I am so very proud of Andrea Francisco, a recent Indian Hill High School graduate who has been interning with me this school year; and I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know her and all of her abilities. She is no doubt going to be going on to great things. Before then she took a few minutes to share how the experience has helped her grow.
written by Andrea Francisco
Over the past year, I have learned some important lessons on life that I want to share with you all. From my experience writing at Good Things Going Around to having a blast finishing my fourteenth year at the Indian Hill, I have had a wonderful year, perhaps my best yet, with many lessons learned along the way.
Being Grateful and the Importance of Giving Back
In the past, I always took all of my blessings for granted, and never fully appreciated the scope of how lucky I am. I live in a free country, go to an excellent school, and have little hardships compared to others. However, this does not mean that I should sit back and relax: because I have been given so much, I believe that I should give back even more. This sounded overwhelming to me at first, but I am now convinced that this is the meaning of life: to lift up and help others. Also, I am inspired by this quote from the French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “When you give yourself, you receive more than you give.” In other words, when you give back to others even a little bit, the joy you have inspired in them will be reflected back to you, and you will have more joy than what you started out with.
Being Joyful and Sharing With Others
The power of sharing stories and experiences with others is that it is incredibly moving; just think about the countless lives that are touched everyday by the stories in Good Things Going Around alone. Without sharing, we would be unable to connect with each other, particularly strangers whom we might be tempted to judge, in meaningful ways. Sharing improves trust and understanding between different and sometimes conflicting groups or individuals. Furthermore, I have learned that it is important to be joyful in sharing, as that joy can touch the lives of others in ways I can’t imagine. I have found that the saying “Be the change you want to see in the world” is really true, because when I am more joyful the people around me tend to be the same. For instance, I notice that when I smile around others they tend to smile back also. It’s incredibly empowering to think that if I choose so, I can influence the people around me to be joyful if I show joyfulness myself.
Balancing Life and Prioritizing
The art of balancing life is an important lesson that I have learned this year, as it is the first year in my young adult life I have felt truly balanced. Some years I would be lazier and procrastinate, while other years I would spend too much time studying and working. However, this year I have found a happy medium between the work-life balance, and part of this is because I learned to spend more time working on the things that make me more happy and fulfilled. Yes, school and work are important, and you should work hard, but always remember to find time to do the things that make you happy. In my case this includes helping others, exercising, writing, making art, cooking, and spending time with friends.
People are Truly Amazing
I am actually shocked at how amazing people are! I never knew the world had so many talented, happy, and strong people, especially in the greater Cincinnati area, previous to starting my internship at Good Things Going Around. The ReelAbilities Film festival was definitely the pinnacle of the newfound amazement I have for people with disabilities. Watching the different film trailers made me laugh and cry, and allowed me to connect with people that have disabilities in ways I never imagined. I saw the film called “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”, a drama film about a boy with autism, Ricky, who lives in Queens and hides in the subway with Hurricane Sandy approaching, all while his family desperately searches for him. In addition, the photography work done by Rick Guidotti in his program Positive Exposure, which exposed the true beauty of those with genetic, physical, and behavioral differences, such as albinism or autism, was a real eye-opener. I don’t know a lot of people with these kinds of differences personally, so being able to see how beautiful they are in reality rather than how society tells us to think of them is really enlightening. It’s made me really realize that just because someone looks or acts different from most people does not make them inadequate or inferior, as society might lead us to think. I once heard a quote about autism from Paul Collins saying, “Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg.” I think this can also apply to anyone that is different in some way. It teaches society that we need to stop trying to mold everyone into perfect round pegs, and instead let people be as they are, imperfect, but still striving to do their best, which is all that matters.
Written by Good Things Going Around intern, Indian Hill High School student Andrea Francisco
When I give back, it makes me realize how even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference. Even just a smile or simply telling someone to “Have an awesome day” can cause such a positive effect on the world. One of the best things about giving back, such volunteering as a Vacation Bible School Guide, is that you get to meet so many people that would otherwise be strangers to you. Just having a positive conversation with someone you don’t know very well can uplift both people and turn their days around.
I believe that giving back is truly a chain reaction, like in Rachel’s Challenge, whose representatives came to our school a few years ago. Rachel, who was sadly killed in the Columbine School shootings of 1999, inspired the world with her acts of kindness and belief in the “chain reaction”. Rachel wrote before she died, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go”. In my life, I sometimes struggle with this concept, conversely thinking that I must do something big in order for it to have any lasting effect. However, Rachel reminds me that this is not true, because even a small act of kindness will make a huge difference, as this act may inspire countless of other acts of kindness.
When I really put my full heart into volunteering and helping others, I realize how easy it is for me to positively influence others and give them confidence. It warms my heart when I see the little kids in my Vacation Bible School group following my lead by having fun dancing during worship time and playing the fun games. They really look up to you as someone to trust and respect — even if I am just an ordinary person. When giving back, I am amazed at how treating others with respect, kindness, and enthusiasm can change their mood and make their day.
written by Good Things Going Around intern, Andrea Francisco, a senior at Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati
On the night of Monday the 17th, the Indian Hill Cheerleaders organized a “Layup for Lauren” event, in which each participant attempted a layup and donated to The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Layup for Lauren was started by Lauren Hill, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last November. Even through her battle against brain cancer, Lauren continues her passion of playing basketball. She currently attends Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a member of the basketball team. Lauren is a true hero for all Americans and everyone battling cancer as a spokesperson and advocate for The Cure Starts Now Foundation. Only year later from realizing that she has brain cancer, Lauren was playing a game at the Xavier Cintas Center in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,250. Her bravery and determination is incredible; she inspires everyone around her to keep going no matter what life gives you.
