Part 168- Teen Court

Part 168- Teen Court

Recently I’ve been participating in something called Teen Court. No it’s not because I’m in trouble. (I have a funny story about that that I’ll mention later.) It’s because I wanted to see the court process as well as practice making decisions on serious things. Although Teen Court doesn’t deal with cases such as murder or kidnappings, they do deal with things that are serious for teens. Ex: Drug paraphernalia, speeding, assault, etc.

I’ve seen the process twice now, which I am extremely lucky to have. When I first applied I accidentally misunderstood the purpose and though that I had to have some class C misdemeanor to participate. I got extremely anxious and the court supervisor calmed me down and offered me the opportunity to observe the trials. I went for the first time and witnessed two of their more serious cases. Those include an official court and attorneys who argue for your case. I have mad respect for those attorneys. I remember seeing 2 girls who absolutely amazed me. One of them completely wiped the case clean. She presented her case so calmly and was so cool in her rebuttals. I was really impressed with how she performed. The other wasn’t as powerful as the other, but she still had a really interesting way of asking questions. I also liked how she presented her argument and how she concluded.

The second time I went was last week. I had asked after the first two cases were over if I could come back in to watch once again. However, instead of just observing, the court supervisor allowed me to also participate in the process as this was a more minor case. This is something I’m extremely grateful for. When I signed up there were 90 other kids in front of me. I had been expecting to get an actual opportunity maybe in December or so, but I was lucky and got to go before my time. It was really exciting but also scary. I had never participated in something like this before and didn’t know what to do.

Let me explain how Teen Court works. ( I don’t remember the exact process of the first cases I saw, so I’ll do my best to explain.) I participate in the Southlake Town Hall Teen Court System, so it may be different or similar to other courts.

“Welcome to Volunteer Southlake.” Welcome to Volunteer Southlake | Southlake, TX – Official Website,

 So there are two different kinds of ways a case is handled. For the more serious offenses such as underage alcohol possession or consumption or drug paraphernalia, there are trials with attorneys. After the jury and defendant take an oath, the offense first states their case. Then the defense. After that there’s a closing statement given to the jury and a final statement the defendant can give to explain themselves if wanted. The jury then goes into another room where they all make a decision. In Teen Court there aren’t really punishments. There is a minimum and maximum amount of volunteer hours given based on the severity of the offense as well as a certain number of jury terms. This is usually set by judges and cannot be changed. The jury makes a decision to assign the defendant a number of hours between that range according to what they have seen and then announce the decision once agreed upon.

For the other type of cases, the defendant and their guardian sit with a group of jurors and a supervisor. The jurors ask the questions instead and the defendant answers. The supervisor asks if there’s anything the defendant wants to say, and then the bailiff escorts them out of the room as the jurors make a decision. I was one of the jurors who got to ask a few questions and make a decision. In this I think something I learned was paying attention to every detail. We have to take in everything we’ve learned from the defendant, their case, and the given circumstances to make a decision. A decision made for one of the cases was based on a small detail I forgot to take into account for. Although a different decision seemed the better one in my opinion, it was that small detail that made the final more reasonable with a better mindset kept for the defendant. 

“Welcome to Volunteer Southlake.” Welcome to Volunteer Southlake | Southlake, TX – Official Website,

I think Teen Court is a good system. I like how it’s giving an opportunity for kids to correct their options in a way that can help them learn and give them a second chance. Instead of sending them to juvenile detention or something similar for their actions, it’s letting them get a decision made by kids of their age to decide for themselves. It allows kids who have been in their shoes to do the same. (Here’s the funny story)

So during my last interaction there was a short break in between the next case and everyone was talking about speeding tickets. I realized then that all these kids were completing their volunteer service hours by participating in this trial. They all were discussing what they were there for. Except me. The kid in front of me asked what speed I was going at and I told him I didn’t drive. He asked whether I assaulted someone. I said I was there to observe. The kid just nodded his head. Anyways, I just felt good/awkward that I was the only one without an offense. I didn’t really realize the majority of the jurors would be kids trying to complete their offenses.

