Shadi Aranki

How am I growing in my own awareness of my strengths and weaknesses?

Organization and Decision Making

My experience as the President of Charter Oak Key Club has helped me become aware of my strengths and weaknesses. First of all, when I acquired the position, it immediately became clear to me that making executive decisions was a weakness of mine. The decisions normally related to delegating work, approving events, correcting issues, inner conflicts, and how to execute certain events. However, I also realized one of my greatest strengths through the same problems I had to make my unsure decisions on. Organization proved to be a skill I had well built into myself. No matter how hectic a situation got, my organizational skills seemed to be able to pull us through with minimum damage or long term failure. As a club, we were able to keep with deadlines, and rarely experienced any repeated failures with a single issue the officer team and I learned from our experiences. Personally, as I continued to gain experience, my organizational skills only further developed, becoming far greater than ever anticipated. My weakness of decision making eventually became a strength. As I continued to build both confidence and experience, decision executive decisions became second nature.

Ms. Wilson Key Club President Letter of Recognition

What challenges have I been through?

Key Club President

One of the greatest challenges I have been through this year is taking up the position of President of the Charter Oak Key Club. With no formal training or mentoring greater than a few tips, I set out to lead the largest club on campus, a branch of the world’s largest and oldest student led service organizations. Without a doubt, the beginning of the year started out fairly hectic. With over four hundred people signing up for the Key Club during Club Rush, it became evident that Srta. Wilson’s room could not accommodate the vast quantity of people that were going to attend the first general meeting. Although it was on short notice, we were able to secure the gym, a projector, and a screen to use for the first meeting. Although it wasn’t perfect, the meeting was success and we eventually had approximately 120 paid members. Other challenges such as maintaining relationships with the division, region, and our supporting South Hills Kiwanis Club proved time consuming at first, but well worth it in the end since we became more involved in service events among all of those levels. On the note, challenges regarding the creating, organization, and execution of events proved to be a difficulty at first. Ensure that every attending member had the proper payments, paperwork, and criteria met to attend and enjoy an event quickly became a hectic business to me as an untrained President. The aspect of making executive decisions as President was also a challenge in the beginning. It was fairly difficult to make decisions and command the rest of the officer team without second guessing myself or completely avoiding making the decision in the first place. However, as time passed, and I continued to collect experience from failings and successes alike, planning and organization became second nature, and no longer as time consuming. With more experience, decision making also became far less unnerving, and ensuring the rest of the officer team was keeping up with their work became less intimidating.

In what ways have I started new challenges?

Bio Club Treasurer
One of the ways in which I have started a new challenge is taking up the position of treasurer of the new Bio Club on campus. Of course the club, being in its first full year of existence, needed some development and work. I was able to bring my past two years of experience as Key Club Treasurer to the table to ensure the Bio Club’s success in the treasury sector. I was able to bring in a few ideas on efficiently collecting club dues in an organized manner and was able to write out the deposit slips to get the club started.

In what ways have I developed new skills?

June DCM / Officer Training Conference and the 2013 Region Training Conference
Some of the best ways that I have developed some new skills are through the multiple training conferences hosted by our division and region through Key Club. At both the divisional and regional conference levels, many skills regarding leadership, organization, goal setting, and character building were taught to all of the Key Club officers and any other members who attended the seminars. Both were great experiences and prepared me, as president, greatly to lead the Charter Oak Key Club back at our school. Aside from leadership skills, we were also lectured on methods of proper communication, which encompassed both electronic and personal methods. We were given ideas, tips, and methods on how to effectively and concisely communicate ideas from person to person, person to audience, and audience to person. The methods taught covered many areas including demeanor, standpoint, word choice, attitude, attire, and much more. The conferences also provided me with new skills in goal setting. The theme of the year regarding goals was to set SMART goals (S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic, T-Timely). Basically, the significance was to set meaningful realistic goals that could be achieved in a timely manner so that results could be viewable by the end of the year at the latest for an immediate positive impact. In regards to leadership, all of the other categories discussed make up the foundation of it. To be a great leader, I learned, one has to encourage his followers and be one of them. Especially for a service club such as Key Club, it is important that the leaders work with the members on the same service projects to show dedication, perseverance, and appreciation. Overall, both the Officer Training Conference and the Region Training Conference helped me develop new skills that have been and will be useful for the rest of my future.

