Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Mentoring Aspiring Thespains

Name: Anna Odell
From: Bel Air, Maryland
Grade: 11
School: Patterson Mill High School
Votes: 57

Volunteering with young, aspiring thespians is one of the many blessings I
stumbled upon this year. At first, a friend just looked at me and
said, “Hey, we could use some extra help this weekend; are you
free?” But after working with the other staff members and the
kids, I was in love and THRILLED when the lady in charge asked me to
help out more. So far I have volunteered for about 7.5 hours per
week, but those hours increase around show times. As a volunteer, I
help to teach songs, dances, and techniques; but most importantly, I
help them have fun and express themselves through theatre. The most
difficult part of this volunteering is when kids start to get tired
or lose enthusiasm. As a leader in that situation, it is my job to
motivate them and encourage them to persevere. When a kid finally
understands something that they were having a hard time learning or I
get to see the joy on their faces as the present on stage or a parent
comes up to tell me how much their child practices at home, those are
some of the best and most satisfying feelings. Sometimes it is more
difficult for a child to reach these revelations, and that can be
incredibly frustrating; knowing that a child can do something that
they are fully convinced they can’t do. That’s one of the hardest
things about doing this volunteer opportunity, but it has also taught
me a few things:

  1. You have to be patient. The most demoralizing thing that a mentor can do
    to a child is lose not only their temper, but their faith in the
    child’s ability. 

  2. Everyone learns differently. If one way isn’t working, try again!

  3. Sometimes striving for perfection will lead to demise. Especially when working
    with very young children, having unrealistic expectations will
    frustrate everyone; the kids will lose hope, you will lose patients,
    and everyone will lose enjoyment. 

I love theatre, singing, dancing, and acting. My dream is to run my own
theatre company one day as a drama teacher at a high school. I love
the work I do with younger children, but I see a future working
primarily with young adults. My hope is that by helping young
children now, I can help to form a generation of good public speakers
who are unafraid to express themselves and have the courage to pursue
the arts in an economically concerned society. Looking forward many
years, I can see some of the kids I have helped now becoming teachers
of the art themselves, or maybe even going on to perform on a world
stage. I hope I have been able to enlighten the minds of the
incredibly talented youth I have been working with to a cultural
phenomenon that we share throughout the world. 

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