Moving on. It just allows kids who have been in the same situation as them to make a decision based on experience and a similar mindset to help. On an unrelated note, the craziest takeaway from that last experience was that I actually found out one of them is an upperclassman at my school. Here’s how it goes. I see him on Tuesday for the court, and then two days later as I walk to math I see him walking the other direction with his friends. I almost double-take to make sure it was him. IT WAS. I saw him the day after that in the fine arts hall. And now I see him almost every day in some way. I mean, a Pokémon backpack and tall figure is noticeable in the crowd, right? Every time I see him, I can’t help but think, “Oh, there’s the kid from court who got pulled over for speeding. Huh. Wonder if his friends know.”

In terms of whether Teen Court is a good or bad influence, I would say good. It does several things, including giving kids a second chance, time to volunteer, learn about the law, and a learning opportunity to make better decisions. Although I’m not participating because of some offense. It’s a great learning opportunity for me- or other potential lawyers/attorneys- to learn more about law and court. For me I can learn how court works and the sort of decisions made based on presented evidence and arguments. It can help to learn how to take everything into consideration when making a decision, and making the best choice. I think I can definitely learn a lot about the court from these opportunities in order to become a better attorney.

Part 156- Volunteering

When I was first told I would be volunteering this weekend, I agreed, mainly for two reasons. One, because my parents told me to. Two, I needed the hours for my school’s Silver Star program, and for the future. Before I tell you about what happened, let me tell you about a previous volunteer experience. 

I had volunteered at a different event before for a different “group”, but my problem there was that I wasn’t very social. I didn’t talk to the people I was working with, or try to talk much with them. I wasn’t trying to be rude. I had only wanted to get my work done perfectly and ended up getting a little too engrossed in it to realize I didn’t talk much. I wanted to correct that, so at this next event I would be helping out, my goal was to interact and talk more. But, like I said, that’s slightly more overwhelming than what it should be.

Here’s the thing with me. In unknown/new situations, I’m the type of person to be very hesitant when it comes to the moment of decision. Times when I’m in a comfortable, more known situation, I’ll be able to give an immediate answer and be able to do things without doubting myself. But when I’m not, I start questioning every action I do. For example, reaching out and doing something, including helping people. I do want to step in and ask if they need anything or offer assistance, or even just do something. But I start questioning it. I plan the scenario in my mind, but for one reason I can’t do it. I have to internally scream at myself at least ten times to just do it, before I actually do it.

When we first arrived, there was this girl who was volunteering as well, and she complimented my dad’s truck. My dad then pointed out how she easily initiated a conversation. And that’s where my anxiety kicked in. I started getting nervous about my performance and behavior at the event. Despite all the tips and conversation starter examples my parents had given me moments before, I was still panicking about how to initiate a conversation. Seeing her do it so easily made me worry even more, and put even more pressure on myself to not mess up. This mindset resonated a lot within the first 2 hours or so of the event.

There were three junior volunteers that day, including myself, and so we had decided to switch stations if necessary. One would be in charge of the popcorn, another in the wheel-spinning prizes, and the other in the bouncy house. I started at the wheel-spinning game, and awkwardly stood behind the table for some time as people came in. In all honesty, I was really bad. Yes, I would greet each family and ask how they were, but I was so…stiff. I didn’t talk with emotion or make attempts to start a conversation. I also didn’t make that much commentary or tried hyping the kids for their prizes as much. It was like I was following procedures, and not a natural behavior.

After I and the girl at the bouncy house switched, I observed what she was doing. I saw how she would actually lean down and speak to the kids, and show them what they get instead of picking it out. I saw how enthusiastic and helpful she was to the kids. Instead of standing behind a table and motioning to things, she would actually hand them out and make small talk or commentary about it. Things I didn’t do. I realized that, and tried it out as I stood near the bouncy house. Although it wasn’t much interaction, I got to talk to a few kids and have fun with them.

