By Amishi Desai
My commitment is providing care to children whose parents have cancer. I was deeply inspired by Camp Kesem, an organization that provides weeklong camp-like activities for children whose parents have cancer. Often, these children are neglected because their parents are going through much stress. I am also interested in promoting literacy among the youth. Thus, my commitment to read to children in the waiting rooms while their parents are in the hospitals came about. In the past, I competed my Girl Scouts Gold Award on a similar topic, promoting literacy to underserved Latino populations in North Carolina. Thus, I decided to create No Wait Smiles to help children not feel neglected and overall help their mental wellbeing to make them feel important during this tough process. I’m taking steps to contact different hospitals, recruit volunteers and start explaining to people what my project is about, and what inspired it. Some hanging questions I still have are which population am I going to reach, what activities will I complete with them that fits in a hospital setting, which books I’ll read to them, and if I can create a mini library for the waiting room.
The journey there: me and my CGI U roommate, Sophia Lin, were traveling together starting our day at 8am. The day after a snow storm is always hectic but due to the icy roads, the 8am flight was pushed back 2 hours, and we missed our connecting in LGA and were on 2 standby flights but finally made it to Miami at 7pm! I had a really insightful conversation with a University of Michigan medical student who started monitoring patients in Sri Lanka through data collection and online tools; it was really neat to see how she tracked the students. It got me thinking about how I can help students through technology. A speaker that stood out to me was Chelsea Clinton. She was very eloquent in her speaking and the points she brought up were very relevant to women. She seemed to be very jovial and relatable even though she is a Clinton. She seemed down to earth. I met some awesome people who’re very deeply connected to a certain area they want to serve, which helped me feel closer to everyone who attended. There were people from all over the nation and we were all here for the same reason which was very empowering. I loved the networking opportunity especially the poster showcase at the end. It was a great experience in terms of the venue, speakers and students I’ve met. I even learned about things outside my realm of interest such as finances and learned about different apps to help with financial literacy, for instance. I got contact information for many people and hope to see them again/connect and learn more about each other’s commitments/ support them too.