rock paper scissors to decide who got to pick the next skill they wanted to learn.

Overall, it was incredibly rewarding and I really look forward to doing it again in the coming weeks  :))

^ Evan practicing his ball control on day 1 of practice

Making Desserts

I might just be competent enough to cook…

A few months ago around Christmas time, I took on a few challenges to learn how to make certain dishes, i.e. make cookies, bake some bread people, and even make some homemade ice cream. At the time however, I could by no means be left unsupervised in the kitchen out of fear for everything getting burned to a crisp or having the risk of having recipe going terribly wrong, but here I am 3 months later having grown significantly in my cooking abilities after many hours of practice and last but not least, episodes of My Kitchen Rules  Oh… and I can be left to make things on my own now… 😭

Over the past few months I’ve tried to do my best to be helpful around the kitchen, whether that was for making dinner with my mom or making desserts for birthdays of family members and friends. Over these few weeks I have successfully mastered the art of cake making, churro making and tiramisu and chocolate biscuit pudding making. (I am pleased to confirm that the tiramisu and churros with chocolate sauce have become high in demand).

So how did I go from incapable of being unsupervised in the kitchen to Nigella Lawson the next day ?(that was a quite and awful comparison, my bad, Nigella is the queen of the culinary world and I could never possibly measure up to her). Well, in reality I really owe it to my mom who has a tireless way of looking up random recipes that catch her eye and then pulling out all stops with it with her own unique additions. The first few times around I just observed how she did things in the kitchen being allowed to occasionally stir and mix things, but soon it became a scenario while I did most the work with her giving me some life changing advice in the midst.

And so it became that I learned make my own recipes which caught my eye, helped make Grandpa’s birthday cake and even made 2 dishes of pineapple gateau  and 2 chocolate biscuit pudding dishes for a family function . The highlight for me, personally was also being able to make churros and dip all by myself, and I was elated seeing how quickly the plate finished.

Now naturally, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, for instance, this one time I dropped a piping bag into hot oil containing churro batter (oops), but I learned to adopt new techniques and improvise. No matter how slow or fast the progress, I am happy knowing for a fact that this is going to be useful to me in college when I am expected to cook for myself, so I’m really glad I’m getting the practice now. As for the future, I would really like to learn how to make more savory dishes because that would probably come even more in handy, it’s always the effort that counts!

Here are a few of the desserts I made with minimal assistance:

^ chocolate cake for my grandma’s birthday

^ pineapple gateau!

 

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