After our next switch, I took in what I saw the other girl do and tried interacting further again. I tried making some commentary on what they won’t, and helping them with their prizes. I also tried making more talk with the adults and asking how their day was going or complementing them. And actually, because of this, one of my favorite moments of that day was made. There were these two ladies, and when they came to me, I complimented one of them on her bag. She was so happy at that moment and thanked me, saying that was nice of me. She then asked me for my name and in return I asked for hers. After that she and the other lady both thanked me for coming out to help. That moment made me feel really good about what I was doing. It made me more confident in what I was doing,and helped push myself to try and be better in what I was doing. That small assurance really boosted my confidence in myself and what I was doing at that moment, and really made my day. There was another gentleman who had also done the same for other volunteers. He told them he had googled the definition of awesome, and the picture of the volunteers was there. It was such a nice compliment, and it really made their day. 

After our final switch, the mood became more relaxed. By the end, I had dropped some of my formalities/stiff behavior and was more confident in talking and interacting. There are still a couple of things where I can improve upon, but definitely, by the end of the event, I had gotten better at interacting and helping out than before. Now, if I have to do a similar thing, most likely I will be able to have more confidence and knowledge about what I’m doing from the previous experience. Hopefully, it’ll be better as well. 

Another thing I want to talk about is the members of the fire department. Miss Suzanne, the president, and Miss Gretchen, the secretary, were both, along with many others, incredibly appreciative of the volunteers. There were so many times where they and other volunteers working would come up to me and check if I needed a break or some water or even if I wanted a chair. Despite the numerous things they had to manage, they still would come and check up and make sure I was doing fine or not. I was extremely grateful each time they did. Even though I politely declined each time, it was extremely thoughtful of them to come and ask if I needed anything. They also kept thanking me and the other volunteers for taking time out of our days to come and help them. At those moments, they never acted as firemen or a president. They were really just people who were appreciative of us coming and helping them even though we were busy as well.

Above all this, the biggest thing was volunteering. This experience has actually changed my own perspective on volunteering. Before I did this, like I said in the beginning, I only really wanted to volunteer for hours. It may be a bit selfish of me, but I had only thought of it that way. I didn’t realize what other importance volunteering had. Volunteerism is the “principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility, rather than for any financial reward.” When people volunteer, they donate time and money that can help cover events such as the open house, leaving money the department can use to buy more or better equipment.

The purpose of this open house was for the firemen and members working there to create a closer relationship with the people, especially the kids, and even influence them into being a firefighter in the future. It brings the community together, and closer.

I also want to say how I think volunteers are amazing people. Not because I’m one myself, but because of how hard they work. One of the girls I was working with had a midterm on Monday, yet she chose to come and take valuable study time to help our community. Volunteers are taking hours of their days, helping organizations and people even when they can have jam-packed schedules, all because they want to do something for their community. They work hard and interact with each other, and that really shows.

So, to sum it up. As I had my second experience with volunteering, I got to see a different side of what it is that volunteers do. I saw what volunteerism really is, and why volunteers are so important. I also got to have a better experience and interaction with my community by volunteering, and hopefully will be able to go volunteer again.

BMM 2019

From July 11-14 I attended BMM as a volunteer helping my mom and the committee from early in the morning to late at night. We stayed 5 days and 4 nights in the splendid Omni Hotel which had a skywalk to the convention center.  Now, for those who don’t know about BMM or know but didn’t come, I’ll explain from my point of view.

