Written by Audrey Jackson, YVC Outreach AmeriCorps Member, Hands On Nashville
This first appeared in Be More, a publication that promotes intercession opportunities for Metro Nashville Public Schools families.
For 18-year-old Jenny Sai, music is a way to show younger youth how vast and diverse the world really is.
A senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet in Nashville, Jenny first began devoting her time to volunteering in the community after participating in a seventh-grade fundraising event. “We were trying to keep my tennis team’s program from shutting down,” says Jenny. “We hosted a parade to raise funds, and there were a ton of people. The atmosphere was just special. It felt like what we were doing was for a good cause.”
This experience inspired her to find other ways to donate her time, energy, and talents. Shortly after entering high school, Jenny discovered ways to volunteer with Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) and began serving as a YVC Intern during her sophomore year.
For Jenny, volunteering is an opportunity to share her passion for music and the arts with younger youth. In her role as a YVC Intern, she designs and facilitates educational and skill-building lessons for youth served by area nonprofits. During her three years as a YVC Intern, she has volunteered at The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and is now serving at McFerrin Park Community Center.
Having played the flute and piano since elementary school, she sees music as a way for kids to connect to something bigger than themselves. Jenny’s lessons have included everything from creating homemade instruments to sharing music and traditions from other cultures.
“One of my favorite lessons was making henna hand tattoos with the girls [at Catholic Charities] and listening to Bollywood music to learn about the culture of India. While Indians use henna for celebrations, some of the Ethiopian girls I was working with use henna to dye hair or clothing. The girls thought it was so cool; it connected them to another culture.”
With only a few months until graduation, Jenny is savoring the rewarding moments she’s experienced at McFerrin Park Community Center this school year. Located in East Nashville, the center offers after-school activities for neighborhood youth. Jenny hopes to expose the kids to the diversity of other cultures.
On a recent visit to the center, Jenny spread out a colorful map on the floor and pointed out different Latin American countries. She talked about the different types of music that can be found across Latin America. “This was one of my favorite volunteer days,” says Jenny. “The kids and I talked about how big the world really is. They began to understand that while people are all different, really, we’re all the same. Volunteering has opened my eyes to what goes on in our communities and in our world.”
Are you interested in getting more involved in your community? Hands On Nashville offers a variety of youth leadership opportunities that empower young people to learn, grow, and become effective community leaders. Applications are now being accepted! Learn more and apply today at www.HON.org/youthleaders.