Q&A Sessions Get to know her: Mira, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AND VOLUNTEER

High School Senior and Volunteer, Mira shares stories about giving back to others and where it all started. Read on to find out about her very own earring shop that supports girls in developing countries and her highs and lows of the shelter-in-place.

(9 min. read)

Q: What was your first experience with Family Giving Tree? What sparked your interest?

A: My first experience with FGT was actually when I was in elementary/middle school! I remember helping out as a little Girl Scout with the Holiday Wish Drive sorting and collecting presents for the drive! It was always so much fun during the holiday season, and the drive became quite a tradition in our family- leading us to donate presents or participate in some way or another every year for the past 6-7 years! I am genuinely interested in finding ways to help others in any way that I can, so working with Family Giving Tree really provided me with opportunities to pursue that!

Q: You seem to be quite creative with many hidden talents! You play guitar, paint, and sing! Tell us about how you make time for these things you enjoy and why you love it.

A: Music & Art are huge parts of my life! I have always been into music, and I teach kids ukulele (when we aren’t sheltering in place). I have loved to sing since I was little. Same with art though it isn’t something I do seriously. It is so therapeutic to work with different art forms and spend time mindlessly using your mind, if that makes sense! No matter how busy I get, I ALWAYS try to find time for the things in life I love to do because, well, I love them! It makes me so happy to just sit down and spend a little bit of time doing something that I actually want to do because it makes doing routine things in my day more enjoyable.

Q: ‘madeforu’ is your very own accessory shop with sales that go to empowering girls in developing countries. Do you make these yourself? What got you into starting this? Tell us more about where proceeds go and how you go about choosing which organizations.

Over quarantine, I decided to start a little earring shop to pass the time and revive my passion for earring-making! I do create/design all of the earrings myself, but I find the charms from local businesses on Etsy to support them! I really wanted to find my quarantine craft and I had so many of the supplies at home, so I just kind of dove right into creating earrings and my business! I am so thankful that it has been going pretty well so far, especially because part of the proceeds are going to girls in developing countries.

A few years ago, I led a service trip to a small, rural village school in Cambodia called the Doris Dillon School in Cambodia for my Girl Scout Gold Award. I oversaw a girl empowerment program and music program for the kids there! The girl empowerment program was meant to essentially establish the importance of pursuing higher education to make their dreams and aspirations. It was such an incredible experience and I wanted part of the profits of these earrings to go to the girls and the programs that have been sustained at the school since going!

Mira showing off one of her handmade earrings!

Q: When did your passion for helping others first begin? What keeps you motivated?

A: I probably have to credit my parents for this one! I think I am just naturally a person that wants to help out, and when I see a problem I always try my best to fix it. Two things keep me motivated, the first of which is frustration! There are a lot of times that I will see an injustice or something in the status quo that I don’t think is fair. And more often than not, if I want to see a change that no one else can help fix, I just step in and do it myself! My biggest philosophy is being the change I want to see and that has definitely fostered my passion for activism. Even when times are tough, this philosophy helps me keep an open mind and stay positive so I can help my community and those around me.

Q: How has giving back to others impacted your life?

A: This question really excites me because the more I think about it, the more I come to terms with the fact that giving back has impacted me in more ways than I could express. I have always been interested in activism, which has led me to work with and for diverse communities. With every community I have worked with (low-income, houseless, village children in Cambodia & India, girls, teens, etc.), I have gained so many new perspectives and a new understanding of the world around me. The biggest thing I have received from giving back to others is empathy and truly understanding how similar we are with one another regardless of status, race, or gender and I think that is such a wonderful and fulfilling piece of knowledge to gain going into college and life!

Mira at Doris Dillon School in Cambodia

Q: Recently you ran your own At-Home School Supply Drive to help with our Education Relief Fund. What was it like? How did it feel getting support from your community?

