Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My time at St. Mary's

On September 26th I went to St. Mary’s to tutor middle school children for the first time in my life. I tried to do my best helping several kids complete their homework thinking I would learn better tutoring techniques by the end of the day. However, it opened my eyes to what St. Mary’s kids really go through each day of their lives. I went to a private middle school in a fairly wealthy area with very little racial diversity. Going to St. Mary’s made me realize how lucky I am the big difference I can make with a little bit of effort each week volunteering my time.

When I arrived and sat down at my table, children started filing through the door. It was hard not to notice the predominant number of African American children, and then suddenly, an Asian boy by the name of Kevin sat down at my table. Normally the children’s ethnicities would not have made a difference however, Kevin started being picked on. Kids were running up to him and poking his face yelling “chink cheeks.” To see this kind of behavior going on broke my heart and I immediately told them to knock it off.

Throughout helping my several students at the table another boy, Danny, was doing math problems and having a lot of trouble getting them right. While I was helping him, several other children pointed out that he was in third grade, yet was in a second grade math class. The boy, embarrassed, denied it, but the other kids took the liberty of proving it by comparing math books. I simply said it didn’t matter and several other things to help Danny feel less upset about his math level situation. It made me so upset to see kids treating each other this way. Luckily, I was brought up in a school that had a control. The fact that kids have to go through this everyday is a horrible way to live and even worse to learn with the constant distractions impairing their education. I was only there for a tiny part of the children’s day and cannot imagine how bad the bullying must get when no one is there to stop it.

One would think that by seeing these events take place I would have a negative perspective of the world after leaving St. Mary’s. However, this experience gave me more motivation to help out and volunteer my time to individuals who are in need. If I can make a difference in just an hour a week helping children not get picked on so that they can complete their homework, imagine what I can do with two hours, or even three. St.

Mary’s just confirmed Peter-Ham Kolvenbach’s talk about the Promotion of Justice ein Jesuit Education. He says you can’t really slack and as a Jesuit, but must go out and do everything you can to make the world a better place, which have begun my process of doing. I have been involved in community service, but a lot of it has been sheltered and selecting stopping me from getting the raw experience of service. This way, the feeling of accomplishment wasn’t as strong and the drive for service left soon after it was over. I had passion to do more after truly experiencing service at St. Mary’s and now I can see what Kolvenback was saying about being a true Jesuit and getting out in the world to make a difference. I can only look forward to my coming weeks at St. Mary’s to see what I can accomplish.

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