Taking Action

by Natasha Kumaraswami

Natasha Kumaraswami is a rising Pinewood senior and is currently interning in the Communications Office. She is the President of Interact, Pinewood’s service club at Upper Campus, and Copy Editor for the high school Yearbook Club. She loves volunteering at BOK Ranch, cheering for the Stanford women’s volleyball team, and eating Trader Joe’s Golden Caramel Swirl ice cream.

In early June, a group of 28 Pinewood high school students took a trip south to Peru with the Global Leadership Adventures team. Accompanied by faculty members Olivia Bradley, José Luis Orduña, Jaime Fields, and Matt Stimson, the students fulfilled a mission of engaging in community service and cultural learning in the city of Ollantaytambo. The group spent 12 days in Peru serving locals, learning about Incan history, and enjoying themselves in nature. 

Our students began their trip serving at a small school, where they read, sang, and played games with its elementary students. Collectively, students were also able to fix up the school’s greenhouse for the following school year by clearing rocks, plastering the interior and exterior, replanting, and more. This greenhouse provides the school with fresh vegetables that help keep students healthy and nourished during the school year. With every Pinewood trip comes invaluable fun and learning experiences. After concluding their dedicated time of service, the group went white water rafting in a river a few hours away from Ollantaytambo and delved deep into Incan history by visiting ruins and hiking an Incan trail over three days. The trip culminated with an outing to Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan citadel that offers insights into a rich cultural history and outstanding views. 

Pinewood students grow as self-motivated, respectful individuals of character by frequently engaging in service-learning opportunities. In Spring of 2019, a group of our high schoolers took a trip to Thailand where they engaged with students and improved infrastructure at schools, gave lessons in English and swimming, and helped at an elephant sanctuary. Pinewood’s Interact club, one of the most populous clubs at Upper Campus, also serves with the goal of improving our immediate, national, and global communities through outreach events, drives, and fundraising. Students at Pinewood are committed to taking action and making our world a better place.

My experience with Interact, as a three-year member and President for the upcoming year, has changed the lens through which I see the world. I joined in my sophomore year with the intention of spending time with my friends and maybe cleaning up a beach or two, but have emerged with an entirely new mentality. I have seen all that people can do for one another and all the impact that one person can have. It starts right here in the Pinewood community, where we decorate all the doors at Upper Campus to brighten everyone’s day. It continues to our California community, where we create art with children coping with cancer. It extends to our global community, where we donate books to help start a school in Africa. Joining Interact has shown me that our community is motivated from within to do good and that Pinewood provides us with many opportunities to take action. 

In the next school year, community service will continue to play a significant role at Pinewood. Students will visit Cuba over Spring Break to serve the people there. Interact will continue its goal with Los Altos Rotary to create lasting change in our local community. 

Students, make sure to get involved with the community service opportunities at Pinewood in the coming school year. Learn more about Interact at an assembly at the start of the year and come to our first meeting. More information about future service and service-learning trips will be made available over the course of the year. See how Pinewood students get involved in their communities >>

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