In basketball, a layup is basically a shot, where a player tries to shoot the ball into the hoop. In Layup for Lauren, there is an extra challenge, however: you must shoot with your non-dominant hand, one eye closed, and spin in circles five times. This is how Lauren feels from battling brain cancer; her medications cause negative side-effects in addition to the cancer that have weakened her right side. If you don’t make the layup, you must donate $10. I missed — my basketball skills are not exactly stellar. That’s okay though, because I ended up donating for a life-changing foundation that supports brain cancer research. All of the proceeds from this event go toward The Cure Starts Now Foundation, which focuses on cancer research to find a cure.
To donate and see how you can take the #LayupforLauren Challenge, please visit this website: http://layup4lauren.org/
Written by: Good Things Going Around Intern, Andrea Francisco, a student at Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati
Price Hill’s MyCincinnati Orchestra program helps students in grades K-12 express themselves while boosting their confidence in a supportive group. Founded in 2011 by Laura Jekel, it serves as a totally engaging (and completely free!) program for kids. However, students must commit to coming every day of the program, which runs from Monday through Friday from 4-6 P.M. This is because the more time put into practicing an instrument, the better they will get at playing and the more their confidence will grow. Furthermore, this instills a strong sense of dedication and effort into the developing minds of children, something that will help them throughout the rest of their lives. Through a transformative and immersive program of learning and teamwork, students enrolled in the MyCincinnati Orchestra program will learn a set of life-changing skills — something that is truly priceless.
Laura Jekel, who is also the director and teaches some days, has an amazing background in music, along with the rest of the teachers involved in MyCincinnati Orchestra. Laura has a bachelor degree of music from Indiana University at Bloomington and completed her master of music degree at Carnegie Mellon University and the Peabody Institute. Along with this, she lived in Ecuador, where she was a member of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil and cello professor at the music school Fronteras Musicales Abiertas in Cuenca. There is a much longer list of all the things she has accomplished — so much that it is hard to fit in this paragraph! In addition, Eddy Kwon, the assistant program director, is a Cincinnatus Presidential Full Scholar with a BM in Jazz Studies from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Also, He has been involved in many El-Sistema inspired programs in the US. To clarify, El-Sistema, Venezuela’s revolutionary youth orchestra program for social change, is the inspiration for MyCincinnati Orchestra. These are just two examples of the staff at MyCincinnati Orchestra, all of whom share an extensive background in music and dedicate their lives to bringing about social change through music.
Laura says that she has witnessed the benefit young minds garner through playing instrumental music. “I have noticed an increase in the children’s ability to focus. They are also gaining self-confidence. I believe music is empowering them to believe in themselves, and giving them a sense of identity. Learning an instrument also builds many life skills such as discipline, responsibility, and working towards long-term goals.” Learning how to play instruments requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and passion which translates to every aspect of a child’s life. This instrument learning program is especially vital to children who are not engaged in school and want to find something they love to do. Also, learning an instrument provides an outlet for children to express themselves, develop lifelong skills, and learn how to love learning. In fact, many studies show that music can help children better understand patterns when learning math. Not only this, but learning how to play an instrument can help kids with their physical coordination and emotional self-esteem. On top of this, group instrumental classes will help children find a welcoming group of friends to belong to, like a home away from home.
To learn more, please contact Laura at email@example.com or 513-251-3800 x 106
Andrea Francisco lives in Cincinnati and is a soon-to-be-senior at Indian Hill High School. She will also be interning with me this fall to share her thoughts through my blog. I will have more information about her later, but for now she is sharing her wonderful experience as an exchange student this summer traveling to Taiwan.
By Andrea Francisco
I have to admit, before heading with Carly to the MRT train station that would take me to her boarding school, I was a little nervous. Her high school, named Shuang-Xi, was to host me along with Claire, another American girl from our exchange group, for three consecutive days. Temporarily, Claire and I would have no contact with other Americans, and it would be as if we were Taiwanese ourselves living our daily lives. Actually, Claire is ethnically Taiwanese as her parents are both from Taiwan, but culturally she is just like any other American teenager. Throughout the three days, Claire and I greatly bonded as the only fully-speaking English people and became good friends. We also made friends with countless Taiwanese students, who were always excited to see us and ask us how American life is. One of my favorite things we did together was at our farewell barbeque, where we slow-roasted everything from chicken to tofu in barbeque sauce. Overall, it was truly amazing to see how beautifully our cultures could mesh, and I am excited to find out more ways to exchange our cultures.
All in all, Shuang-Xi high school has taught me so much about the lives of teens just like me who happen to live halfway around the world. I am very impressed with how kind and friendly everybody is there. As one of the four students lucky enough to go to boarding school with their host buddy, I was unsure of how the next three days would look like. However, after spending only a few days at this school, I had made many new friends that touched me and made me think differently about the world. Furthermore, there are many differences between my high school in America and my host school in Taiwan. For example, at Shuang-Xi students stay in the same room with the same group of kids all day, while different teachers rotate to teach classes in their room. This highly contrasts with my school in America, because we are always in a frenzy to scramble to our next class in only five minutes, which we have to repeat for seven bells. In addition, I want to let my host buddies and host school know that I am so grateful for their friendliness and enthusiasm towards me. Hopefully in the future you all can come to my school and I will show you what life in an American school is like.