Wednesday: This was the day we left home to go to the Omni hotel. My dad was at work and would come later, whereas I and my mom were finishing packing all our clothes and shoes and supplies for those 5 days and 4 nights. We had 3 suitcases of 3 different sizes, an IKEA bag full of shoes, a big cloth bag with fete and our cowboy hats, and some purses and simple carrying bags. Luckily our house is only an hour away including traffic but it was less crowded so we only took 40 minutes. The staff at the hotel unloaded our luggage onto a cart and waited for us while we checked in, and brought our baggage to our room. After he left we unpacked the simple things, our special clothes which we would need soon, our toiletries for the night, make up for my mom, nail polish, for my mom, and our important stuff into the safe. Once we settled down and explored our room, we ordered a delicious chicken club sandwich and cheesecake which came withy silverware, a cloth napkin, a glass of water with a plastic sheet on top, 3 sauces, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise,  with your dish covered by a cover to protect it. The cheesecake and sandwich were so good and amazingly made that I never wanted to finish eating it. Anyway, I finished it and looked outside our window which was ceiling to floor length with an amazing view of the buildings around it. We settled down, my mom was doing her nails for the event and watching TV while I sat on the comfy orange chair with my blanket and iPad watching my own videos. My dad was running a little late so my mom had to take me to the registration that was happening because she’s part of the Host and Hospitality team. After finally finding our way there we got to work. My mom at the desk of the donor booth while me at the side not knowing what to do with 3 teenagers from the volunteer team helping at the back. Finally, my friend came and saved me. We went to the other booth for non-donors and helped out, me finally knowing what to do until my dad came and picked me up. We went back to the room and I got ready for bed while my dad worked a bit. He was going back to our house because we forgot to bring his work clothes for the next day. So, I quickly fell asleep because I was so incredibly exhausted after working for so long.

Thursday: On Thursday there was a special program for the senior where there are singers who sing classical Marathi songs. I was helping out there after I ate breakfast and I have to say, I loved the breakfast. Even if it was all Indian food, there was a continental section which I had breakfast from. Cereal with toast and milk was what I ate. I and my mom sat down and ate and some of the other members of the Host and Hospitality team came and ate with us. We left after finishing to help out with the program. After five minutes of work, I went downstairs to help my friend, the Hospitality chair’s daughter with registration. It’s funny because I’m the co-chair’s kid and she’s the chair’s kid, and she’s only a year older than me. Anyway, I helped out with her and her friend until they closed for a lunch break. We went upstairs and went to the MAY I HELP YOU? booth our moms’ were setting up. After checking with them, we dashed off to the cafeteria without knowing it opens at 12 and not 11:30. After not being allowed in for a half-hour we waited hungrily and finally went inside. The food is so delicious there. All the food are recipes sent in people so that was even more exciting.  After lunch, I changed into a regular shirt and leggings for my dance practice on the stage. Once our practice was over my mom picked me up to go back to the hotel so I could change for the banquet. For a kid, the banquet would be boring and it was. The food was delicious, but I’m not used to old Marathi songs and it was really late at night so I started to doze off until I couldn’t due to uncomfortable posture. My dad finally took me back to the hotel where I slept to the next day.

Friday: This is the day of the opening ceremony. The Opening ceremony is what my dance classes were for. I was in the second dance, the one with the kids and I loved every moment of being on that stage. The way everyone watched me as I danced, the light bouncing off my face, the way I knew this was the last time I would do this again yet I still smiled throughout my performances, laughing and smiling like it was never going to end, and that it was real, not in dance. I was in a traditional Indian school dancing with my friends in the rain and watching the boys play cricket while we cheer them on. I loved every moment of it. I also love all the other dances. Especially the teen ones, they were so cool. I missed it by 2 years to get into them, yet I still recorded them dancing so I could practice the moves even after the event is done. The entire ceremony passed by quickly, and I changed after it ended. Me and my friend, the hospitality one, went to a program where a famous cartoonist who drew these comic strips of a character ca,e to tell us the story of it. After that, I went to his workshop, late, yet I still entered my drawing for a chance to win in only like two minutes after I came. After the workshop I helped with the MAY I HELP YOU BOOTH? with my friend and we had lunch together. I and my dad watched some of the programs and had to leave one of them early because I was in a surprise that was happening soon. After my mom picked me up and I changed into a white kurta with an orange sash around my waist with black tights underneath, we waited at the MAY I HELP YOU? booth with everyone else in the surprise. Once there was a crowd gathered after the calling, our music started and we rushed to our positions. After 1 practice round to call more people, we repeated this 4 times, excluding the practice. Twice in the same spot where we practiced and twice near a different area. After that my parents and I split up, them going to watch a play while I went to childcare for my enjoyment to be with my friends. Childcare was not what I expected, so please be reminded that childcare wasn’t the best. Later we went back to our room with aching, exhausted feet.

