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12 reflections on Community, Activity, and Service

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In november of 2021, I went to Puno, southern Peru, to complete a field visit to the communities benefited by Project Horizons, my community service project. This I did after a long planning process- I had to coordinate dates, times, and visit schedules with the admin team of The Chijnaya Foundation, the NGO that helped me with the on-the-ground completion of Project Horizons- the first picture above features our team planning the visit out. We faced the important challenge of organizing the trip during a series of weeks that were projected to have a lot of rain- as the villages we were to visit were very offroad and inaccessible through asphalted roads, this was a real logistical problem. We overcame this by quite literally mapping out alternate routes we could take- talking to ferry captains, local guides, and even alpaca herders. The rain didn’t end up causing us any real problems (we only got stuck in mud once) but the planning process the trip involved taught me important lessons on organization.

Once reaching Puno, I was very lucky to be able to experience the culture, cuisine, and art that these picturesque villages situated at the shores of Lake Titikaka offer and break bread with the people I helped through a project that had previously been so abstract. On the first day of this field visit, I visited the communities of Lampayuni and Ccotos, both around 3.5 hours away from the city of Puno, where I was staying. I visited around five families and got to know them personally. I had the opportunity to talk about how and why they’d use drip irrigation and about the benefits the technology could bring them. On the second day, I visited Llachon and Amantani, also far away from Puno and nestled amongst the Andean highlands. Here, I helped install two drip irrigation systems and had productive conversations with the beneficiaries about how Project Horizons could aid them combat malnutrition, anaemia, and soil erosion in the future.

This CAS activity connects to the learning outcomes of Challenge and Skills, Planning, and Global Significance.

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As IB econ class ramps up in difficulty, I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends don’t understand the core concepts of the course. Considering I did AP microeconomics independently in 10th grade and that I’ve written a research essay on macroeconomics published by the Ricardo Palma University here in Lima, I decided to help classmates, peers, and friends out by offering one-on-one and groupal (free) tutoring and review sessions. I did a total of 15 hourlong sessions throughout the first semester, committing to helping my classmates develop academically in a subject I’m so interested in while also reviewing my own knowledge- after all, teaching is a form of learning as well. 

In the second semester, I continued to offer review and tutoring sessions to help my classmates better understand the core concepts of the IB economics course. Through these sessions, I was able to challenge myself to explain complex economic ideas in a way that was accessible to my peers. This required me to have a deep understanding of the material and to be able to think on my feet. I found the experience to be rewarding, as I was able to help others while also reinforcing my own knowledge of economics. I also gained valuable communication and teaching skills through this experience.

This CAS activity connects to the learning outcomes of Strength and Growth, Challenges and Skills, and Perseverance and Commitment.

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The Darbuka, or goblet drum, is a type of percussion instrument found throughout the Middle East. It is easy to start playing, but very difficult to master. I found my passion for the darbuka at the beginning of 10th grade when I bough one while on vacation in my home country of Turkey, and now, I spend at least half an hour a day just drumming away stress and worry. 


In eleventh grade, I decided to take my passion for the darbuka to the next level by taking online video courses to develop my playing skills. These courses allowed me to learn many new rhythms and playing styles, which challenged me to push myself as a musician. I also gained a deeper understanding of Turkish musical history, which added a new level of appreciation and enjoyment to my playing. Through this experience, I was able to grow as a musician and develop new skills, which required dedication and perseverance. Overall, this CAS activity allowed me to pursue my passion for the darbuka and to challenge myself to become a better player.


Learning Outcomes: Strength and Growth, Challenge and Skills, and Commitment and Perseverance.

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During the pandemic, I also I took up running and biking to avoid the inactivity and the incredible boredom these unprecedented times bring. I decided to set myself an exercise goal for five days of the week: I’d either reach a step goal of 10,000 or work out on the stationary bike I am lucky to have at home for 45 minutes.


As a result of the pandemic lockdowns, running and biking became a crucial part of my daily routine. I could no longer do the other sports I enjoy, swimming and golf, so running provided me with an outlet for stress and anxiety, and allowed me to stay active and healthy. I was able to challenge myself by setting goals for myself, such as reaching a certain step count or biking for a certain amount of time. This required commitment and perseverance, as I had to stick to my exercise routine even on days when I didn't feel like it. Through this experience, I was able to grow both physically and mentally, as regular exercise has numerous benefits for both the body and the mind. 