In what ways have I shown perseverance and commitment to my activities?

June, July, and August 626 Night Market
One of the ways I have shown my perseverance and commitment to my activities is by attending follow up events of the June 626 Night Market. At this event, the volunteers helped to create a safe and friendly environment for all of the attendees and vendors. Volunteers had such jobs as line control, vendor sign in, and as runners. As a volunteer I worked both the line control and vendor sign in jobs. After each of my shift endings, those who directed the volunteers were extremely grateful and appreciative of all the work that we had put in. This had a significant impact on me since it showed my small part came together with all of the other work the volunteers had put in to actually create a successful event that had thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors. This influenced me to come back multiple times for the July and August Night Markets to put in the work and help out again.

626 Night Market

Vacation Bible Study at St. John’s
Another example of how I’ve shown perseverance and commitment to my activities is by volunteering at the vacation bible study program at St. John’s, which spanned over five days. The volunteers were in charge of putting out snacks and keeping the children in line and interested in the material being presented to them about the Christian religion. However, I took my duties a step further. Along with Keenan Holder, I helped set up and control the sound and video for the final presentation day. Of course, the entire presentation went smoothly and correctly with only minor, if any problems. Besides that, it was a great experience working with children and understanding how they learn. Working with community leaders in the church also had a lasting impact on me. Their experience and skill in leadership made the entire event and invaluable learning experience for me.

In what ways have I worked collaboratively?

Rowland Heights Buckboard Parade
Another way I have worked collaboratively is through the Rowland Heights Buckboard Parade. At this event, it was required that all volunteers work collaboratively with one another to set up a parade for the city of Rowland Heights that was both safe and enjoyable. We were required to efficiently communicate with another in order to successfully conduct the parade through the streets. The job required us to check in all of the different parade elements and to either slow or speed up the parade according to directions given by the conductor. This required an exceptional amount of collaborative communication since the parade stretched for blocks and visual and auditory contact was often lost.

Rose Parade Float Decoration

Rose Parade Float Decoration
The Rose Parade float decoration was another event that required a great amount of collaboration with others. This is mainly due to the sheer size and elaborative design elements of each float. An incredible amount of detail and mediums are used to build and design the floats, which forced communication for more material and different people to take over certain important positions. There was also an element of danger in the float warehouse. Some volunteers were directed to climb up high on the beams stretching from float to float (as seen in the picture) to be able to add design to elevated parts of the floats. Collaborative work was necessary to ensure the safety of each person.

Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Flower Fields
This was a unique event. Rather than decorating the Rose Parade Floats, volunteers were able to help the in the process of growing the flowers that would soon be used to decorate the floats. We were able to collaborate with the students of the Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Club and learn about certain botanical techniques used to efficiently grow all of the plants used on the floats. Since the flowers were still in their early stages, the job simply required us to remove the invasive weeds. However, after that was complete, all of the volunteers were taken to the float making workshop where we were shown the metal workshop and the engineering room used to build the base of the float. It was an amazing learning experience to be able to see the not so beautiful interior of the floats rather than the normally decorated and elegant ones seen on the television on New Years Day.

Cal Poly Pomona Rose Float Flower Fields

Monthly Key Club DCM’s
The monthly Key Club DCM’s are some of the greatest examples of ways that I have worked collaboratively with others. The acronym “DCM” stands for Division Council Meeting. The point of these events is to bring together the officers of each of the 10 clubs in the division to discuss the successes of the past month and the goals of the coming month and beyond. Each club is required to present a report containing this information and then the entire division collaboratively works to plan, approve, and establish future goals and events for the members of the clubs to participate in. Each one of the DCM’s built and improved my ability to effectively communicate my ideas in a concise and efficient manner that would fully convey their interesting disposition and potential benefit to the Division as a whole.
WASC
Another way I have been able to work collaboratively is through volunteering to be a student representative at a WASC teacher meeting after school. It was an overall great experience since I was able to witness how professional teachers hold and conduct themselves during meetings regarding recognizing successful past goals, reflecting on issues that could use work, and setting future goals as well. I was also able to put in my opinion on important subjects I believed needed work at the time. The experience built upon my schema of clear and concise communication, leadership, goal setting, and conducting a meeting efficiently.

In what ways have I been engaged in issues with global importance?

