Sometimes it takes a single decision to change the course of your life. Often times, it just takes one person to help us make that decision. This was the case for Marco Torres and Oscar Carino, Banana Kelly High School students who never imagined they’d spend their Saturdays doing service to uplift their community in the Bronx. Both students, members of our Youth Engagement Zone, went from apathetic to active. And both were selected to go overseas and help build a school with buildOn – an adventure they’ll never forget. Read in their own words how they paid it forward.
Oscar Carino, senior at Banana Kelly High School
I’ve been in buildOn for the last two years. My friend Erika Espinal, a graduate from Banana Kelly High School, invited me to a Saturday service project. At first I was indecisive whether to go or not. At the last minute, I went with my friend. I found out more about the program after going to buildOn meetings, and I found it inspiring how buildOn helped me throughout certain times of my life.
I had the opportunity to build a school in Malawi. The experience changed my perspective on education and made me appreciate the small things I have at home. When I returned from my trip to Malawi, I wanted to encourage others to join buildOn. I talked to Marco and did the same thing Erika did with me: I invited him to attend a Saturday Service. He enjoyed it and got involved. Later on, I told him about my experience in Malawi. He was scared and confused about whether or not to go. I explained the process and experiences that I had when I went to Africa. He ended up going to Haiti. When he came back, he told me about all of his adventures and how he was thankful for everything he had and for what he learned during his trip.
I like buildOn because it opens up doors to experiences that people will never forget.
Marco Torres, sophomore at Banana Kelly High School
I got involved in buildOn because of my friend Oscar. He asked me to go to buildOn’s “Saturday Service,” to give it a chance, and I decided to go. I was surprise that I enjoyed it and I decided to attend more service days.
I’ve enjoyed going to Part of the Solution‘s Soup Kitchen (POTS). POTS is a place where homeless families and people can eat a hot meal. I enjoy going because I see that the people we help are grateful for what us teenagers are doing in the community.
I went to Haiti this year in February. The experience was life changing. It made me grateful for everything that I have, and how fortunate I am to be living the life I’m living now.
buildOn’s Afterschool Programs engage youth in community and global education, service and building schools. Our students have contributed over 1,044,000 hours of service, and 94 percent of them graduate from high school and go on to college. Learn more about our Afterschool Programs here.