Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – People Not Problems

Name: Julia Hall
From: Council Bluffs, Iowa
Grade: 12
School: Duchesne Academy
Votes: 0

Thursday mornings of my senior year were undoubtedly the best part of my week. That’s when I got
to be with my favorite 19 kindergarteners in the entire world. My
high school made the decision this year to reserve a specific class
period for seniors to do volunteer work of their choosing, if they so
pleased. The allotted time gave me just an hour with my students –
not long enough in my opinion.

I assisted the teacher in preparing lessons and tutored individuals. The students don’t come
from just any background, in fact they come from too many to count.
The school in which I worked serves primarily refugee and low-income
Hispanic families. It often frustrated me as I struggled to
communicate with certain students due to the dual-lingual education
and my lack of Spanish knowledge, but I owed it to each of them to
try. In fact, I realized after a few weeks, that I was picking up
some basic Spanish skills. The hardships already faced by those 5 and
6 year olds are more than most Americans experience in a lifetime,
yet they arrived each day with wide smiles and attentiveness. That is
precisely why I choose to work there. However, I never expected just
how much they would move me. I’ve met some of their families and
listened to their stories. They don’t need pity, they simply want
understanding and acceptance.

Although none of this has anything to do with my projected career in business,
it’s still something I care deeply about. At a time when
immigration is such a political hot-topic, nothing pains and worries
me more than to think about children, ones just like my students, who
may never find themselves in a school or community that cares so much
about their education and well-being. I wish all people could look at
immigrants this way – not as a mere problem, but as actual human
beings with real worth. That is my dream for the years to come. To
me, forward-looking is to recognize this better future and to
actively work towards it. Perhaps, in some way, I’ve done that in
one small way or another.

I won’t pretend that one hour a week with these kindergarteners will
change much for them. If I were to again walk through those school
doors decades from now, I doubt anyone would remember me, but I’m
okay with that. I didn’t fix whatever situation the students and
their families are in or solve the refugee crises of the world. So
what? I’m just one person. I don’t know the answers to those
problems and I’d be lying if I said I did. What I do know is this:
I did something and that’s a start. Maybe just maybe, I brought a
smile to one refugee child’s face or made their day somehow. We
need more people to do even just that. The world would already be a
far better place because of it.

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