Today was much different than my first day. We met up with the kids at the beginning and helped them with homework for about fifteen minutes, but then we had a few speakers come in to talk to the kids. One of them was a woman who gave violin lessons. She showed a YouTube video made by two America’s Got Talent winners who played violin, and the kids really liked it. Afterwards she asked if anyone wanted to take lessons, and lots of the kids raised their hands. Another woman, a drama teacher, came in to talk about acting and how much fun it can be. She took volunteers to read scripts and acted out a small skit for us. The kids thought she was really funny. After all this, we went to the computer lounge because the kids had to take placement tests on the computer. They had to take a math test and a reading comprehension test, and it basically took the whole two hours to do it. Because it was a test, we weren’t able to sit down and help kids out; instead myself and the other mentors just walked around to make sure the kids were doing what they were supposed to.
Something interesting happened today. Ralph, a fun, small fourth-grader, must have had a really bad day for some reason, because he came in and went directly to a corner of the room and sat down on the floor. Any attempts at communicating with him or sitting next to him were met with silence. Mrs. Rose tried a few times to get him to participate, but he just didn’t do anything. She asked me to see if I could see what was wrong, because she had to talk to the rest of the class. It gave me some perspective of what Mrs. Rose has to deal with on a daily basis, and really made me realize how much not only MOMs, but other organizations truly need volunteers. There is simply no way to reach every kid with just one teacher standing in front of the classroom. With tutors and volunteers, the kids have more opportunities to feel noticed and get help on a personal, individual level. I talked to Ralph about how it was all up to him how his day went—he could choose to have a good day, or he could choose to have a bad day. I wouldn’t tell him which to choose; it was all up to him. I was, of course, met with silence, but slowly throughout the ladies’ presentations, he moved from his corner to a front seat with the other kids.
I was slightly discouraged because it didn’t seem like any of the kids even remembered me from the first day. I know they did on some level, but today at least it seemed like they didn’t really care about having us there. That was, at least, my experience. Part of me is truly wondering how difficult it will be to develop meaningful relationships with these guys. But it’s only week two, so it’s pointless to come to any conclusions at this point. I’m here to help these kids, and if I can, that’s great. If they don’t want my help for some reason, at least they know I’m here and I’m willing. That’s one of the things we’ve talked about in class that I think really hits home with kids. For example, even though Ralph didn’t respond when I tried to talk to him, he knew that I was there for him if he needed me. Eventually he came out of whatever funk he was in and began participating. It’s so important to be content with simply being there.
We’ll see how next week goes!