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School Garden in Jamul

Discussing where to start today.

Over the Summer of 2010 I worked with my aunt Cass to construct a lowered garden at the Jamul Elementary School. The design of the garden was that of the Japanese rising sun. My aunt asked me to organize others to help with garden which I accepted. The five days over Summer I worked were days of heat and hard labor but completely worth the time and effort. I learned to use a drill in  refining the design of the rising sun. To create the border, I needed to measure the length and angles of the sun’s rays.

Drilling old plastic from the plastic fences burned in the Cedar Fire to create the borde of the garden.

My favorite aspect of the garden is the use of the recycled plastic border which my uncle salvaged after the cedar fire. To cut the plastic after measurements I learned to use the blade saw and to control the angle that the saw cut at. Another important feature of the garden is that the depressed areas where the plants will grow allow for more shade during summer and for more rainwater capture and retention.

After many days of labor we were very proud of completing the outline

Soon, after IB testing, I will return to work on the garden and hope to finish it before summer.

Special Olympics

A shirt given to all the athlete "buddies".

In March of 2010, Steve Martin and I volunteered at the Kiwanis Club Special Olympics at West Hills. We went the Key Club. Our athlete was one of the most energetic of people I had ever met. At the time he was 22 but had the energy of a child and an infectious positive attitude. His constant requirement of high fives made it impossible to not be stoked. Attending and being involved with the Special Olympics from the perspective of Steve and me gave me an altered perception of what it means to be retarded or handicapped. Jack was always willing to give a hug and sometimes demanded one if he had not ha one recently. The only difficult thing was keeping up with him when he would run to hug someone or entertaining him to keep him with us. It was a great experience for me.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters

A coffee mug given to me by a little that I substituted for as a Big.

My original intention when applying to be a Big at Big Brothers, Big Sisters was to have a little and work with them one on one. I later found out that because I was leaving the following year it would be unlikely to find a little because others had applied for Bigs as well who weren’t leaving the following year. I decided to stay at the first session I went to even without an assigned Little. This turned out to be the best choice because two of the Bigs were absent that day and leaving two Littles without Bigs. Niche was made; I became the substitute Big when others were absent. This was both a blessing and a difficulty. Some days I would have multiple Littles sometimes reaching four which required a great effort to involve all of them in games together. Creative mind was stretched to involve four kids in game with the resources of a ball and a wall but I would get to experience all the different kids and witness the dramas between the different kids from different perspectives. Oddly enough, Big brothers Big sisters takes the same ingenuity as working with Jack from the special Olympics. The Littles of my friend Nikk and Justin, Nathan and Mical, are two that I have become great friends with. It is a nice feeling to have these kids look up to you. I myself was the youngest in my family and was always the kid looking up to my older brother so I understand where they are coming from. It has been a fantastic experience. My only regret is not joining the program earlier in my high school career.

World Fair

White Cocoons on Cactus used for dying Wool.

At the World Fair, I worked with my friends Steve and Kym with teaching kids a cultural aspect of Peru. As seen above, a cactus is covered with cocoons, these cocoons, when crushed produce a red liquid that is used in Peru for dying. This red dye is then boiled with yarn and then woven into either clothing or blankets.

Pictures of children from Peru weaving the wool.

We then used the above book to demonstrate to the kids how the dyes were used. The pictures used were from a trip to Peru that I took during the Spring break of 2010. In the book was a picture of a girl crushing up the same cocoons as the ones we brought for demonstration which the kids could then crush if they wished.

Me Attempting to teach a 5 year old how to weave.

Even though we did not have hemp the color of red we still wanted to give the kids something to take home. My brother had taught me to weave hemp bracelets and so we purchased some hemp and used it to show the kids what he had taught me. When dealing with kindergartners it is best not to give very many instructions which the weave required. However, the feeling of accomplishment when either a determined kindergartner or an older kid came around and took the time to learn was worth the many, many failures. My experience at Bigs certainly made working the World Fair much easier, especially for my tactics when explaining to the kids.

