*Click on the icon for each type of volunteer work for more information.
Language and Intercultural Volunteer Work
Emory Conversation Partners Program
Participated in a volunteer program that pairs visiting Tibetan monastics and international students with students. I met regularly with my two conversation partners to help them practice their English in a judgement-free, relaxed environment while also answering their questions about Emory and helping them assimilate culturally to their new lives in the Unites States.
The program was organized in partnership with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative and the Emory International Student and Scholar Services Office.
U.S. Cultural Ambassador and Virtual Peer
Through both Department of State study abroad opportunities that I took place in (see NSLI-Y under the Accolades section for more) I proudly represent the United States and teach about my life here in addition to sharing more about my culture with foreigners through presentation, speeches, and building meaningful relationships with locals while abroad by emphasizing people-to-people diplomacy.
For the 2020-21 academic year I served as a Virtual Ambassador for the FLEX and YES abroad State Dept. programs where I regularly communicated virtually with foreign students who received full scholarships to travel to and learn more about the US. I organized meetings, executed virtual cultural events, and gave presentations and other learning resources to teach about various topics from my life in the US to US culture and government operations.
Teaching English at the University of Córdoba
Summer and Fall 2020 I volunteered with the international nonprofit, Children Beyond Our Borders. There were two volunteer programs I frequented throughout this time; please see the Bound for Peace Program located under Teaching and Education Related Volunteer Work for more information on my experience teaching English to Columbian students. Children Beyond Our Borders has an established relationship with the University of Córdoba in Montería, Colombia. I volunteered as a facilitator to help run classes with college students where we discussed controversial issues and cultural differences and perspectives in both Colombia and the United States. This way we were able to create and foster an intercultural dialogue with the students to help them discuss a wider variety of appropriate topics in English in addition to teaching them more about the US as I learned more about Colombia.
*Some faces are blurred out respect for the privacy of some of the minors presented in the photo*
Interpreting Spanish School Conferences
In Fall of my Senior year of high school after reaching a high proficiency in Spanish, I became a welcome center trained school conference interpreter. After being properly trained and prepped, I visited several schools in my county to help interpret school conferences for Spanish-speaking parents who lack the ability to comfortably communicate with their children’s teachers as a way to eliminate the communication barriers present in school conference situations. This also helps take any potential burdens off of the students who might typically be forced to interpret for their parents. As a neutral party in the conference environment, I was able to see the impact of my volunteer work first hand as parents thanked me for being there and thanked me for thinking of a disadvantage they would otherwise struggle to work around.
Teaching English as a Second Language
I was asked to miss my fourth-block class to tutor Campbell High School ESL students two to three times weekly junior year. I was to teach them English, Math skills, and help motivate them regarding continuing their schoolwork. I completed all missed assignments from my missed classes by working diligently. The ESL class had many new immigrants lacking the English foundations to succeed alone because everyone in the class had a different proficiency level. Although my fourth-block teacher became increasingly annoyed because of my absences, I knew I was doing something meaningful with my time. After a year of tutoring, it was evident the direct impact my teaching had as the students became more invested in completing assignments and more motivated to continue learning beyond the required work..
Teaching English at the Shuangliu Public Library
When studying abroad with the State Department in Chengdu, China Summer 2019, I was able to take part in several volunteer endeavors as a way to more meaningfully connect with locals. One of those included volunteering at Shuangliu Public Library near my neighborhood. In addition to organizing and shelving books, I also played with the preschool children there and helped them learn basic English while teaching them American games. Pictured above is my teaching one of the preschoolers about Patty Cake. Following that he taught me how to play rock, paper, scissors in Chinese. This type of unique cultural exchange is one of the many reasons why I went back to the library during my time there and why I love volunteering while abroad.
Volunteering at the Shuangliu Retirement Center
In addition to teaching English at the Shuangliu Public Library (See Teaching and Education Related Volunteer Work), I also volunteered at the Shuangliu Retirement Center while in Chengdu, China. At the center, in addition to conversing and spending time with some of the elderly, my friends and I sang both English and Chinese songs to them, recited a famous Chinese poem, and practiced Chinese calligraphy with them. Pictured above is me with several of the residents at the center and some children we met who played with us as well.
