Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2018 – A Child’s Perspective

Name: Sashrika Pandey
From: Fremont, California
Grade: 10
School: Irvington High School
Votes: 0

My
most vivid memory of my time spent volunteering was a conversation I
had with a group of the students and some idling volunteers. The
chairs were stacked, a majority of the children had left, and I had
finished my allotted hours for the day. And yet, I stayed there with
this eclectic group of people, and we discussed obscure topics as the
lights slowly flickered off. It is odd imagining that I can return to
the same place and never experience the same awe that I had in that
very moment, where I realized that I had come to teach others, but
had left learning more about myself than I had expected.


In
my freshman year of high school, I quickly signed up to volunteer at
an afterschool program for children, where I would grade homework and
tutor the students. My reasoning was shrouded in a vague enjoyment
for teaching and an urgency to finish my community service hours.
Every Monday, I would arrive at the building and walk past peeling
yellow walls to a set of classrooms. I would help elementary school
children with basic math and English, later moving onto middle school
students with slightly more complicated assignments. As staff
scurried down the narrow halls, I would peer over children’s
shoulders and struggle to simplify concepts that I considered
rudimentary and stifle my apathy as the clock slowly ticked on.

The
largest hurdles were the menial tasks that I began with. I could
often hear the older children in other rooms discussing complex
reading assignments, and wanted to jump in and provide my two cents.
Meanwhile, I was surrounded by the fine literature of Dr. Seuss and
worksheets with smudged answers. Working with younger children did
have its perks, however. I could spend twenty minutes explaining the
reasoning behind a simple reading question, but the look of
comprehension on the child’s face was incredibly reassuring. Such
clarity is what caused me to return week after week. As the sessions
passed, I began to learn more about these young children who all had
fascinating stories to tell. We could begin discussing their art
project and end with an in-depth review of their last vacation. I
found their perspectives to be utterly fascinating – events that I
found to be dull and commonplace were utterly captivating to these
children.

As
I spent more time with the students, racking up one hundred hours at
the end of my volunteering sessions, I learned more about myself than
I expected to. I would look back and analyze the lulls of my day and
find something that I hadn’t considered before. I began to see
things in a new light – one without my past precautions and
cynicism. I went into that

building every week, expecting to help some elementary school
children with their homework. But a few hours later, I would leave
with the type of knowledge that you can only get from a child’s
perspective.


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