Saturday: On Saturday was Gaurav Yatra where everyone was wearing novaris and fetes. At the front was a sign that said Gaurav Yatra and followed by that were the younger kids all dressed up, looking so adorable. Behind them were the legim dancers. I became one of the very day they performed. Behind us was everyone else from different places, the people who were holding the flags, the dhol tasha people and more. We circled the convention center and danced a bit. When we went back inside I changed and went back to childcare. Only two of my friends were there so not as fun. I came out, had lunch with my family and helped out at the booth for a little while. I went back to childcare and my friends weren’t there yet, so I waited a little while. My dad picked me up surprisingly and asked me to help out with handing out gazras to everyone. We ran out of bobby pins when we were more than halfway through so we had to use safety pins instead. Also, the gazra were cold. After being in a cooler for so long made them freezing. Anyway, after that, I went back to childcare and my friends were there. We played together then did the contests. Jump roping and limbo. My dad picked me up and we went back to our room. Another long day of helping and aching feet.

Sunday: As soon as I woke up I started packing our stuff up. It was the last day of BMM 2019 and I was devastated. We loaded our baggage back into our cars and headed off to breakfast. The last day was about Texas. We were Cowboys and wore our famous hats that day. After breakfast, we watched the Shivaji Maharaj powada which I really wanted to be part of but couldn’t. That’s ok though. After that, the opening ceremony really began. It started with the baton passing to Charlotte, which is where BMM 2021 will be, and then with the invitation from charlotte, then the president of BMM stepping down. After that, the play started. Somewhere through the beginning, I was called backstage to finish the closing ceremony with my friends. I had no idea what to do because two of them, there were 4 at first then it expanded,  had done the dance before so learning something last minute was a bit of a challenge. We made it through and gave the closing ceremony a big kick. After that we had lunch and helped out with taking the MAY I HELP YOU? booth apart and putting everything back into storage or taking our stuff home. Once we were ready we went back to the hotel and went electric scooter riding. My mom so so tired she didn’t want to, yet it’s hard to believe that I had enough energy to stand and ride it even if my feet hurt, and my mom didn’t want to. I guess its aging.

My overall thoughts of BMM 2019 are that I loved it. That was my favorite and only BMM I’ve been to but I’m going to see charlotte’s next year. Our video invitation was already much better than their’s so I’m expecting that there’s isn’t going to be as awesome as ours. Yet you never know. I really miss it but I’m reminding myself about it every day for when I wake up after I brush and get my morning milk, I play every video of the opening ceremony on the TV to remind myself about all the things my mandal accomplished in those 4-5 days. And also so I can practice the dance moves of the other dances, just for fun. In conclusion, BMM 2019 was probably the best BMM ever; so, look out Charlotte, Dallas just set a high bar for you!!!!


Last Saturday me and my dad did some volunteering. Volunteering means helping others when they can’t do it themselves. My dad had all the big tools when I just had one tiny rake. We were volunteering to clean up the yards of old people because they can’t do yard work themselves. I was the only kid but I was a lot of help, and we all had a pizza party when we were done. The grown ups mowed and cleaned. I helped by holding garbage bags for other adults so they could throw things away and rake. This was a good thing to do because sometimes old people can’t do it themselves and it really helps them have a better and cleaner lawn. My mom didn’t come because we were having guests come over the very same day so she had to get the house ready. 

I also helped by talking to a woman named Ms. Rosa because sometimes she might feel lonely. She was 92 years old and I don’t know what she was talking about. 
I feel happy and proud because helping others is the right thing to do because we are part of a community and everyone should help each other out.
Here is the video for our work.