Our global classroom initiative recognizes the importance of exploring, understanding, and celebrating cultures around the world. This year, students added a new, rich layer—recognizing the responsibility to help the under-served not just near our campus but also across the world. Two of our high school students organized a project that models a sense of civic responsibility as global citizens that we wanted to share in the hopes of inspiring others.
In the fall, junior Himani S. and freshman Riana S. decided to organize a clothing drive to benefit the Mother Teresa Orphanage that serves children with disabilities in India. Families at our school were quick to respond generously, sending in enough clothes to fill seven suitcases. Himani and Riana then traveled to India with their parents and personally delivered the donations and proceeded to volunteer their time.
Himani and Riana were so grateful for the support of our community. They wanted to share some photos and reflections from their trip.
Himani S. '21:
Thank you so much for your generous donations! We brought the clothes to the Mother Teresa Orphanage and some to the Uday Foundation. The Uday Foundation works to help care for underprivileged families who are in need of healthcare. Volunteering in India was truly a life-altering experience. I will never forget volunteering at the orphanage and distributing food with the Uday Foundation.
The kids at the orphanage were so playful, lively, and loving, despite their physical challenges. On our first day, we walked inside the playroom, the children were so excited to have visitors that they could barely contain themselves. Some of the children ran around, laughing, showing us their toys, shaking our hands, hugging us, greeted us with “Hello Didi (sister).” K. and S. took a particular liking to me, grabbed my hands, sat on my lap, and played games with me.
Another day during the trip, a local convent school was visiting and the Sisters gave us balloons.We blew them up and played various games like monkey in the middle and keep away. We drew on the balloons and wrote notes on the balloons.On this particular day, I taught a little girl, K, how to play a hand game. She loved it so much that she went around and played it with us and the other children for hours.
One moment that was particularly impactful for me was on our last day at the orphanage when a little girl, M, asked us what day it was. She was hoping it was Monday so we could come back on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We told her it was Thursday. She asked if we were coming on Friday. My mom told her “no honey,” but wanting to leave things on a happy note, my mom said, “We came on a plane from America especially to see you.” M. got very happy and said, “Thank you!” I was very sad when we had to leave her. They brought us so much joy and here we thought we went there to help them.
One of the days, we organized to feed 1,000 people through the Uday foundation. This experience was truly heartbreaking. We took turns passing out bananas and serving vegetable rice with lentils. It was devastating to see the children line up for food and to see people with physical ailments that made simple tasks, like walking, difficult. I made sure to give the children extra bananas and I was so upset when I had run out while there were still people waiting in line.
I can’t wait to go back. We will continue to organize drives on their behalf and we will continue volunteering with them.
Riana S. '23:
When I first saw the children at the orphanage they gave the brightest smiles and rushed over to me, taking me by the hand. The girls were so excited to show us their toys, artwork, homework, and coloring books. They were filled with so much joy despite their physical challenges and diverse backgrounds.
On my first day there, M. took my hand because she wanted to show me her drawings along with the homework she was working on, which I helped her with. As we worked, we also played games and made many jokes. Some of the other kids K., R., and S. joined us and took turns sitting on my lap. M. kept asking me to repeat my name for her. She suffers from short-term memory loss, which she is aware of, so she asked me to write down my name on a piece of paper this way she will never forget me. It was such a sweet and loving gesture so I asked M. to write down her name too. I still have the piece of paper, so that I’ll never forget her either.
I remember N., she would always give me such a big smile which made me so happy. She pointed to toys that she wanted to play with, and later we found out that she is mute. It was also difficult to see some of the more severe conditions that the other kids have but still, they were full of so much energy.
No matter how tired you got running around the room with them, you didn’t want to stop. One day I helped feed V. her lunch, Sister asked me to fill up her spoon and hand it to her so she could feed herself. My mom told me later that she is blind, and they are teaching her to be more independent. The experience itself was so humbling and each child gave us such wonderful memories. I love and miss them deeply, and I can’t wait to go back so that I can see them all again!
Our high school students are involved in many local volunteer opportunities already underway as part of the National Honor Society and Leadership Club. Instilling a sense of civic responsibility and giving back is a part of our school culture, and volunteering initiatives are driven by our student leaders. We hope the impact only continues to grow through the years—both near and far from our campus in Red Hook.