Educating Youth as a Representative of the US Department of State
In November 2019, I was selected to represent the US Department of State’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs by attending a conference and teaching high performing high school students from around the United States about the endless opportunities and abroad experiences that are made possible through State Department programs and initiatives. To prepare for the conference, I not only was required to review the information about the program I am an alum of (See NSLI-Y under the Accolades section), but I also did extensive research on and learned more about many other opportunities and programs provided by the State Department as a way to best be able to represent them when teaching others.
Teaching and Education Related Volunteer Work
Teaching English to Columbian Students
Throughout Summer and Fall 2020 I volunteered for the Bound For Peace (BFP) Program through the international nonprofit, Children Beyond Our Borders. I taught various workshops to students as young as first grade up to college students from several Colombian cities including Montería and Bucaramanga. The workshops focused on health and wellness, education, sustainability, and cultural competency. The workshops were virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic inhibiting teachers to travel to Colombia for the in-person program. I taught students in a mixture of Spanish and English to ensure the materials are well understood, with the mixture changing depending on the proficiency of the class I am teaching.
Free SAT/ACT Tutoring Services for Underserved Students
After a rigorous self-study to prepare for the SAT and ACT, I recognized how to improve my score by practicing specific weaknesses and I wanted to use that knowledge to help others. I started tutoring underprivileged students for free. From learning certain testing concepts, they showed significant improvement. The most profound example is one student on my school’s basketball team who needed to increase his scores or he’d be overlooked by college scouts. After coming into school early for many days and meeting at my house for several weekends, he achieved the necessary scores and was able to receive athletic scholarship offers.
Training and Prepping New Debaters about How to Be a Successful Debater
I was responsible for analyzing packets of policies and evidence connecting to a general topic. I then would argue both sides of a prescribed argument to a tournament panel judge. Subsequently, I gained an appreciation for analyzing arguments from all angles to understand where different perspectives come from. Since sophomore year, volunteered to be the varsity member designated to teach incoming freshmen how to properly debate. As a result, my team collectively won second place in the Atlanta Urban Debate League City Championships two years in a row, and we later were able to join a national debate league.
Service Projects and Initiatives
2020 Allstate Hot Chocolate Run
(5k and 15k)
The Allstate Hot Chocolate Run is CHS Interact Club’s biggest event of the spring season. The other club executives and I go through the registration process in December/January and the event takes place in early February. We gather about 20 Interact members together to wake up before the sun and head downtown to Centennial Olympic Park to begin volunteering at 5:30 AM by preparing for the 5k/15k by setting up some of the booths, aiding the Allstate Race employees in any way possible, and then taking our positions as volunteers at our respective stations for the entirety of the race which lasts the majority of the day. We pass out waters, hand out medals to the runners, help organize the runner’s gear while the participants are running, and, of course, distributing gallons upon gallons of hot chocolate. The event helps raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses worldwide.
Interact Club's Shop With a Spartan 2019
Shop With a Spartan is the most important event of the fall for CHS Interact Club. Shop with a Spartan is where high school students are paired up with underprivileged students at a nearby Smyrna Elementary School and are taken to Walmart to buy some necessities and gifts for themselves and their families to enjoy during the holiday season. Since we fundraised successfully in 2019, each student was able to have a budget of $100 instead of the prior year’s $60 budget. In addition to this, we were even able to shop for six students who were unable to attend the event to further spread holiday joy. We plan the entire day for the students and scheduled two buses to transport us to and from the school and Walmart. We also hand out care packages to them and have fun with them as we shop.
*Some faces are blurred out respect for the privacy of some of the minors presented in the photo*
Stockings for Underprivileged Elementary Students
As President of Interact Club, I worked diligently with the other club leaders to improve this year’s Shop With a Spartan event. In 2019, we were able to prepare stockings filled with some necessities like socks and hygiene products in addition to some toys and candy. The necessities in the stockings allowed for the students to not have to purchase as many necessities at Walmart so they can use more of their budget to purchase nicer clothing, other necessities, and even gifts. We also prepared snack and breakfast sacks for the day of filled with Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits, various snacks, water, and juice. The stockings and the snack packs were all additions that we were able to provide this year due to the increase in fundraising initiatives.
