This post was written by Shivani P. in response to the Day 24 Challenge: Schedule a time to volunteer and commit to seeing it through.
Volunteering, more often than not, is an engaging and fulfilling activity. However, when taking college into account, volunteering becomes more of another item on your list to excel at and less of a charitable act. There is a constant pressure to volunteer enough hours and volunteer for meaningful organizations, essentially pressuring us to weigh the true worth of the organizations we volunteer for. With college applications sent out, the pressure has significantly decreased, and it is safe to say that volunteering is a much more enjoyable activity. I have taken several steps to support local causes.
Earlier this month, all of the leads in SACA (Students for Asian Cultural Awareness), including me, decided to get together and have a fundraiser for a local charity in honor of this challenge. The charity we selected is called Anubuthi. Anubuthi is a charity that focuses on providing children in India with a welcoming atmosphere, allowing them to thrive educationally. Their main focus is instilling lifelong learning habits and providing them with technical resources that enable them to succeed. Anubhuti strives to enlighten children about inherent perfection to create a better society and believe that “education is a journey to character building and [is a] process that does not stop at school." They aspire to remove any financial constraints that may keep children from pursuing an education and simultaneously empower families to become self sufficient. Another focus of Anubhuti is to empower women. Anubhuti runs a self help group called Kamdhenu for stay-at-home home mothers that focuses on helping these women market and sell products.
In addition to this charity, I began trying to volunteer for some more local events. I signed up to help out the musical for the past few shows a few weeks ago for NHS. While this was a local cause, it was still through an organization I had to fulfill a volunteer requirement for, so I looked into volunteering at the local food pantry. I’m excited to keep searching for more local causes I can volunteer for!
This post was written by Rachel B. in response to the Day 18 challenge action: Share your ideas about what it means to be a responsible citizen in 21st century America.
In our society it’s easy to get caught up in the capitalistic materialism of mainstream America, especially in today’s age with social media’s grip on the American community. Unfortunately, the results of materialistic America are detrimental to what it means to be a responsible citizen, in that many people forget to treat others fairly and with kindness. However, I believe that we can change American society if more people become involved in trying to be a responsible citizen. In 21st century America, citizens who promote equality and support a community in which conscientiousness and kindness is the norm, I believe that more people will understand what it means to be a responsible citizen, and change American society for the better. The 30 Day Challenge exposes students to what it means to be a responsible citizen, so that we will be equipped with the tools we need to understand equity, moral goodness, and respect, furthering the goal of creating an accepting community.
Within our community, there are many traits that make up what a responsible citizen should be, such as someone who is fair, understanding, cooperative, and loyal. These traits are important, as it is easy to get caught up in the constant arguments of today’s divided society, especially when politics are involved. However, I have experienced the conversations between responsible citizens regarding politics, from two citizens with opposing views, and it was respectful and calm, and both parties were willing to listen to the other. This experience was eye-opening, as many conversations about politics result in ruined relationships, anger, and hatred, especially from two opposing political parties. However, each side let the other speak, and I asked questions, to clarify some points that were being made. I encourage others to participate in this experience as responsible citizens, because we can show the rest of the community that politics don’t have to result in arguments from opposing political parties. Responsible citizens are able to have these intellectual conversations, or at least work hard to learn how to have them. I believe that if more people have polite conversations, then American society can eliminate a factor that provokes violence and hatred in the community.
Furthermore, responsible citizens are aware of the divisions within America’s society, and as citizens we can promote a community that is a whole unit so that hostility can be avoided. An issue within American society is the lines that divide citizens such as political parties, races and ethnicities, regions and locations. Thus, responsible citizens see through these lines, and rather than dividing people into groups, we understand how to form a community in which no one person feels threatened for their beliefs, customs, or way of life. Thus, I believe that responsible citizens can look through the hostility, and put an end to racism and discrimination.
Ultimately, responsible citizens must understand justice, equality, community, diversity, and liberty, and know how they can use these ideas to make society a better place. In a perfect world, everyone would agree on everything, there would be no discrimination, and people of all races and religions would be able to experience equality. Unfortunately, perfect worlds don’t exist. However, I believe that with the work of responsible citizens, we can create an environment in which people of American society can feel more comfortable being themselves, and put an end to the divisions that separate Americans and create hostility. The 30 Day Challenge shows students what it means to be a responsible citizen so that we can begin our experience of helping others to create an inspiring and loyal community.
This post was written by Meghan M. in response to the Day 22 Challenge Action: Commit a random act of kindness.
