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Many teenagers can’t go to school. They can’t volunteer at their local food bank or help out at the pet shelter around the block. As many teenagers find themselves bored at home, many people have discovered a new way to get involved: virtual volunteering.
While virtual volunteering has been around for a while, many people haven’t taken the opportunity to take advantage of it. Virtual volunteering has recently become a prominent way of giving back to your community due to the coronavirus pandemic, whether it impacts the life of a lonely senior or helps a child who is falling behind in schoolwork.
For the summer of 2020, I told myself that it was going to be the “Summer of Service”. I was going to reach out, make a difference in my community and help everyone make the world a better place. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic hit and I found myself looking for new ways to give back to the community.
I found many ways to volunteer virtually. Even though I was stuck at home, I soon discovered that I could help out my local community. Through my local volunteer center, I discovered that I could make digital cards via Canva for seniors. The cards would be printed out and distributed to people living across my county. This volunteer opportunity helped me realize my passion for designing. Previously, I had always thought of myself as an awful designer, but I discovered that Canva allowed me to create beautiful, yet simple designs that didn’t blind everyone.
Note: The following websites are not sponsored by Teenagers With Experience. I volunteered with Zooniverse and the Kids Circle Foundation. I found volunteering opportunities through VolunteerMatch.
Another way to find virtual volunteering opportunities is through VolunteerMatch. VolunteerMatch provides you with different volunteering opportunities. For example, in July 2020, my sister found Teenagers With Experience on VolunteerMatch. Through Teenagers With Experience, I have discovered my passion for writing and I found a great community of open-minded people.
VolunteerMatch also helped me find other non-profit organizations. For example, I found The Kids Circle Foundation. At the Kids’ Circle Foundation, I created slideshows that served as resources for struggling students. Although I left the organization in September, it was a great opportunity to serve with fellow high schoolers from across the globe.
VolunteerMatch isn’t the only way to get service hours. If you are interested in pursuing science-related fields, Zooniverse is a great way to get started. Zooniverse has many science programs, mainly focused on biology-related fields. Zooniverse also has service opportunities related to non-scientific fields, such as Criminal Characters, which explores the transcripts of Australian criminals.
With virtual volunteering, the opportunities are endless. Although some people may think that colleges look down on virtual volunteering, virtual volunteering requires different skill sets compared to in-person volunteering. Virtual volunteering can help you improve your skills, whether it's typing or writing. Virtual volunteering can also help you meet new people from across the globe. Both virtual volunteering and in-person volunteering are valuable on college applications. Volunteering reveals an applicant’s commitment and willingness to serve in their communities. In fact, virtual volunteering reveals that you are willing to serve, regardless of the hardships you have faced during the pandemic.
Do you think virtual volunteering is a great way to serve? What websites have you used to find virtual volunteering opportunities?
Let me know in the comments below!
Being Asian-American in my youth meant that you were different. One of the things that highlighted how different it was to be Asian-American was the fact that I didn’t bring a sandwich for lunch. Instead, I brought my Thermos, filled with rice, vegetables and meat. While my peers thought that I brought strange food, I thought that a sandwich was a rather mundane type of lunch. Why bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday, when you could bring different types of food everyday? My mom made all types of dishes; she cooked delicious garlic steak bites, honey glazed chicken wings, and so much more.
Bringing something different than everyone else made me wonder why I was different. I began to feel left out. For everyone, they could finish their sandwich in ten minutes and go off to play. For me, it took much longer. I’m not sure if it was because I was a slow eater or not, but I felt left out.
Besides having a different lunch, I always knew that I looked different. I remember this boy who showed everyone this trick he could do with his nose. Everyone tried to do this trick, because they thought it was cool. However, I couldn’t do it. The boy told everyone that my nose was too short to do that trick. I was devastated. Why couldn’t I look like everyone else?
As I grew older, I was able to express that I wanted to assimilate into society; I wanted to look the same, eat the same food and get treated the same. I didn’t want to feel left out, as I watched my friends eat their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and do cool nose tricks.