The main way I have been engaged in issues with global importance is through supporting the Key Club CNH District Eliminate Project. The Eliminate Project aims to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus from the world. MNT is a disease that kills approximately 60,000 babies and significant number of women each year, after excruciating pain and convulsions. Key Club and Kiwanis International have teamed up with UNICEF to help eradicate the disease. To do so, over 100 million mothers and their future babies will have to be immunized at about a cost of $100 million. It only takes $1.80 to save a woman and her future children from MNT.
UNICEF Trick or Treat Boxes
The UNICEF Trick or Treat donation collection boxes were probable the most direct method of aiding the MNT eradication cause. The purpose of these boxes is for volunteers to carry them around during Halloween and rather than asking for candy, the volunteers would ask for a small donation after informing the person at the door that a $1.80 can save a life of a mother and her future children. The donation drive continued through the month of December and all of it was sent to UNICEF to provide immediate immunization for those in underdeveloped third world countries.
Benefit Concert
The Benefit Concert, also through Key Club, was another method of supporting the Eliminate Project. The concert featured 25 talented individuals or groups derived from one of the 10 schools in our division. Admission to the event was $10 and all proceeds went direct to the benefit of the Eliminate Project, once again to help those in danger of contracting MNT. The Benefit Concert was a great and fun event to attend that had a much bigger and meaningful goal behind it.
Region 13 Winter Formal
The Region 13 Winter Formal was another event similar to the Benefit Concert except that it was more of a formal dance and involved the entire Region. Admission was about $15 and of course, all proceeds went directly to the benefit of the Eliminate Project to help eradicate MNT from the Earth.
Region 13 Beach Clean Up
This event had reasoning behind it other than the Eliminate Project. At the Region 13 Beach Clean Up, Key Clubbers from all over the Region gathered to help clean up Santa Monica Beach. It was a great and enjoyable experience that will last in my memory. I learned a considerable amount about the pollution of Earth’s beaches and oceans and the dangers that arise from such a horrid condition. To be able to help to make a difference in a global struggle really had a great impact on me. It felt amazing to be part of a global community aimed at preserving Earth’s largest bodies of water we benefit from so much and sands we enjoy so much almost all year round.

What are the ethical or moral implications of what I’m doing and learning?

Isaiah’s Rock and Pomona Thanksgiving and Christmas Packaging and Distribution
These four events have probably had the strongest and most powerful impact on me as a human being. Having been raised with food always on the table, Thanksgiving and Christmas food and presents were a default and I really took the luxury for granted. First off, by volunteering to help with the packaging portion of these events, I was able to meet the leaders who conduct the entire project and they spoke to the volunteers about their mission statement which was to provide food and happiness for as many families in community as possible. They sacrifice so much of their own time, even on holidays just to be able to make a difference in the community. For the volunteers, the packaging involved creating thousands of packages to be given out to families close to the holiday. The days of distribution were what had the greatest impact on me. After a quick prayer in a massive circle of volunteers, the food distribution began. The amount of people waiting in line to receive food truly astonished me. I had no idea that so many families could not afford to put food on the table during the holidays. It made me ponder just how lucky my family is to be able to do so and still have some to go around. I had the chance of talking to some of the people coming to collect food. They told me stories of immigrating into America on loans and having to send money back home to support their remaining families. Others just spoke of hitting hard times whether it be being let go from work, an unforeseen accident, or just simply having to support a loved one on short notice. In short, all of the food that we had packaged, we soon got to disperse to needy families. I learned a lot about the monetary hardships that surround me and to truly be thankful for what I have.

Isaiah's Rock Christmas Distribution Isaiah's Rock Christmas Packaging

Service 5/31/2013

Charter Oak Key Club Treasurer
This year, I was elected to be the treasurer of the Charter Oak High School Key Club. My duties as treasurer ranged from preparing the budget for approval to preparing the purchase order and deposit slip forms for any sort of transaction the club might have. At first, the job as treasurer was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. This is mostly due to Key Club being wildly disorganized in the beginning of year and the change from mail to electronic member registering; however, my skill with technology made the transition smooth. Another duty I had as treasurer was to collect all the dues from all of the members. This proved to be hectic. The system for collecting dues was just as disorganized as the club and I was informed that an E-mail address would be required from each member for them to be fully registered, after I had processed about a third (about thirty) of the members. I was left with no options, I had to hunt each person down one by one and manually collect their Email addresses. However, the straining task allowed me better build my once weak communication skills. Attempting to pry the Email address out of some resistant individuals developed my ability to make people trust me. I also learned how to better communicate with multiple people more efficiently. Key Club also taught me about the business world. Learning to deal with relatively large amounts of money developed my confidence and skill with business like situations that involved monetary transactions. By the end of the year, the problems began to work themselves out as the club became more organized and better communication between officers was built. Along, with the guidance of Ms. Wilson, the Key Club advisor, the club was eventually on its way to success. In all, being able to work with a great team of officers, an amazing officer team, the Kiwanis supervisors, and the entire Key Club District 35 to provide a better experience for the Charter Oak Key Club members proved to be well worth it as I began to see our service opportunities take place and the number of members that came to help out.