On Day 22 of the BHS Responsible Citizenship Challenge, students were asked to commit a random act of kindness. This challenge action was incorporated into the 30-Day Challenge in order to promote community and spirit throughout our high school, town, and beyond. As a participant of the challenge, I reflected on my daily routines and decided that in addition to holding the door for someone, giving a compliment, or granting an act of kindness that is just part of daily interactions, I would do something different. After thinking about what it meant to grant a random act of kindness, I decided to participate in the challenge by paying it forward and buying a coffee for the car behind me in the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru. After completing this action, I was able to see just how easy it was to improve someone’s day. When driving away, I noticed the woman smile and wave appreciatively. Paying for a stranger’s coffee took little time out of my own day and knowing I did something nice for someone is a pleasure in itself. I felt prideful when I saw how my simple action changed someone’s day for the better, as well fascinated as to how a simple, random act of kindness connects to the upholding of democratic values in America. My hope is that the woman behind me did the same and bought a coffee for the car behind her.
Simple actions as such do a great deal in the promotion of community. Seeing that others care about you enough, care about the idea of community enough to treat people with kindness is inspiring. Seeing others' reactions to these acts of kindness exemplifies the importance of community. When people feel part of a caring community, part of a group that's all working together, all trying to achieve the same thing - happiness - we can make an actual difference. People's lives and attitudes can be changed. Acts of kindness aim to support unity. By lightening up someone's day, we work to break down the negativity and separation individuals are facing in today's world. The BHS 30-Day Challenge aims to promote interaction with others in order to advocate for the advancement of social justice. Through small acts like this, we can see the impact of treating others with care. We can see how seemingly trivial actions have big results. We can work towards building a better community.
This post was written by Sidra A. in response to the Day 9 challenge action: to engage in a respectful dialogue with someone who holds different political views than you do.
This challenge required students to engage in conversation with people of differing political views, or any views in general. Our English class went down to the lower library to complete this action by participating in the "conversation stations" activity. These stations included questions and discussion prompts that were designed to help us talk about important issues without immediately focusing on the politics surrounding them. For example, one of the questions asked: "What are the most important factors in maintaining a well functioning society? What does it mean for a society to function well?" Others inquired about our feelings on art, technology, and the environment. Though each topic is one currently being debated in the political arena, the questions asked us to really consider what we think about these topics before we attach them to politics. It helped to prompt thoughtfulness and discussion.
We attended each conversation station with different people and were able to hear their views and present ours as well. It was a safe and friendly environment where students felt comfortable to speak their minds. We may all be different, look different, think different, but we all bleed red. In essence, we all are the same, equal. We must respect our differences and overcome them in order to gain friendship rather than allow them to become obstacles in our lives. Having conversation is the most engaging way to learn about someone, to find similarities and understand differences, and to determine how to work together. Talking is caring.
This post was written by Melanie S. in response to the Day 17 Challenge: Go Green. Be vigilant about limiting your ecological footprint.
In this day and age, attention to the environment is critical; however, many people fail to think about their ecological impact. Carelessly throwing away excess food, plastic, and paper products, the accumulating landfill has certainly taken a toll on the world around us. Many do not realize that recycling, buying fewer consumer products, or even using washable containers in lieu of plastic bags can drastically reduce our ecological footprint on the planet. Let me backtrack a little so you may understand the concept of an ecological footprint. This concept is the amount of human impact on the planet, which is measured individually or as a community. The more eco-friendly an individual is, the smaller footprint that individual has on the environment.
On March 17, St. Paddy’s Day, the challenge action was to go green and be vigilant about your ecological footprint. Burlington High School students were encouraged to be aware of their impact on the environment and research environmental scientists who examined the ecological footprint. This day was a more difficult day for me because I already recycle plastic and paper products so I had to think of new and innovative ways to reduce my ecological footprint. I looked up an ecological footprint calculator and began my exploration. As the website asked me questions, I began to realize how simple it was to reduce my impact. For example, buying locally grown foods, eating lower on the food chain, and even starting a compost in my backyard can lower Carbon Dioxide emissions from transporting the products, reduce excess waste from bones and fat, and adding nutrients back into the soil. Other things such as making fresh squeezed fruit instead of buying juice (throwing out the container) and turning off the lights when certain rooms are not in use greatly reduces your environmental impact.
This challenge encouraged thinking outside of the box and being aware of yourself and everything around you, which is something that we learned when reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Though this novel does not address environmental issues at all, it does highlight the importance of awareness, of being conscious of your beliefs and behavior, of understanding your impact on the people and places around you. The novel - one that addresses issues of class; echoes Gatsby in its presentation of the dangers of nostalgia; and provides a critical view of racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and patriotism - really helped to open our eyes. Thinking about how we develop our beliefs, as well as our habits and behaviors extends beyond the thematic topics of the book. What we do as individuals impacts others. Our actions can make a difference.