Now, I have a lot of friends who share the same experiences as me. It feels great to have people you can relate with. Now, my mom no longer makes lunches for me. Looking back, I realized that I should’ve been more grateful for my lunches. Now, I eat cafeteria food, just like everyone else. Does that make me feel like I belong? Not at all.
If I could travel back in time, I would’ve told my younger self to embrace my Asian culture. Being different is great. Just because everyone does something, doesn’t mean that it's the best choice. Eventually, there’s going to be a time when you won’t get delicious lunches anymore and eat boring cafeteria food.
As many students are forced to transition into distanced learning, many kids find themselves stuck behind a screen. In the United States, many schools have started the school year with remote learning, while others are starting with a hybrid of remote and in-person learning. As cases continue to rise, most schools will probably stick with distanced learning.
After my first week of distanced learning, I discovered some great tips and tricks to maximize my distanced learning experience.
When school starts, be sure to exercise and stretch your legs in between Zoom calls. Zoom burnout is real and exhaustion is never a good thing.
She was floating in a pale blue bubble, suspended in an infinite slumber. Long mahogany hair cascaded down her back, brushed to perfection. Months had passed, yet she remained in the same infinite slumber, with a peaceful expression on her face.
She had been discovered in space, floating among the debris of a spacecraft that was once owned by a snake-like king. The girl has been surrounded with thousands of deceased reptilian creatures, many with intricate armor.
No one knew what to do with the girl. She was alive, yet suspended in the seemingly infinite slumber. The bubble sat there, waiting for something to happen, waiting for something to pop it.
A black drone entered the room, landing on the fine white carpet. It began to make a humming noise, slowly vacuuming the carpet, as usual. Humans no longer did this menial task; robots were an infinite workforce. It vacuumed around the bubble, being extremely careful not to touch or prod the bubble, before flying out the door.
Then, soft music began playing. It was Mozart, the former inhabitant’s favorite kind of music. She had died twelve years ago, in a tragic accident. Just like the girl in the pale blue bubble, she had been caught in an explosion, caused by a reptilian king.
The bubble started to emit a humming noise, before starting to vibrate. It began to vibrate faster, and faster, starting to make a screeching noise. The baby blue bubble began to burst, little holes forming at first. The holes grew bigger and bigger, water beginning to flow out of the bubble. The bubble began to shrink, becoming smaller and smaller, until the pale blue skin disappeared, leaving the girl to fall onto the ground.
Her large brown eyes slowly fluttered open. She opened her mouth, trying to speak, but no sound came out. She slowly got up, before collapsing once more unto the floor. Then, the girl tried to speak once more.
“He… Hello?” The girl had a bit of a foreign accent, perhaps Suican or Xerian. She was a humanoid; a human-like alien.
“Hello. How may I be of assistance, Summer?” a friendly female voice asked.
“I… I’m not Summer,” the girl stuttered, looking around for the source of the voice. Perhaps, the voice came from the speakers on the ceiling.
“Who are you?” The female voice now seemed unwelcoming. The girl frowned.
“I don’t really know,” she said, attempting to get up once more. She looked around the room, before recognizing something familiar to her. It was a bookshelf. She walked over to the bookshelf, taking a small leather book out. It seemed like a diary of sorts. The girl examined the cover, running her fingers over the embroidered letters.
“Property of Summer Koo.” She paused for a moment. The last name, Koo, seemed a bit familiar. Why did it seem so familiar?
“Summer was a thoughtful young woman,” the female voice said, with a sigh. The girl blinked, surprised at the voice’s response.
“But isn’t summer, a season… Of Earth culture?” she questioned.
“Summer can be many things. Summer can be a season, a name, a place…” The female voice drifted off, listing what summer could be. The girl sighed and flipped through the pages, stopping at one page.
“Father says that we must leave this place. He claims that Neptune is cursed. But I refuse to leave. Leading Spy Academy is our legacy, surely we cannot abandon it!” Britta read out loud. Spy Academy seemed so familiar. The girl thought hard for a moment, and her memories flooded back, one by one.
