Sunday, March 21, 2010
Mrs. Cullen: The Teacher
I feel like its been forever. I was gone for a week but I feel like I’ve been gone forever. For the third year, I participated in something called Alternative Spring Break with my college. It’s basically a program that is dedicated towards community service and learning about our city. It was about 50 of us this year. We all stayed in a church for the week, would attend lectures in the morning, would do community service during the day, and then go to a different cultural restaurant every night. It was so much fun. Sigh. Since this was my third year, I already knew some of the people, but of course majority were new. So, I met a lot of AMAZING people. Sigh.
During the community service part, everyone is split up in different groups. For the last two years my group was “Crime and Blight,” so we would have to do service related to this. This year I choose “Education.” Sigh. The other two groups are “Hunger and Homelessness” and “Arts and Culture.” And all but the latter are MAJOR ISSUES in my huge city, which btw is 143 square miles. So that means its bigger than San Francisco, DC, and Seattle combined. Anywayyyyy, I had an amazing week. And it sucks because it’s just so hard to explain to my friends and family what a week it was and the only people who understand is the ones you were there with. Thank God one of my good friends was with me because its something I can talk to her about often. And, on the last day there is a banquet and we were allowed to invite friends or family and I invited two of my friends, so now they know how my week was too.
Since my group was “Education” we volunteered at a school and a literacy center. The school was actually an after school program for kids from all over the city (since the whole Education system in our city is messed up….there is a 80% drop out rate and 50% literacy rate……SIGH…). My group and I did reading evaluations on the kids and we also helped them with their homework. One of the days the reading evaluation required us to ask 5 year olds a bunch of questions. One worksheet had a list of the alphabet. The students had to recognize each letter, the sound of each letter, and say a word that started with each letter. This was fun. One thing I will never forget is when the word was “W” and I asked the boy for a word that starts with “W” and he said “wunny nose” (instead of runny nose—SO CUTE!). Another question was about rhyming. This was sad. Sigh. 5 year olds should know how to rhyme…. and they should know nursery rhymes…but this was not the case. I couldn’t get one of my students to say a word that rhymed with cat….and I couldn’t even explain to her what a “rhyme” was…because she just didn’t understand…
The literacy center was amazing! It a tutoring center for adults and students. The adults are mostly trying to get their GEDs and need help studying, while they kids just get help with school. A lot of the adults are also ESL (English as a second language) students. Also, some of them are simply out of work and need help writing resumes and practicing interviews. This center is AMAZING because all of the tutoring is FREE! Isn’t that great!!?!?! I’m gonna start volunteering there full-time! One of the days I spent 4 hours helping 1 lady write a resume. She was 51 years old, out of work and didn’t know how to spell words as simple as: often and October..sigh! This whole experience was so heartbreaking….
Anyway, of course we also had a lot of fun during the week. All of the participants of ASB had a mock wedding, which is something my friends and I have wanted to do for a long time. IT WAS AWESOME! Everyone got so into it. I was the priest. Hehe. Anyway, this is getting pretty long so I should get going. I am sad to be back home...Actually, I'm pretty depressed.. I miss ASB, all the friends I made, and all the memories and the volunteering...the teaching..and just I dunno...Sigh…Sigh…
Yours for the Sake of Peace and Eju-ma-kation,