The Go Green challenge action was interesting, informative, and beneficial. It served as an important gateway to making the world a better, safer place. More importantly, it prompted thought about how we live and how our decisions affect others.
The following post was written by Erin H. in response to the Day 16 Challenge Action: Attend an event that promotes equal rights for all.
Day 16 of the 30 Day Challenge was to attend an event that promotes equal rights for all. On this day, the Devils' Playlist teamed up with us to host an equity event in the cafeteria where anyone and everyone could come and be part of the community as we shared ice cream, listened to some music, and talked about equality. Students who attended the event also had the opportunity to sign our pledge committing to act as a responsible citizen and to promote the values of equality, justice, diversity, liberty, and community.
While attending this event I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who came to support our cause. As I looked around the room I noticed that there were so many different people - people from different backgrounds with different ideas and different thoughts. There were people there who I have never seen before, and people who I have know for all four years of high school. We were all together in one place to support the same cause. In such a diverse school I think it is important to know that so many people do support equality and are committed to understanding what it means to be a responsible citizen. When waiting in line to sign the pledge I found myself talking to the people next to me even if I did not know them. As we talked about the music, what kind of ice cream we liked, and what we think about equality, I realized we had more in common than I thought. Even with so many different students it was easy to find similarities with people who used to be strangers to me. By acting on this challenge action we were able to share a nice moment with people we might not have talked to otherwise, and discuss why we were there. It was comforting to learn that our efforts to promote responsible citizenship wouldn't end with this project, that the students of BHS really want to continue the work.
When I asked people what they thought about the event, they all said that they support the cause. In fact, when I asked one of my friends about it, her response was: “I think it's great! Doesn’t everyone support equality?” This response made me start to think; it is just about everyone's assumption that we all support equality, but that's not necessarily true. There is a lot of injustice in the world and a lot of work we need to do. I soon realized how lucky we are to be in this high school and this town where we can express freely what we think. I started to ask people if they believe that we moving towards a more equal world today. Most people agreed, while others argued that though we might see more movements towards equality today, there isn’t equality everywhere. Inequities exist. We are becoming more aware of them, but we need to do more. As responsible citizens we need to support events like so we can become more conscious of our world, engage in conversations that make us think and determine how we can best work to make our world a place that is equal for all.
The following post was written by Will W. in response to the Day 15 Challenge Action: Sit at a different table in the cafeteria at lunch. Break social boundaries and maybe make some new friends.
For Day 15 of the Responsible Citizenship Challenge, I was tasked with sitting at a different table at lunch with a new group of kids. I decided that not only was I going to sit with kids from a different social group, I was going to sit with kids from an entirely different culture. This year at BHS, we have a handful of students who have transferred here from different countries. We have two students from Italy, one student from Brazil and one student from China. Interestingly, they all choose to eat lunch together. Despite coming from different corners of the globe, they all find a common ground in their experiences as newcomers to America.
High school cafeterias are a perfect illustration of the cultural division in society. While it may seem like everyone is merely sitting with their friends, a quick observation will reveal the clear social groups. Students subconsciously group themselves by ethnicity, academic ability, extracurricular activities, or perceived “popularity”. I found myself guilty of this grouping myself, as I tend to sit exclusively with students from the band. The goal of Day 15 was to break down these divisions, even if just for a day. In my 20 minutes with a new set of students I realized I had more in common with them than I could have ever imagined.
Honestly, I went into lunch bracing myself for forced conversation and long, awkward silences. To my relief, the students were friendly and welcoming. Each lit up when I asked them about their lives before moving to Burlington and their plans for the future. Much like myself, academics play a major role in all of their lives. Even more surprisingly, we all have pretty similar interests. All four of them hope to have careers in science. We spoke about our experiences in Burlington, and shared our favorite spots in Boston. I realized that, despite growing up thousands of miles apart, we were not very different. We are all teenagers, and we are all people, so why do we assume that we are so different? This challenge may have only been for one day, but I have found myself in the midst of new friendships that will last far beyond today.
This post was written by Gabby D. in response to the Day 12 Challenge Action: Reflect on politically or socially motivated artwork.