Willy’s Shop With a Spartan Fundraiser
One of the fundraisers I planned as President of Interact Club for our annual Shop with a Spartan event was a fundraising night at the Willy’s near our high school. This was a way to accumulate more funds to help expand the event and be able to provide some necessities for the students so that the majority of their budget is not consumed by simply purchasing only necessities which was a problem we found last year. Please visit the Shop With a Spartan Tiles on this page for more information on the event.
Blessings in a Backpack
Since many students are required to take food home in December for them and their families because of food insecurity issues, CHS Interact came together to decorate large paper bags with kind notes and messages to the students to keep them in high spirits during the holiday season. This helped those affected students feel more comfortable about their situations and allow them to more happily collect their meals to take home for over Winter Break.
Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit Fundraiser with SGA
The beginning stages of such a big event like Shop With a Spartan consist of fundraising. I planned two major fundraisers to prepare for the event. For one of them, we teamed up with CHS Student Government to sell Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits each Wednesday morning in October during the class transition. This fundraiser was planned as a way to expand upon Shop with a Spartan to give back even more than last year.
2019 Allstate Hot Chocolate Run
(5k and 15k)
The 2018-19 school year I was elected as the Secretary for the Interact Club at my high school, a service organization that is connected with Rotary International, an international service organization. As one of the leaders, we investigated and for the first time was able to participate in the Allstate Hot Chocolate Run, which has since become the biggest spring event for CHS Interact Club. We had about 15 Interact members participate this first year. We arrived at Centennial Olympic Park to begin volunteering at 5:30 AM by preparing for the 5k/15k by setting up some of the booths, aiding the Allstate Race employees in any way possible, and then taking our positions as volunteers at our respective stations for the entirety of the race. We pass out waters, hand out medals to the runners, and help organize the runner’s gear while the participants are running. The event helps raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
PROM for Students with Special Needs
My school’s special needs students seldom participated in school dances and big events, so some friends and I, as part of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, decided to plan a Prom for students with special needs for several schools in our county. This way every student could feel appreciated and thought of. As one of the leaders, I began by creating committees for decorations, invitations, gift bags, and food/sponsors. After the venue was secured at Truist Park, we were able to work out logistics like organizing a sensory room and standby professional for students who might potentially be overwhelmed by the social interaction. We had a red carpet and lines of people cheering as students entered. It was truly heartwarming to see the impact we had from their smiles.
Eagle Scout Project:
Building an Outdoor Classroom for an Atlanta Inner-city School
To achieve the Eagle Rank, a scout must complete a service project showing extensive leadership and benefiting their community. I met with my middle school principal and asked what was the school that had the most need and quickly found a starting place. After several meetings with the principal of St. Peter Claver, we decided I would build them an outdoor classroom consisting of a cemented wooden platform, six sturdy outdoor benches, an outdoor podium, and display table. To fundraise, I handmade knitted and crocheted scarves and marketed to customers in Atlanta to sell them. I donated 100% of the revenue from the sales. After fundraising, I went through an extensive research and blueprinting process to design all of the components of the project including extremely sturdy outdoor benches, an outdoor podium, and the platform design. After drawing up the prints and gathering all the materials, I created resource sheets and a step-by-step guide to constructing each component. Then, I gathered an initial group of volunteers whom I led in constructing each component using the resource guide I created as well as demonstrating the steps live. Next, I transported the constructed pieces to the school and gathered another group of volunteers for the installation day. We measured and marked the terrain, dug stake holes and cemented in place the platform support beams and exoskeleton, filled the platform with mulch, and installed all the previously constructed components.
Miscellaneous Volunteer Endeavors
Campbell Community Pancake Breakfast
As a former officer of CHS’s Campbell Fellowship Club, one of the events the club leaders and I helped plan was our annual Campbell Community Pancake Breakfast. We used raised funds to purchase supplies to make pancakes and provide a topping bar. The volunteers and I arrive early to school to set up and start cooking. As Campbell Students arrive at school we greet them and offer the free hot breakfast to spread some joy and try to make the start of everyone’s day a little brighter. This is one of several random acts of kindness themed service events the club leaders and I planned throughout high school.
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© 2022 Lucas San Miguel