Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – Knowledge is the Light

Name: Gavin Smith
From: Cincinnati, Ohio
Votes: 43


Forward – Scholarship Opportunity for Exemplary Volunteers

July 25, y

is the Light

Second semester of my first year at San Diego State University, I took a
class called
“The Human Journey Toward Evil or Hope,” to earn credits for my Honors
(Interdisciplinary Studies) Minor. My professor required all thirteen
members of the class to volunteer twenty-four hours, over the course
of the semester, to tutoring local refugee college or high school
students. For twelve weeks, two hours a week, I tutored Thai,
Somalian, Karen, and Syrian refugee students between the ages of
thirteen and eighteen at the nearby Crawford High School, through the
International Refugee Committee. In the library, after their school
day, I helped them with their English and mathematics homework, and
explained what they’d missed in class. Although I was unaware of
the volunteer component before registering for the class, I was not
daunted by the task of tutoring these students. In fact, I was
excited, I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps and teach English in
third world countries since high school — this volunteer work is
the perfect training for teaching across the world.

Despite the simple subjects, instructing was not always straightforward, for
learning is a process for both pedagogue and pupil; no matter how
well the teacher presents the information, it means nothing if the
student does not understand, nor apply, the material to their life.
My biggest challenge as a volunteer tutor was keeping the students
concentrated on their assignments. After seven hours of sitting in a
classroom, the last thing a student wants to do is more work,
especially when English is their second language, and they grew up
between refugee camps, without any proper education until the
present. However, I remained enthusiastic and focused on explaining
the information until the students understood, whether it were
grammar or multiplying fractions, we worked until they truly
understood the concept; nothing
more satisfying than reaching a solution, conclusion, realization
with a student.

From this volunteering, I’ve learned the American education system is flawed. Humans are not meant
to sit in a room for hours on end, being force-fed information. I
believe an interactive education system would much more constructive.
I’ve also learned I want to lead worldwide education reform. This
tutoring is my first of many teaching experiences, which compels me
to look forward to one day leading global education systems. I
believe “forward looking” is taking meaningful action today that
produce results tomorrow; which I exemplify through my volunteer
work. Not only do I help my students understand their assignments,
but I help show the material’s relevance to their lives, while
instilling leadership qualities such as positivity, perseverance,
compassion, respect, empathy, critical thinking, and the ability to
take action.

I realize that we as a species face many problems ahead of us
over-population, greed, lack of resources (water, oil, etc.), etc;
however, I have hope in the generations that proceed me. With
knowledge, effort, and synergy, we can save this earth and this


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