This summer, I interned at the GO Project in Brooklyn. There, I was an assistant teacher to underprivileged and underperforming kindergartners. Additionally, I participated in daily social justice conversations with my fellow interns at the program. I saw first hand the importance of early intervention in the education of children who are underperforming. Educational equity is something that is not talked about nearly enough. Too many children of color are disadvantaged by white-favored systems in our public school system. Students of color statistically are much less likely to succeed in school, particularly in early education. This summer, I was proud to say that I did as much as I could to try and close that gap. I worked individually with students, reading with them or solving math problems with them. I especially learned how hard it is to be a teacher, and how much teachers matter to a productive schooling system. Too many teachers are not paid enough for their efforts, and again, this was something I learned about first hand this summer. This summer taught me a lot about myself and my community, and how important early educational equity is for every child to succeed in his or her life.
Over the summer, I volunteered at the Hoboken Senior Center. For an hour a day (for the days I was available), I worked to prepare meals, set up dining rooms, clean closets, and get a chance to talk to some of the seniors who go to the center often. Although I didn’t get to volunteer for as long as I would have hoped to, I was able to talk to the seniors and form good bonds with my co-workers and even the seniors themselves. Cosmo was one of the directors of the center, and I talked to him the most out of anyone. He came to Hoboken from Italy when he was seven years old, is a die-hard Juventus fan, and an all-around great guy. When I finished my summer service on September 4th, he organized a ‘going away’ ceremony for me (with the seniors), and they got me a baseball cap and sweatshirt! I was truly stunned at the number of seniors who thanked me for my work over the summer. I had an incredible experience volunteering there, and I promised them I’d be back whenever I had the chance.
My attitude to the issue of education of immigrants has definitely become stronger, as I have had the time to really dive deep into the subject matter. I had the chance to talk to immigrants who have received a scholarship through The Dream.US and was truly moved by their experience.
I remain engaged in this issue because I will be sending the signed documents that we presented in our presentation to Dreamers all over the United States, and we plan to stay in contact with the Dream.US.
I truly enjoyed my time taking part in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, and I really hope to stay engaged in the issue of education for all.