memories of volunteering

so just finished volunteering at this summer academic program for local underprivileged kids who don't have the resources for a good education during the school year & my job now is to write a reflection on it - i thought listing would help but i also just miss it lots so i thought i should share :)
  1. the kids were the cutest
    there's this lil mush named Ludwin who falls down a lot and claims it's because he's still getting used to his human legs after years as a sandwich walking on his sandwich corners...apparently he has sandwich brothers and sisters all over the world, "even in Asia"
  2. part 2
    another lil mush named Jack was this perpetually smiling kid who told us that he just wanted to make people laugh by saying silly things! i had a secret handshake with him, and he liked to turn my baseball backwards and say "oh look, it's cool izzy!" also, when my friend, a fellow volunteer, rolled onto the ground when he got tired, jack came over, stood above him and observed, "he needs some milk!" then walked away. amazing.
  3. it's incredible how much kids can grow in just a couple weeks
    we talked a lot about leadership the first week, and by the second week i was seeing this shy kid (also named Jack) speak up during drama and volunteer to present his final history project third. plus, during english, a girl named sam had clearly taken the lead during a conversation, but at one point stepped back and said, "actually i've kind of talked a lot during this discussion, so if you guys want to go you can!" i loved seeing her exemplify what we said about how leadership takes listening
  4. it's in the little things
    super cliché, but nothing made me happier than having Ludwin request 5+ goodnight hugs - each accompanied by the insistence that this would be the last one! - when we did a campout on the last day. or when Josh got super excited about the categorization of rocks. or when Angel cleaned up other people's plates that had been left on the table after lunch.
  5. it's nice to feel needed
    this is, i think, a more selfish part of volunteering, but when another volunteer, or even a kid, would approach me to specifically request my help with a particular student, i felt like i was really an integral part of the program. especially because the program is only in its first year, it was so exciting to feel like i was playing a valuable role to both my peers and my students.
  6. the importance of the other volunteers
    beautiful people. we worked so well together, and i loved seeing our team grow alongside the kids. the other volunteers are all people i go to school with, so it was both refreshing to see old faces in a new light and super cool to meet new people who id never really met but got along with tremendously well. i go to a pretty small school, and its not often that i meet new people from there, so its good to remind myself that theres always more to unearth from the school ive been to my whole life.
  7. rob
    there was one guy in particular, rob, who is actually one of my best friend's younger brothers but who i never got the chance to get to know. we were fast friends, and he could always make me laugh until i cried, but he was also unfailingly kind, generous, and honest. i struggled a lot with loneliness this past year, and am grateful for someone who im both comfortable with and in awe of- he is incessantly compassionate and good to his core. i have the utmost respect and admiration for him.
  8. my favorite day
    was the second to last day, which also happened to be rob's birthday. we all made him a card, which we surprised him with during the morning meeting - he was so touched that he teared up, and later, some of the kids surprised him (and us all!) with their own gifts. but the best part was that i was with the kids for the whole day. i attended every single class with them, and it was amazing. usually, the volunteers take turns with the classes, but i was so glad i did all of them because the kids
  9. continued!
    are truly the heart and soul of the program and i just loved seeing them in action. in many aspects of life, i think you get out of things what you put into them, and this was no different. the most rewarding day, one of the most productive, and certainly the one where i got the most facetime with the kids.
  10. it genuinely changed my ideas about my life plan
    i've worked with kids before - i've tutored & been a counselor, and done art/music/sports with kids from an underfunded public school in brooklyn. and though it was fun and i was pretty good at it, i hadn't seriously considered the idea of working with kids for a career. when the head of the program mentioned to me in passing that i should think about becoming a teacher, i took it to heart. just these two weeks were so gratifying that i may want to work with kids in some capacity when im older
  11. looking ahead
    im super lucky to have been part of this program in its first year, but the director's plan is to expand it to a six-week program that kids commit to for the summer before sixth grade and continue through the summer before ninth grade, maybe even until college. it's humbling and inspiring to think of our aspirations: pushing these kids to reach their potential as first-gen college grads & successful professionals but also as kind, enthusiastic, confident people.
  12. I love these kids, and I love our mission. I want to go to these kids' graduations, teach their younger sisters and brothers, watch them return to speak at the program once they've become adults, sustain this connection. my gratitude toward all the people who made this happen is limitless. ❤️