Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My First Day of Service: Thanh L.

The Young Heroes team works primarily with middle school aged students, so I was excited about the prospect of working with younger students in an elementary school twice a week. Our team was given a brief overview of our duties – tutoring, assisting the school’s literacy coach, and going on lunch and recess patrol. On my first day at this school, I had an idea of what to expect, but I forgot what it was like to be around 7 to 10 year olds. Elementary school children are tiny balls of energy, and they definitely know how to spread their enthusiasm.

When my team and I first walked into the school, we were immediately welcomed with high fives, bombarded with hugs, and greeted with screams of “Hey, City Year!” and “Are you going to play with us?” and “CITY YEAR!!!”

We felt like rock stars.

During most of the day, I spent time doing literacy and math tutoring and initially it was a struggle to get into the groove, but the kids I worked with were cooperative and willing to listen. At the end of the day I hoped I had made some sort of positive impact, although it was hard to tell just after the first day. The best part of the day, though, was recess.

At lunch, the kids are loud and definitely in need of letting out excess energy. When they’re allowed to go outside, it can seem very chaotic at first. There are kids all over the swings, running in the grass, hanging off the monkey bars and jungle gym – they’re everywhere. Despite the chaos, I came to see what our presence meant to the kids.

I saw two girls doing cheers and wanted them to teach me what they were doing and a fellow corps member, Andres, joined us. It wasn’t long before other kids were gathering around us, so Andres and I decided to show them some fun exercises that corps members perform at our Unity Rallies. The kids got really into it and were very serious about getting the moves and chants right. After doing a few rounds, a couple of the 3rd graders decided to lead their fellow schoolmates. Witnessing the eagerness of the kids to lead and seeing them getting excited over exercises that we showed them definitely made my service day amazing.

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