I still stick to this program, and while presencial school has definitely left me with less time and energy to run and bike as much I’d like, I still like to keep to my five-times-a-week schedule.


Learning Outcomes: Strength and Growth, Challenge and Skills, and Commitment and Perseverance.

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As my community service project began to have an impact on beneficiary communities and as pictures started rolling in of the people that received the drip irrigation kits we donated, I decided to start an intagram account to post about the progress. Even though it has a relatively small following, I use it to provide “progress reports” and offer accountability and transparency as to what the money I fundraised is being spent on. 


As the project continued, I decided to start an Instagram account to document its progress and impact. This required me to develop new skills, such as graphic design, in order to create engaging content for the page. I also had to learn how to use social media effectively to share information about the project and to connect with our donors and beneficiaries. Through this experience, I was able to challenge myself to learn new skills and to plan and execute a social media strategy for the project. I also gained a deeper understanding of the global significance of our work, as I was able to see the impact of the drip irrigation kits on the lives of the people who received them. Overall, this CAS activity allowed me to grow as a learner and a person, and to make a positive contribution to my community.


Learning Outcomes: Strength and Growth, Challenge and Skills, Commitment and Perseverance, Planning, and Global Significance.

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When I was signing up for ICC (inter-class competition ) activities, I knew I had to be a part of the cooking competition. Even though I’ve never had much time to spend on the practice, cooking has always been of special interest to me, as I come from two cultures (turkish and peruvian) with incredible gastronomies. Upon learning about the theme of the cooking cometitioon, which was to cook and plate a Korean dish in ninety minutes, and talking to my team of four friends, I came up with the idea of cooking Mandu. Mandu are Korean dumplings with a pork and chicken filling- they’re easy top prepare, delicious, and can be presented beautifully. The challenge was, I had never eaten or cooked mandu, and neither had anyone in my team!


So to make the best mandu we possibly could, my teammates and I went to a Korean restaurant in lima to taste the real thing, and upon doing so, visited the korean stores in the vicinity to buy the ingredients. We then went to one of our teammates’ house to practice cooking them- to a motivating result. We were ready to represent the Junior prom in the cooking competition and hopefully take first place. 


The pictures above are from the day of the event- we were utterly concentrated, chopping and cutting and mixing and frying all the ingredients. The conveyor belt cooking system we set up -where everyone had specific individual tasks they had to complete- worked to our benefit, and we ended up winning first place in the competition!


This activity connects to the learning outcomes of strengths and growth, challenges and skills, initiative and planning and collaboration.

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As treasurer of the BPA (Business Professionals of America Honor Society) at school, I proposed, planned, and helped implement our first project of the 2022-2023 school year. The BPA Treasury project has as its main objective to help clubs, honor societies, and student-led organizations organize their finances transparently through providing inflow and outflow analysis of organizational finances, and confirming that the money coming in is the money coming out and collecting all member organization balance sheets under an FDR BPA database, making them visible to all the school community. It doesw this by offering consulting and auditing services, helping structure and organize club finances. To date, it has audited a total of $40,000.


I felt the need to propose and implement such a project after becoming aware of the disarray of the financial records of school-related organizations. Most clubs did not keep proper financial records, and the records that were kept were exceedingly opaque- there was no sense of transparency. Transparency in monetary records is a touchy topic in Peru, which has a history of corruption and embezzlement, so implementing this program was of even higher priority: educating peers on the importance of clear finances was very important to me as a peruvian. As the leaders of the BPA honor society, we thought it appropriate to create a program to help organizational transparency and increase accountability to the school community, increasing trust and providing valuable information to all of highschool. 


The BPA transparency program is now used by every in-school club on campus, and school administration has made it a requirement for all organizations to submit to regular audits and have signed copies of the Transparency Contract to be able to conduct any type of monetary or financial activity. 


Learning outcomes: Ethics, planning

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As secretary of the Junior Prom, I was responsible for helping to organize our class's participation in the 2022 inter-class competition. This was a weeklong event where the four high school proms competed against each other in a variety of competitions. As a member of the organizing team, I had to take on a variety of tasks, including procuring themed sweatshirts and t-shirts, signing up participants for activities, scheduling participation sessions, and keeping track of scores.
This experience taught me a lot about leadership and communication. Coordinating the activities of 138 juniors was challenging, but it was also incredibly rewarding. I learned how to effectively communicate with my team members and how to delegate tasks in order to make sure everything ran smoothly. I also gained valuable experience in project management, as I had to plan and execute a series of events within a tight timeline.
In addition to the skills I developed, this CAS activity also allowed me to make a positive contribution to my community. By organizing the inter-class competition, I was able to help create a fun and memorable experience for my fellow students. I was able to bring people together and to foster a sense of community and teamwork. Overall, this was a valuable and rewarding experience that taught me a lot about myself and my abilities.