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Action 5/31/2013

The activity portion of my CAS lies mostly in swimming for the Charter Oak High School Swim Team. I began the swimming on the swim team without much enthusiasm; the only reason I did the sport was to get my final semesters worth of PE credits so I could graduate high school. Without need to say, I was hardly motivated to give swim my best effort. To add to that, right before the season began; the Junior Varsity team (my team) was informed that we would be having two new coaches in replacement of two others who had left for some unknown reason. At first, skepticism swept over me as I questioned the credentials of a first year coach. However, once the season began, I realized that Coach Kim (the new coach) was actually a phenomenal instructor. For once, the team had a leader paid attention to the swimmers while they swam and encouraged us to do better and become more competitive. During the first meet of the year, I actually wanted to win for once and ended up getting first in my 50 breaststroke event. I learned two things on that day: I have the ability to compete successfully in swim, and I am pretty good at breaststroke. As the season went on, I continued to get first place which only wavered to second on some rare occasions. I was even moved up to the varsity team for my breaststroke races. Confidence continued to build within me as I progressed in swim, and it almost began to turn into cockiness, but I was put back into my place when we began to meet with schools in our league. Throughout the swim season, I also began to build sportsmanship. At times, I wouldn’t just cheer and congratulate the Charter Oak team, but the opposite team as well. By the time the league finals came around (which I had qualified for in the prelims just a few days before) I had built a great swimming skill set, and gained the confidence and sportsmanship only experience can bring around. I eventually placed 10th overall in the Sierra League finals at Mount San Antonio College; a great accomplishment for me since I had started with the slightest interest in competition for swim.

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Creative 5/31/2013

Rose Parade Float Decorating
Throughout the course of my life, I have realized that I have a very little amount of creativity flowing through my veins; a desperately low amount. When it comes to creativity, I usually compare myself to a brick… solid and boring, so as I stated before, I knew the creativity portion would be a challenge to me. The first of the creative activities I had done was the Rose Parade Float decoration project I had done with Charter Oak Key Club, and its parent Kiwanis Organization. For most of the time, most of us “volunteers” were stuck inside a giant warehouse snipping the buds of small, shriveled assorted flowers. Although the fun was limited in the beginning, later into the day, we began to actually decorate the floats! At first, I thought that the technique was to slap some glue onto an empty space on the float then sprinkle some flower leaves on the area and voilà, done! However, it was made apparent to me by the supervisor that it was not done in such a way. After having it explained to once, and then again, and again, I began to get the hang of it. Soon I felt as if I was one with the flower, the float, and glue, in a parallelogram of flowing art. By the end of the day, my confidence in my artwork on the float had reached its peak and I was sure that I had created an artistic masterpiece on my portion of the float. The disgruntled look on the supervisor’s face proved otherwise, but nonetheless, I was still proud of my artistic accomplishments for the first time in my life. In essence, the Rose Parade float decorating opportunity allowed me to experience art in a different way to be able to creatively put together a New Year’s float that will be seen by most of the nation.

Blankets of Love
The Blankets of Love project was another great creative activity that I had volunteered for, also through the Charter Oak Key Club. I was especially excited to this activity because I had basically grown up doing it almost every year in elementary school and was excited to be able to do it as a more developed individual my junior year. The blankets were each created from two blanket fabric pieces placed on top of one another. The edges were cut into inch wide strands with a slit down the middle of each. The two strands were then intertwined, connecting the large fabric pieces into one comfortable blanket. The blankets were then washed and packaged to be distributed among children with various illnesses. Looking back at my elementary school days of doing the Blankets of Love Project, it’s easy to see that I have changed and developed of the years. During my early years, I thought of the project as a fun activity that only benefited me, but when I revisited and did the activity this year, I know that the work, love, and happiness I put in to the blanket will transfer over to a child in need of warmth, love, and happiness as they go through their never ending healing process.

