Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – A New Perspective

Name: Johnathan Tran
From: Austin, Texas
Grade: 12th grade
School: University of Texas - Austin
Votes: 0

Johnathan Tran

A New Perspective

I grew up with one sister who was only a year younger, so I didn’t
have much experience in dealing with kids. Actually, since their
attention span was so amazingly short and it was so difficult to hold
a conversation with them, I didn’t care much for kids. In past
years, when I’d volunteer for Vacation Bible School at my church, I
resented being stuck with helping to teach them. I didn’t feel like
there was value in teaching children things that they’d probably
forget by the day’s end. In the summer of 2013, I started
volunteering at the Harris County Public Library, and my whole
perspective changed.

I was assigned to help my librarian prepare crafts for the children’s
activity program, two hours a week. For me, it was a rather strange
experience working with the kids. I wasn’t really sure how to
communicate with them. They hadn’t experienced what I’d
experienced so we couldn’t really relate that way. And on top of
that, usually everything they said made little to no sense.

But as the year rolled on, I eventually realized that I didn’t even
have to try to initiate conversation. They were the ones coming up to
me, with random questions or comments on the projects that I’d work
on every week. I remember one time I was creating a poster based off
the popular
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and this little boy in glasses sat down next to me. His name
was Arnold.

For lack of a better description, Arnold was kind of like one of those
TVs that you lost the remote to and couldn’t turn off. He rambled
about the book series for a while, and everything was fine until
Arnold decided to point out imperfections in my artwork. A little
annoyed, I explained that the “imperfections” he noticed were
just part of my drawing style. In response, he questioned me about my
technique. So I showed him which markers I used in different areas,
how I drew the character to create symmetry, and the way I shaded to
create realistic shadows. Interestingly enough, I ended up talking to
Arnold for another thirty minutes. Although we’d never met before,
I still felt proud that I had the opportunity to impart some of my
artistic knowledge with someone else. At long last, his mother showed
up and dragged Arnold away, apologizing to me on his behalf. “It’s
fine,” I replied, smiling. And it really was.

That half-hour chat had opened my mind to a new perspective. Before, I had
thought of kids as sort of a burden, but I realized then just how
wrong I’d been. Maybe the best thing I could do for children was to
teach them something new and interesting. My time at the library
helped me to understand that. Because of one little kid, I learned
the importance of giving back knowledge to a society that had given
me the gift of education in the first place.

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