As I signed up for classes last April for my second year of college, I clicked on a specific course that incorporated service-learning into it. Not knowing much about the requirements, the class itself sounded interesting: English Literacy and Language. However, the service-learning aspect required students to go to a local school and help tutor second graders with reading and writing. To me, it sounded interesting!
So, the first day came around for my class to attend Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, Conn. My peers and I were a little nervous, but we made sure that we were prepared. Our professor assigned two students per tutor. I happened to have a more challenging group with two best friends who liked to make jokes and not listen.
However, after all of the jokes and secrets were whispered, I happened to notice a difference in the boys. After about three sessions, I saw an improvement and me, being the type of person who absolutely lives off of improvements and seeing students excel in school, became so happy. I became happy because I was beginning to see a difference in their quickness to read certain words that they couldn’t read before. I saw a difference in their demeanor when they would see me. I was the tutor who loved them and let them laugh, but who also made sure that they got their work done. I gave them stickers and wrote notes of encouragement on their pieces of scrap paper that they used to practice. It was a rewarding feeling for all three of us.
I would come back to campus and quickly tell all of my friends what had happened in the 40 minutes that I was tutoring. Whether it was a bad session or a good one, I would reflect on it. In a way, I felt good after talking it through. I was able to pin-point the exact moments that needed work or how I should make a change at the next tutoring session. I would look forward to seeing the boys every two weeks and I knew that they felt the same way.
When it was time for us to go at the end of the semester, I told them I’d remember them. Then, I said, “Practice makes perfect guys, don’t forget that.” They laughed and said that they knew, but did they? Did they know how much practice makes someone more confident? I think that after I worked with them for two and half months, the idea of practicing and becoming a better person was instilled in them because it came from someone who understood and who was able to give them the type of attention that they needed.
I can say without a doubt that taking a service-learning course was beneficial to me. It truly opened up my eyes to the capabilities of young students who will strive one day because maybe you helped them. Who knows, maybe one day they will remember me and say, “Hey! That’s the person who helped me learn the word, ‘can.’” I told the boys that if they practice, they can achieve. I know that for a fact.
So, if you ever have the option to take a service-learning course that happens to be tutoring and helping a young student learn the word, “can,” take it! You really won’t regret it.