Service 5/31/2013

Acolyte
Over the summer before junior year, I volunteered as an acolyte at my church. The job of an acolyte can be one of three things depending on what is assigned to the team of four. In sum, the positions and jobs are: crucifer (carries the cross down the aisle), torcher (carries the candles down the aisle), or server (carries the bible down the aisle), all done to assist he pastor. The entire experience is nothing short of amazing. By participating as an acolyte, I was able to learn about the workings of church and how the service is planned, created, and carried out. It makes it possible to have a deeper connection with my religion and with God when I actually participate in the service. Rather than having to view service from the pews in a one dimensional perspective, being an acolyte opens up a whole new dimension on my religion and the church’s inner workings. I also began to learn how to operate as a well-structured team with the rest of the acolytes serving on that day. Being an acolyte for my church has opened up a whole new view point on church, Christianity, and God and has allowed me to adapt and learn to work with the other youth serving with me.

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Vacation Bible Study
Over the summer, I also volunteered at a friend’s church to help out with setting up the vacation bible school for the young children who had attended. Our jobs ranged from ensuring that the games the kids were playing were going correctly to setting up their lunches and packing their gift bags at the end of week. Each day, there were different stations that the kids rotated to that taught a different life lesson and value from the bible. Although it was aimed at the younger children, I found myself actually getting lost in the stories that were told before the kids were set free to play the game or create the art associated with the lesson. By the end of each day, I realized that I had actually learned something new and to add to that, it was something that I could actually apply in my day to day life. Each lesson, although simplified for the children, left me with a new piece of information to help me shape my personality and life. The simplified versions of the lessons also helped to allow me to understand the lessons being taught be Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity, making it much easier to understand. Volunteering at the church also allowed me to view Christianity in another point of view. I was born an Anglican and attended the same Anglican Church my entire life; however, this one was Lutheran, so it provided a more diversified version of basically the same religion. I enjoyed the different aspect of Christianity that the Lutheran church introduced to me and I believe that it has given me more resources to use in decision making and how to live my life as a true follower of Christianity.

Thanksgiving Food Drive
Another great volunteering opportunity that I attended was annual Thanksgiving Food Drive held at Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV). The job there was to help unload massive food trucks that delivered donated Thanksgiving food items such as turkeys, pies, bread, and other canned foods. Once the food was all unloaded and organized into multiple stations, people began to pour into hall where the food and the stations were held. At first, I thought these were the people that were having the food donated to them, but then I quickly realized that the people picking up the food were only doing so to deliver it to families in need of the donations! Hundreds, if not thousands of people were giving up and entire afternoon and night of their lives so that they could deliver Thanksgiving to families in need to make it as easy as possible for them. Soon, the other volunteers and I began to call them the Thanksgiving Santa. The entire experience made me realize how lucky I was to have actually grown up in family that could afford an entire Thanksgiving dinner, let alone having to worry whether or not a turkey was affordable that year. The event proved to be one of those few experiences that make you actually make a person not take all they have in life for granted. Overall, it was an extremely fun and beautiful event that I will more than likely volunteer for this coming Thanksgiving.

Homecoming Parade Set-Up
This year, I volunteered to help the Charter Oak ASB set up the Homecoming parade on the track and field. The service involved us having to put together the base and support of the massive set used during the actual parade. It was a great learning experience: especially fortifying skilled work with my hands. The project involved linking massive metal pipes to one another. However, it was much more difficult than it sounds. The pipes, being over ten feet long, would easily bend under their own weight, making it impossible to fit into the joints on each end especially being ten feet up on a ladder as well. Needless to say, the project required a great amount of teamwork. Although the process started out wobbly, as our communication and skill continued to progress, fitting each pipe became easier and quicker, of course with the guidance of the director, Dr. Gaber. Through this project, it’s safe to say that my teamwork and handyman skill greatly developed and improved. It was great feeling to see the final set created and used during the parade. Knowing that our work was the backbone of basically the entire decoration scheme was a great feeling and still is, and even better, knowing that I volunteered to create something the entire population at Charter Oak High School would greatly enjoy gave me an powerful sense of pride and warmth, on the chilly night.

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