Palmetto High School senior Kira Levin has accumulated 2,500 community service hours. It is always astonishing when a teenager attains 1,000 hours of community service, so the 2,500 hours mark is almost incredible.
How did Levin achieve that astounding number? For starters, she journeyed to Tanzania with Global Leadership Adventures, a teaching and community service organization.
“I have a major passion for the world,” Levin says. “In my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to go abroad and teach.”
She says that going to Africa changed her life and reinforced her passion to somehow make a difference in the world.
“When you’re putting up a malaria net or building a kitchen, you feel it,” Levin says. “Not only was I making a difference in my students’ lives, I came back a changed person. It secured my goal for the future and what I wanted to pursue in my life. By going abroad, my entire perspective of the world changed. If I could, I would erase poverty in the world.”
Just getting permission to go Africa was not easy. It took a six-month campaign to convince her parents to allow her to go.
“I would make posters and fliers to convince my parents,” she says. “My room was covered in posters with all the organizations that I called and researched.”
Her parents kept saying no, but Levin was determined. She finally got her mother to sit down and consider the possibility of letting her go abroad.
“You see such different conditions there,” Levin says. “They didn’t think they were missing anything, that’s what shocked me. What more would I ask for? I have a 4.0 grade average and I have 12 Advance Placement classes. Over they don’t even have toilets. They get malaria, yet they’re so jubilant. They offered me everything they had; I would yawn and they offered me their bed. It makes me appreciate for everything we have here.”
Another way Levin helped others was through her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
“It’s called Pencils for Progress,” she says.
“I started it my sophomore year. It’s a school supplies collection.”
Some of the supplies she collected went to Tanzania, but not all of it because of the shipping costs. Locally Levin donated supplies to the Education Fund run by Ocean Bank.
“Teachers come to the warehouse and get the supplies that they need,” she says. “It’s helpful to teachers who can’t attend.”
She will have a collection drive in October to replenish supplies.
Her community service work at home includes volunteering at the Coral Oaks Tennis Club with some friends.
“I went there every day and we would help out,” she says. “We would clean up and help the little kids, and we got to play tennis with them.”
Levin loves to travel. She has been to Israel with members of her temple and she has traveled to Italy and Holland with her family. Last summer she visited France and the Czech Republic.
“It was my last vacation with my family before college,” she says. “I really like traveling; it’s an obsession.”
When she is not trying to change the world, Levin can be found hard at work in extracurricular school activities. She is president of the Future Educators of America, treasurer of the National Honor Society, on the executive board for the Social Science Honor Society and the Student Council sectary of Teacher Appreciation,
Levin is considering such colleges as Yale, Brown, American University and Georgetown.
“I don’t want to be a politician; I want to be the person in the background,” she says. “My ideal job is to be the person who goes to Third World countries.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld