Other ways to spend summer vacation
Gianna Biaggi displays informational materials in preparation for her trip to Paraguay this summer with Amigos de las Americas.
Last week, I focused on students who are spending their summers in jobs and internships. But many other students have found different ways to fill the three months of summer, from summer school to Paraguayan leadership excursions, from local community service work to participating with activists against child labor in Kosovo.
Community service is a great way to spend the long days of summer. Many local organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley, Vintage House senior center and the Sonoma Ecology Center, readily welcome youth volunteers. By performing volunteer work, you not only get the chance to improve your community and make a difference, you also establish an important credential for your college applications. Volunteer work, especially consistent work with the same organizations, helps you stand out as an involved, well-rounded applicant.
Ella Krikorian, rising senior, volunteers her time at the Sonoma Music and Arts School (SMAS), where she instructs students in piano, voice and presentation. “I teach them how to be present on stage and gain confidence in themselves and their music,” she explains. Krikorian, who has been involved in Sonoma’s music scene since childhood, began volunteering at SMAS “to give back to the music community in Sonoma,” and to “have the chance to get working experience in a field I was interested in.” She volunteers once a week, but is planning on spending more time as a teacher for SMAS now that the school year has ended. “Being able to help at SMAS was another experience that convinced me that pursuing a career in music was the right choice,” she said.
Leadership and communication are just a few of the other important skills to help students succeed. Being able to take charge of a situation and handle it responsibly is a skill not only necessary for school, but for life in general. Communication skills are also extremely beneficial, as the most successful people are often those who can communicate effectively in order to accomplish goals.
One SVHS student will be getting lessons abroad in both leadership and communications. Gianna Biaggi, who will be a senior this fall, plans to spend nearly a month in Paraguay living with a host family and attending classes on leadership and community improvement. Biaggi was selected as one of 13 youth ambassadors from the entire Bay Area to be a part of the Amigos Youth Ambassador Program, that includes an all-expense paid trip to Paraguay. “One of the requirements for going on the trip is the installation of a complete community service project in our hometown. I’m planning to do an outdoor education project at Jack London State Park, and the program will also be a part of my senior project,” said Biaggi. Her trip lasts from July 10 to Aug. 3 and, when she is not attending classes, she will be absorbing the culture and spending time with her fellow ambassadors.
And while some students improve their futures by improving their communities, others improve their futures by taking summer classes in order to get ahead for the 2012-13 academic year.
Rising junior Seth August is one such student, spending his days in summer school – by choice. Like several of his peers, August is taking chemistry over the summer, rather than during his junior or senior year. He said, “I’m doing it to get ahead in science and also so that it doesn’t interfere with sports next year.” (August enjoys both basketball and baseball). The class lasts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and is taught by Mick O’Meara. Other summer school students are taking Introduction to Technology, Algebra I or working as teacher’s assistants for school credit.
Sean Hall, rising senior, is spending three weeks of his summer in Kosovo, a region in southeastern Europe, where he is currently working with a group of Kosovar activists to fight against child labor and other youth-related issues. Hall explained, “I’ve corrected the English of their newsletters, given an outside opinion on some of their goals or methods, and attended a meeting with government officials to review the status of child labor in Kosovo, among other tasks.”
Hall, who has always been interested in international diplomacy, received the opportunity through various international connections. “Last year, I met an American living in Britain who has experience in social work … He gave me the contact of a Kosovar social worker who, after hearing about me, my interests, and my qualifications, locked up the internship for me,” he said. When he isn’t busy at work, Hall has been exploring the capital city of Pristina and working on his Albanian.
With so many ways to spend the summer, there’s no reason to waste it. Even if you can’t take an international trip, you can find ways to occupy yourself that hopefully don’t involve an excess of video games and television. Start running. Take up yoga. Get involved with a charity. Learn to cook or bake. Make new friends. Paint. Take photos. Go somewhere you’ve never been.
The possibilities are nearly endless. It’s mid-June already, and we go back to school in August, so get up and get started on your adventures ASAP.