Summer of Service
This summer, I volunteered for the JCC program, “The Gift of Literacy and the Gift of Math.” This nonprofit program goes on all year, and takes place in uptown public schools in New York City. Each volunteer is assigned a child from the age of 6 to the age of 9. I was assigned a 9-year-old boy named Gabriel Lopez to work with this summer. I had worked with him all last year with the same program every Wednesday afternoon for two hours. This summer, seeing as I knew Gabriel fairly well, I was assigned to tutor him in Math again from 9:00-10:30, and in Literacy from 10:30-12:00 every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for five weeks. Gabriel is a very smart kid, especially in mathematics, but he has a behavioral problem because of that talent. He found the math exercises unnecessary because he had already mastered them, and on top of this, he was being forced to do them during his summer break. His bad behavior was also a result of his insecurity about his verbal abilities. The struggle to get Gabriel to work with me and enjoy it was both tough and fascinating. When I was able to get him to focus, he did amazing work. Watching him understand new things and prosper was one of the most rewarding things I’ve every experienced.
I chose the quote, “For Friends the Testimony of equality begins with the belief that the Light is present in us all. All are deserving of respect, no matter what our differences. When we respect the Light in ourselves and others, we encourage all to turn inward for guidance and truth.” -Friends Seminary Faith and Practice Handbook. In my work with this young boy, I upheld this value of seeing ‘that of God’ in him. I saw the equal intellectual potential that he had, and how amazing it was to be able to help him exercise that potential. In the moments where he had trouble understanding or behaving, instead of judging him, I was patient with him and respected him. I was able to guide him to use his talents by pushing him not to look at the things that he couldn’t do yet, but instead, focus on all that he’s accomplished in the past. This kind of recognition of one’s own achievements helps one boost one’s confidence in future endeavors.
Here are some pictures of Gabriel and me. Here is the link to applying for the program: http://www.jccmanhattan.org/attach/Volunteer_Registration_Form.pdf