By Sophia Bernazzani, CDB Class of 2005
Every gifted child has a unique story. The following story is the second in a series of posts highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs, depicting the many faces of gifted. Sophia is an alumna of the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship program, which awards highly gifted applicants with a four-year scholarship to a high school that fits their individual intellectual and personal needs. Here, she shares the experience she had volunteering in New Orleans.
This March, I went on an Alternative Spring Break trip with 105 other George Washington University students to New Orleans, Louisiana, where we worked in public schools and built houses for seven days.
The process to get to and from New Orleans from Washington was organized and led by students. We asked for spare change at subway stations, wrote grant proposals, did letter writing and online donating campaigns, sponsored each other in marathons, and forged partnerships with local vendors to share some of their profits with us. We rode a bus for 22 hours each way to get there, stayed at a sleepaway Christian summer camp in rooms full of bunk beds that slept near 40, and ate the cheapest food you could ever imagine, but we managed to stay within our means.
The service was a rewarding and fun way to meet other students like me who are passionate about service to others and put in tangible terms the power of people to change and affect the lives of others for the better. I worked with 6th and 8th grade students in a KIPP Public Charter School, and I worked with half of the students on the trip to work towards the completion of one house and began the foundation of another. Our entire crew completed three homes and began one more. We also talked to Teach For America Corps members about their time working in New Orleans schools, and public charter school administrators about the process of improving New Orleans school systems post-Hurricane Katrina.
The trip was my first ever visit to New Orleans, and not only was I able to experience the vibrant culture of the city, but I learned more about the challenges and adversity that have faced our fellow Americans since Katrina in 2005 and how much more is still left to be done. As an international affairs student passionate about global health, public service, and education, my trip was an amazing opportunity to work domestically to help the lives of others, and however great or small our impact had, it was gratifying to know that we were part of the effort to rebuild New Orleans.
Thanks for sharing your story, Sophia! Have you or your kids participated in any service activities like Sophia’s? What was your experience? Please share with us in the comment section below!