A: This Supply Drive was such a fun way to focus on the positive amidst the pandemic. In my community, I am definitely known as the “community service girl” because I find service and volunteer opportunities for my peers to join to either just volunteer or finish off graduation requirements. When schools started closing due to the pandemic, I thought I wouldn’t be able to provide that one last fun event with my peers before graduating. When I learned about Family Giving Tree’s Education Relief Fund from my aunt, I realized that I could use this opportunity to encourage my peers to give back while also supporting students in need. As always, I am so grateful to have the support from my peers and community when it comes to organizing drives and events like these. I was especially moved by the number of donations that we were able to get for this drive. It was wonderful seeing that even amidst a pandemic there is hope and kindness from my community!

Q: We saw on Instagram that there was a mishap with someone stealing the donations. You seemed to have handled the situation well - what kept you motivated? How did you feel when you noticed the supplies were gone?

A: So, unfortunately, yes, there was a mishap with the donations as we caught a person coming and grabbing them from our porch in the middle of the night. When I first noticed the supplies were missing, my first instinct was anger. How could someone steal something meant to go to students? Though I was upset at first, this anger manifested itself into motivation. The longer I thought about it, the longer I realized that if someone were to have stolen something out of sheer desperation, that just goes to show how important it is that I keep collecting donations and working towards completing this drive strong! Something positive that came out of this situation is that stolen donations turned into more attention towards the importance of donating which in return meant more donations both in physical supplies and money towards the fund!

Education Relief Fund donations collected by Mira

Q: How has your own experience been with distance learning? What do you miss about being in school?

A: Distance learning has definitely had its challenges. I am very fortunate to have access to the supplies/technology needed, but it has been hard finding the motivation to learn on my own, both because distance learning means a lack of interaction from teachers but also because I am a second semester senior, so my "senioritis" has really slowed me down. That being said, I have been putting in effort into many of my classes to keep myself busy and stimulated during this time, so though it may not be the way I imagined my year going, I am still learning quite a bit about subjects that interest me! The thing I miss the most about being in school is the interactions I had with others. For me, the most enjoyable aspects of school were the little things - saying hi to peers during the passing period, talking with my teachers before school, or even just quietly working with a partner during class. I know that I will soon enough get to have these interactions in college, but I will miss getting to do that in high school.

Q: What are some high and lows you’ve experienced with the shelter in place? What is some advice you have for other students your age that might be struggling during this time?

A: Just like many others during shelter-in-place, the biggest area in which I have had my highs and lows fluctuate the most is with my mental health. It has been difficult to come to terms with the “new normal” and I have experienced moments of feeling defeated or losing motivation easily more often than not. I know that I am not the only one who has felt that way, especially because for teens my age, we all faced an abrupt end to our year (for many, our senior year of high school) and didn’t have time to process an end to school like usual.

My biggest advice that I can give to anyone feeling down is simple: Take one day at a time. I know that for me before shelter in place, it was easy to lose track of time and group weeks/months into one because of how fast-paced life is. Now that we are all sheltering in place, we are forced to come to terms with our feelings and emotions and it can be difficult to do so. If you take one day at a time, it will not only feel like quarantine is going faster but also it gives you the opportunity to celebrate the little wins. You don’t need to accomplish something every single day! We are in a pandemic and life can get even more stressful than before, just remember that waking up, getting coffee, and spending the day with yourself is equally as wonderful as anything else!

If you take one day at a time, it will not only feel like quarantine is going faster but also it gives you the opportunity to celebrate the little wins. You don’t need to accomplish something every single day! We are in a pandemic and life can get even more stressful than before, just remember that waking up, getting coffee, and spending the day with yourself is equally as wonderful as anything else!

Q: What will be the first thing you do once the shelter in place is over?

A: The first thing I am going to do once shelter in place is over is invite a few friends over and host a mini-graduation to make up for our canceled one. I am so excited to get to walk the lawn and receive my diploma with some of my best friends and then watch a Disney movie to celebrate our way of closing this chapter of our life together.

Granting Wishes For Joy And Learning To Those In Need