She had been attending Spy Academy, along with her best friend, Serenity Woodbrookes. They had known each other for many years, since the age of two, equivalent to the human age of five or six. They were on this special team together, along with three other boys.
A few months after attending the school, they were assigned to complete a special task: to find the traitor among the ranks of the Xerians, a species of nearly immortal beings. During the mission, the traitor had captured the girl, along with another boy. The assistant of the traitor, had tried to attract her attention, with much desperation. The girl remembered one thing he had said to her.
“Do you want a snack, Britta?” The assistant was the same species as her best friend, being a Xerian. Then, the girl realized something. Britta was her name.
“My name is Britta!” she declared, to the female voice.
“Britta… Britta Cadwell?” the voice questioned. It seemed a tad surprised.
“Yes,” Britta said firmly. She felt more secure, now that she knew her name.
“Stranger detected, posing as deceased student of Spy Academy. Enemy detected. Initiating lockdown protocol.” The voice now seemed robotic, quite artificial. Britta looked around, alarmed. The door that was once open, suddenly slammed shut. She was confused, wondering why the voice thought she was an enemy.
“She’s not a stranger.” The door opened, revealing a pale boy with greasy hair. Britta immediately recognized him at once.
He was Kenny, a boy who had mercilessly bullied her during her time at Spy Academy. Kenny had mocked her for being an alien, from her accent to the way she moved. Britta glared at him. The boy laughed, as if it was the funniest thing in the world.
“Hi Cadwell. We all thought you were dead.” Kenny emphasized ‘dead’. Britta didn’t respond; she wasn’t good at talking back.
“Hello, Your Majesty, King of Koalas, Lord of Edginess, and Bronze Team Captain,” the robotic voice exclaimed. Kenny smiled, before turning towards Britta.
“Where are your little friends?” he asked, taunting her. Britta glared at him, before walking towards the open door. “Ha! She’s already forgotten about you.” Kenny smirked. Britta stopped in her tracks.
“We’ve known each other since we were two years old. She would never betray me,” she stated, as if it was obvious. Kenny walked up to Britta, a sleazy smile on his face.
“She replaced you,” he whispered. Britta looked at him.
“Why should I trust you?” she asked. Kenny had never been particularly trustworthy.
“Because I have proof.” The door slammed shut. Britta turned towards Kenny, who took a mysterious device out of his jeans’ pockets. He tapped the screen a few times, before showing her an image. It was a picture of Serenity and a mysterious alien, who had purple striped fur. Britta began to feel her anger bubbling up inside her. Why would her friend of forty years betray her?
“Why would Serenity replace me?” Britta asked, thinking of all of Serenity’s promises of staying best friends forever. Kenny smirked.
“Because she can move on. Unlike you. Wanna see another picture?” he asked, putting his electronic device back in his pocket. Britta stepped back, alarmed. Kenny kept walking closer to her, images of Serenity and the purple striped alien flashing on his screen.
“Stop!” A jet of water exploded out of her hands, as she tried to push Kenny away. Kenny stood there, soaking wet and shocked.
“What the heck was that for, Cadwell?” he asked. Britta cowered back, slowly stepping backwards, into a corner, like a wounded animal.
“I… I don’t know…” she whispered, her voice, quivering. Her knees gave way, making her collapse on the floor.
“What do you mean? I knew all aliens were scum. They’re just killing, merciless machines.” Kenny took out a knife. Britta braced for impact, knowing her death was imminent.
“Don’t give up yet. Neptune is the planet of the seas.” A voice spoke to her, in her head. Britta opened her eyes, and Kenny had stopped advancing, looking at the walls. The white walls were shaking, silver pipes emerging from the wall. Water burst out of the wall, making the room flood. Then, the walls exploded, and everything went black. The last thing Britta remembered, was the voice speaking to her once more.
“Remember, the blood of the water flows within you.”