Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Impacting One

Name: Haley Whicker
From: Cedarville, OH
Grade: Sophomore
School: Cedarville University
Votes: 0


This semester, I have been tutoring refugee children at an after school
program. When I saw the need for volunteers, I thought it would be
interesting so I decided to give it a try. I was originally
interested because I have really enjoyed tutoring in the past. If I
had the opportunity to continue to be involved with it I wanted the
chance. When I learned that the students were refugee students I was
more excited because I was would be able to interact with students of
many different cultures. I was excited to talk to the kids and hear
their stories as well as be able to establish a friendship with them.
We go to the elementary school once a week for about 2 hours, which
amounts to about 8-10 hours per month for about 4 months. As a
volunteer I help the kids with their homework and establishing a
relationship with the kids. Because they are refuges, the kids have
been through a lot and want people they can trust to build
relationships with. That is our goal in going. Because I want to be
a teacher, it has been good experience for me to teach the kids.

The hard thing, and biggest challenge is the lack of structure in the
program. The school is understaffed so they do not have a staff
member that oversees the tutoring which means the students do not
always listen to us. There is not a lot of incentive for them to
respect and listen to us because they will not be punished since we
do not have a lot of authority. Because the structure is not there,
the kids do not listen and they feed off each other. Asa result, they
do not get things done. There are quite a few kids in the program and
they outnumber us as volunteers, so trying to help 2 kids with
different homework can be hard especially when you cannot trust the
other child to do what he is supposed to. When you are helping one,
the other one is talking or yelling at other kids or running around
the room. The kids are not well behaved, and teaching them is hard,
but it is still a rewarding opportunity. It has been fun seeing the
kids faces light up as we come in and the children I have continually
worked with run up to me and give me a hug before leading me to a
table. It shows that my group has been making an impact on them and
are helping them even if we do not see it.

Something I have learned from this position is how to run a program well and
how to be adequately prepared for the task at hand. The first few
weeks the kids did not have a lot of homework so they could read
books, but the books were not interesting because they were designed
for reading proficiency not an entertaining story. The lack of
teachers and structure has shown me how important organization is in
a classroom and an activity. I have also seen how important it is to
think about your audience before planning an event or activity. For
example, expecting 20 first through fourth graders to sit quietly and
do their homework and then sit and read quietly is not realistic. The
kids have been in school all day, they are tired, and they do not
want to work anymore. This has taught me about the importance of
planning to your audience because we would be more effective if we
had a better plan to work with the kids. These lessons will be
helpful for me in the future as a teacher when thinking about how to
organize my classroom and how to plan for my students.

Looking forward to the future, I see how this volunteering is effective
because it will assist the students in English proficiency and help
them further their education and succeed at it. I do not really
expect the whole world to change as a result of what I am doing, but
if I can change the world of one student it will be worth it. If I
came back to these kids in ten years I would hope that they would be
successful educated young people that can make a better life for
themselves. I would not expect them to remember me, but I would hope
they remembered that people invested in them and spent time helping
them and in turn they would pour into the lives of other people.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".