Surf Team

One Thursday Practice at Mission Beach

I first attempted surfing at the age of eleven. It was introduced to me by my brother during a vacation at a beach house. I honestly did not enjoy the sport, it was cold, I wore this uncomfortable that just slowed the process of getting cold, and I couldn’t catch real waves only the white wash. Looking back I understand that I was learning to surf the wrong way; instead of seeing what others did and attempting to that, I should have sought enjoyment in surfing as a whole, rather than just the idea of being as good as someone else. Only recently have I begun to understand look for the quality in my own surfing where as before I would see the quality in others and attempt to recreate it. Surfing has become the best example of integrating lessons learned at school into the rest of  my life. Beginning last began my first desire to compete in contests on the surf team (during Freshman and Sophomore I was still learning to ride), with this grew the desire to become a better surf. I began seeking to improve by the method earlier, watching Vito or Brandon, the two better surfers on the team. I only set myself to fail because I would be aggravated when I could not surf as well as them. My next tactic was to just surf as much as possible and through sheer perseverance become better, which resulted in erratic progress; some days I would surf my best and leave the beach with confidence, others, I drove home feeling as though my gas was wasted. Only recently, after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, did I begin to focus on my own style of surfing and where to improve. The book discusses the idea of quality in one’s life and caused me to rethink the quality of my own life and through that my surfing. Finding quality in my surfing brought me to look for my weaknesses and to find greater understanding of the waves. Though surfing is to be a great portion of my action hours, I fully believe it is part of creativity. Learning to ride the waves take great creativity, feeling the waves through the board and interpreting that to decide what is the next move that prolongs my ride on the wave brings requires a creative mind because no wave is the same. My surfing skills have greatly improved over the past few years and even more accelerated rate this year. This is a link to the channel 10 news broadcast that covers our team. In it my coach and our number one short-boarder, Vito, is interviewed. To my surprise I also landed some coverage at Scripps and got a fantastic left. (http://www.ghhssurf.com/Gallery.html). Also, this is a picture of my most improved trophy for the team. Recently, I received news that I made 2nd for our schools surf team.

Most Improved Award for this year.

Water testing and the Coastal Keepers

Water testing at Old Mission Trail Dam

The Water Testing was a fantastic experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it because, as a surfer, the quality of water entering the ocean directly affects my experience. Out of the three times I have gone.  This required much work with others. The groups I went out with were a three person group each taking on three different jobs–recording, clean hands, and dirty hands. At the training, each group member tried each different job at a local fountain. The name recorder explains the methods purpose of the job, recording all the readings from the thermometer, ion tester, etc… Clean hands the simple yet difficult job of maintaining clean hands throughout the process. Clean hands touches the actual bottles that test water is carried in. Dirty hands gets to do everything else and I was lucky enough to get landed with this job all three times. My job entailed using all the equipment so clean hands could remain clean. Half of the job when collecting the water samples for lab testing is finding the best way to get the samples. At the Mission Valley location I had to crawl on a skinny piece of concrete down close enough to reach the water. Beyond risking falling into disgusting, rushing water I learned to use and read an ion tester record  as well as accurately record data and the method for maintaining uncontaminated test material. The most interesting part was being able to look at the results of the data that I had collected and understanding what the cause of the pollution.. (Collected can be seen at the website: http://www.sdwatersheds.org/wiki/SDG-020). Apart from the Water testing, I worked at coastal keepers three other times. One was 5 hours of packaging supplies for a beach clean up. This was an extremely monotonous job but was indeed worth the effort when looking at the big picture.  Another time was spent working at the office of the non-profit helping any way I could and by searching through the beach clean up reports that are used for statistical analysis on the condition of San Diego’s beaches. Coastal keepers is a non-profit with the purpose to alert the state government to the pollution of San Diego’s many water sheds. If the state fails to act, the non-profit has a tea a lawyers dedicated to forcing the state into action. The other time I worked for the coastal keepers I searched the internet for information on Low Impact Development. The page I found information for can be found on http://www.sdwatersheds.org/wiki/LID .