Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

I think the earthquake in Haiti impacted me quite a bit--and became a glass through which other world events and situations are viewed--there was such trauma and need there so suddenly.

For the first time, I was really interested in the election and although I was too young to vote, I had an opinion and I realized I'm actually quite political.

The BP Oil Spill.  Too close to home and on the heels of a community still rebuilding from Katrina.  How much can one place take?  It showed me how strong and resilient we really are.

I'm sure a lot of people will say the earthquake in Haiti affected them, but a smaller one affected me. The earthquake in Mexicali literally hit closer to home and I was able to make a small impact. I am connected with a nun who travels down there, so I was able to collect things that went directly to the tent cities she visited. Sheets, blankets, school supplies and more. I so wanted to travel down there with her, but was afraid as the violence in Mexico heated up. I speak Spanish, I long to help those who live in poverty, but I fear the random violence in Mexico. Maybe someday .... maybe by the time I read this next year, I will have taken that leap.

I was very much affected by the flotilla incident, where Israeli soldiers stormed an occupied territory-bound flotilla from Turkey, resulting in several casualities. I was affected by this because it was the first time I realized that my world really had changed with my conversion a few months earlier. Living in Brooklyn, it's easy to believe that being a Jew has no (or few) social consequences. We are surrounded by other Jews, living in what I consider an educated and enlightened social context. It was shocking to me to find my feelings and reactions very much distinguished from my liberal but non-Jewish friends. I was disoriented by the sense of otherness that I felt. Whereas once I had been firmly in the middle of a certain group of "us," now it was a different "us" that I seemed to be a part of. I struggled to differentiate how I felt about being Jewish vs. the subject of Israel and the actions Israel took to defend itself or to deal with the issues of Palestinians. I was deeply uncomfortable with friends' attitudes that seemed dangerously close to insensitive at best or anti-Semitic at worst. I learned that being a Jew is not synonymous with being a liberal, and definitely not vice versa, either. And suddenly I had skin in the game in a new and surprising new way.

9/11 even though it happened nine years ago. I watched the film Remember Me this year and really thought about what a catastrophe it was for people and those who were affected. It also made me think about life after death and I am trying to revaluate my faith and reconnect with God.

The proposed Quar'an burnings on 9/11 (today) made me see that we need to connect among different religious, cultural, and social groups. I am so sorry to all the Muslims out there who are being hurt by this, and it makes me think about all the different ways our global community has of hurting others. Quite simply, it makes me sad.

Grade eight. It taught me what a good friend was because I never knew. I was really obsessed with fitting in, but now I realised that you don't have to fit in with people who are your true friends. I think it was a great experience. I'm glad I found the courage to be myself.

We've had a lot of natural disasters--not that there aren't a lot all the time--that have been particularly horrific. Massive earthquakes in Pakistan, Haiti, Chile, and the subsequent problems like flooding, for example. My brother-in-law, a contractor, did some work post-earthquake in Haiti and instead of building like we all expected, he helped recover over 60 bodies from the rubble of a large hotel. Thinking about that really put things into perspective for me, not just for that disaster, but for the people who live in poverty every single day. Helping them means sacrificing a lot of ourselves, not just donating money to some faceless entity and hoping it helps. I hope to do more social work the next year.

The baby steps forward on equal rights for gays and lesbians. Although I'm straight, I have many gay/lesbian friends and family -- and I believe strongly that they have the right to form legally recognized relationships in our society. They have the right to build their own families and enjoy the privileges that straight couples seem to take for granted.