By Anika Kumar
A couple of weeks ago, on May 2nd, freshmen took part in the annual Vox Summit hosted by the head of Byram Hills’ Foreign Language Department, Ms. Stahl. The Summit consisted of a captivating keynote address in which students like myself had the opportunity to share stories of times that we did service abroad, with the hope of inspiring others to become global citizens. Many students like myself traveled abroad and performed manual labor, such as building houses.
Following the keynote address, students were assigned to different breakout groups where they explored one specific organization that helped others, such as Bridges to Communities in Nicaragua and Neighbor’s Link in Mount Kisco. Overall, the Vox Summit’s main purpose was not only to inspire the 9th graders to do service in another country or in our very own community but to provide resources that will help them on their journey to become global citizens.
Myself, along with many of my peers including Isabelle Seelig, Sam Aberman, Nina Dekker, Nicolas Rios, and Skyler Healy, were able to speak and answer questions about our experiences. We were interviewed by Mr. Andriello who asked questions ranging from how we got involved with the organizations we did service with to what we did on a day-to-day basis while on our trips. In my case, I talked about volunteering at a hospital and meeting kids in Africa.
Additionally, we talked about how these trips impacted our lives and shared some of our favorite memories from our trips. Freshman Maddie Endico states, “The panel of students was very interesting and really captured my attention. It was very inspiring to see kids just like us making a difference and I think it will lead to an increase of kids performing service.” Not only did the panel discuss service trips abroad, but we talked a lot about how you can make a difference right here in our community with programs like Neighbors Link.
Later in the program, the students were divided into classes where important issues and services were discussed. One group explored the Syrian Refugee Crisis through an impactful simulation. These breakout classes were led by students, professionals, and passionate role models who wanted to inspire students to get involved. Freshman Lizzie Manowitz explains, “I thought the summit as a whole was very interesting. I really liked learning about Neighbors Link because it showed how much of a difference you can make in your own community.”
Overall, the Vox Summit was an engaging way for freshman to develop a better understanding of the difference they can make, either locally or internationally. This year, Mrs. Stahl and other organizers of the summit decided to do the panel of students instead of one keynote address. It was a success, and I’m sure this will be a new tradition for the Vox Summit. Mrs. Stahl, when asked about her hopes for the summit and its impact, said, “We hope the kids are inspired to want to engage in making positive change and feel confident they can. Small changes can lead to big change, and we want students to know that they can use their voice and have an influence. You’re never too young to start making positive change.”