BY BECCA SIROTA AND NOAM GAL / AJT//
If you had the opportunity to make a difference, what would you do?
As high school students, we often feel like we aren’t in a position to improve our world. That all changed for us at Yeshiva Atlanta last week, when we took part in the school’s Cause Fair.
With individual presentations, students advocated for causes they believed needed attention and provided solutions for the problems they detailed. For months prior, we researched projects, explored issues, came up with solutions and then prepared a presentation.
By Feb. 27, we were ready to enlighten, inform, and inspire.
In a change from previous years, this iteration of the Cause Fair had students use PowerPoint presentations to illustrate their chosen issue. Each individual was given five minutes to detail findings and made his or her presentation in a separate room.
While some students dealt with familiar issues – illiteracy, cancer and human trafficking – other focused on lesser-recognized problems like elder abuse, juvenile arthritis and the potential extinction of bananas.
In their presentations, students used photos for emotional impact and graphs to focus on data. Their oral arguments helped in pulling all their hard work together.
“I’m learning each of these kids has their own passions and are finally getting the chance to express their feelings towards it,” said YA junior Josh Weissmann after watching a few of the presentations.
Though nervous at first, most of the presenters were fueled by interest in their cause and managed to push through in a confident manner. As often as not, the students ended with a bang.
“Choose to save a life…save the world,” senior Levi Siegelman stated firmly at the conclusion of his presentation.
He and others each offered a method for making a difference in the world by raising awareness about a topic, donating money to the chosen cause and spending time understanding a wide range of issues and problems.
Indeed, at least one student – sophomore Elliot Dosetarah – has already started working on ways to end illiteracy, a cause he cares deeply about. By placing bins around the school, Elliot collected books for organizations which focus on increasing the literacy rate among children.
Other students managed to make a connection between themselves and the causes they championed. One student, Tova Asher, detailed the emotional strain she felt as a child when her mother was battling cancer.
“I’m going to start by helping people like me,” she said.
Such personal involvement made the presentations all the more engaging and inspiring. The eight weeks that students put into their projects definitely paid off.
Many students, teachers and parents left the presentations better-informed on the problems and concerns facing the world today and – more importantly – with a greater understanding of how to go about fixing such problems.
Once the presentations ended, audience members were provided with “Yeshiva Bucks” to make donations towards their favorite three causes. The top three students receiving the largest Yeshiva donations were given money to donate to their cause.
Even though there were apparent winners, in reality the Cause Fair benefitted everyone by raising awareness and offering solutions for a host of issues. The next step is simply to take action.
Becca Sirota and Noam Gal are students at Yeshiva Atlanta. For more information on our local Modern Orthodox high school, visit yeshivaatlanta.org.