We all have to admit that with the high and rising tension produced by the most recent presidential election, responsible citizenship has most likely not been a priority for the majority of Americans. The 30 Day Challenge helps us to stay on track and start small. As a school, the challenge allows us to focus on what we can do both as individuals and as a community to maintain responsible citizenship throughout this difficult time. Art, is a wonderful way to express feelings and open up about a particular political or social issue. As a creative outlet, art is a technique for relieving stress as well. So, if you are ever feeling angry, upset, uncomfortable, unsafe, or just about anything, but cannot find the words to show how you feel, art just might help you voice your opinion.
Christina Galbiati is a designer, educator, and contemporary artist who resides in the northeastern region of Pennsylvania. She works in collage and makes efforts to express her opinions and feelings on almost anything that occurs in her life. On her website, there is a “Social Art” section that welcomes people to view her series of collages reflecting on controversial social issues as well as tense political situations. One piece that caught my eye is entitled “A Nation Divided” (pictured below). Galbiati based this image upon her feeling following the 2004 Kerry/Bush election. Motivated by the strict divide that emerged in the United States at the time of the election, Galbiati successfully used contrast to express the spilt feelings of Americans. While this particular collage was created not in reference to the Trump/Clinton election, it remains very relevant today.
Galbiati’s piece conveys the splitting of citizens of the United States based upon political views that followed a highly controversial election. She uses a cluster of words such as “out of touch,” “greed,” and “money” to form the silhouette of the United States. Galbiati uses those particular phrases to suggest that Americans do not seem to be on the same page and elaborate on why there is such a disconnect. While the overall message of Galbiati’s “A Nation Divided” is rather frightening, it is still beautiful that she was able to expresses her feelings through the creative outlet of art.
For more of Christina Galbiati's work, check out her blog
The following post was written by Sarah P. in response to the Day 13 Challenge Action: High-Five a random person in the hallway.
Today’s challenge was to high-five a random person in the hallway. The theory behind the action it is that it will help us to initiate a connection with another student and possibly make someone's day a little brighter.
What this challenge did for me, personally, is to make me more aware of other students passing by me in between classes. Usually I just walk to my next class as quickly as possible, without really paying attention to others. On this day, I looked around, and as I was looking for a potential high-five recipient, I noticed how hard it was. I expected to just walk down every hall with my hand out, high-fiving everyone. But, it wasn't as easy as that. Hallways are chaotic; kids don't stay in their lane. It was difficult to walk up to someone moving past me and give them a high five.
Another obstacle to the challenge I found particularly difficult is that most people are looking down at their phones while they walk during passing periods; they are blocking out the world. Students aren't taking even these small opportunities in between classes to look around, to see who is in our school community. Making connections with people is hard when they are staring down at their phones, basically signaling others to stay away.
Something more personal that I discovered about myself from trying this challenge action is how anxious I get in even simple social interactions. Whenever I saw a person who I could high-five, I got too nervous and missed the chance. I did manage to high-five a few people, but they were people I knew so I felt more comfortable interacting with them.
Though high-fiving a stranger who isn't expecting it isn't really your standard social interaction, it still serves as a reminder that we would all benefit from more opportunities to interact with each other. It would help people to become more comfortable with others, and to be more open to putting themselves out there. This challenge was a nice way to encourage people in our school community to engage with each other more.
The following post was written by Alex D. in response to the Day 5 Action Challenge: Read an article that expresses a different opinion about a political or social issue than the one you hold, and reflect on the argument presented.
The article I chose to read for this challenge was “After Orlando We Need More Pro-Life Christians” by Kevin Wright. The article refers to the shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, FL. In the shooting, 49 people were killed and 53 more were injured. Wright argues that attacks such as this one can be prevented with the help of Pro-Life Christians. He believes that pro-life Christians have the power to put an end to this gun violence, and since they value life enough to stand up against abortion, they should also stand up against guns. Wright makes the distinction between pro-life and pro-birth anti-abortion activists. His thought is that if one is simply pro-birth, one is not necessarily standing up for the rights of those who are alive.
I found this article to be close-minded. Though the point is to open the minds of pro-life activists, the argument is limiting. While Pro-Life Christians may be against gun violence, this article excludes all other people who want an end to gun violence. Refusing to allow women access to abortions has absolutely no effect on the rate of gun violence. There is no correlation with the two issues. The argument seems to connect these things for no reason. I believe that women should have the right to decide what they want to do with their body, especially in instances when pregnancies are caused by rape. A woman who has had an abortion can be just as helpful as a Pro-Life Christian in acting out against gun violence.
While the objective of the article has merit and aims to remind people to stand up for their values even when it is hard, even when it might prompt an internal conflict, I don't like how it does so by reinforcing a national divide. It is time that people all joined together in order to stop such acts of violence, rather than singling out certain groups and claiming them to be either particularly obligated or unworthy of striving for a better world.