Learning outcomes: Challenge and Skills, Strength and Growth

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As a member of the student body government, I was asked to lead the SBG's monthly assemblies. For the November assembly, I decided to organize a Halloween costume contest. This involved creating a rubric for judging the costumes and contacting teachers to serve as judges. The process of planning and organizing the contest took about two weeks.


On the day of the assembly, I asked my fellow SBG members to help with the logistics of the contest. We stood at the entrance of the stage and sent participants from different classes up to be judged. This ensured that all promotions had an equal chance of winning the 120 mini-cinnabons that were at stake.


The assembly was a great success. People were cheering their friends on, motivated to participate, and having a great time. We saw some creative and impressive costumes, and the senior class ended up winning. Overall, this experience taught me a lot about leadership and event planning. I had to think on my feet and make decisions in real-time to ensure that the contest ran smoothly. I also gained valuable experience in communication and collaboration, as I worked with my fellow SBG members and the teachers who served as judges. Overall, this was a rewarding and enjoyable CAS activity that allowed me to make a positive contribution to my community.

Learning outcomes: Collaboration, creativity

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As treasurer of the Business Professionals of America honor society, I was tasked with raising funds for the organization. To do this, I decided to sell cold Gatorade, banana chips, Oreos, and chips at school during lunch hours. This involved purchasing the items in bulk, setting up a table and signage in a strategic location at school, and managing the sales process.


This experience taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and business. I had to think creatively about how to attract customers and how to set prices that would be fair and competitive, also thinking and tracking profit margins, and analyzing what sold and didn’t. I also gained valuable experience in managing finances and inventory, as I had to keep track of our expenses and make sure we had enough stock to meet demand.


In addition to the skills I developed, this CAS activity also allowed me to make a positive contribution to my community. The funds we raised will be used to support the BPA and its activities, such as its grants project. This is a worthwhile cause that I am proud to be a part of.

Overall, this was a rewarding and challenging experience that allowed me to develop important skills and make a meaningful contribution to my community.


Learning outcomes: Service, Collaboration, Creativity



During my internship at the Turkish opposition political party "IYI Parti" Izmir headquarters, I was able to gain valuable insight into the daily operations of a political party. I shadowed IYI Parti Izmir party politicians and learned about the various processes and procedures involved in running a political party. This included attending constituency meetings and observing how party members address the concerns and grievances of the public.


I also had the opportunity to conduct research on a variety of topics related to the local economy and social issues. This included studying rates of female participation in Izmir's economy, examining the gender pay gap, and exploring potential solutions to agricultural development and increasing agricultural output in a socially and economically responsible manner.


Through this internship, I gained a deeper understanding of the inner workings of a political party and the challenges and opportunities involved in addressing important issues facing the community. I also developed my research and analytical skills, as well as my ability to communicate complex ideas in a clear and concise manner. Overall, this was a valuable learning experience that has helped me to grow as an individual and has sparked my interest in perhaps pursuing a career in politics.

Learning Outcomes: Challenge and Skills, Strength and Growth.

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The process of cooking Panceta ribs in the oven alongside a barbecue sauce, sweet potato fries, and potato fries was a fun and rewarding experience. I started by preparing the ingredients, including marinating the ribs in a mixture of barbecue sauce, garlic, and spices. I then preheated the oven and placed the ribs on a baking sheet, basting them with additional sauce as they cooked.

While the ribs were in the oven, I prepared the sweet potato and regular potato fries, slicing the potatoes and tossing them in a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper. I then spread the fries on a separate baking sheet and placed them in the oven to cook.

Once the ribs and fries were cooked to perfection, I plated them and served them to my family. The ribs were tender and flavorful, and the sweet potato and regular potato fries were crispy and delicious. My family enjoyed the meal and complimented me on my cooking skills.

This experience taught me the importance of following a recipe and paying attention to the details in order to achieve the best results. It also taught me the value of sharing a meal with loved ones and the joy that comes from cooking for others. Overall, this was a fun and rewarding experience that has sparked my interest in experimenting with new recipes and continuing to improve my cooking skills.

Learning outcome: Service, Creativity

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