For the past month now, I’ve been helping the catechism classes at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, volunteering as a kind of “teacher’s assistant” during classes that prepare the Spanish-speaking kids of the community to receive their First Communion, a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church. I decided to use this opportunity as my “trabajo en la comunidad” for a few reasons. I am Catholic and my faith is very important to me- I think that’s pretty important for a religious education teacher! I also live at the Newman Center so I only have to walk downstairs every Saturday morning to get to work. Plus, my freshman year of college, I also worked with the catechism classes, doing pretty much the same thing except with a different teacher. I enjoyed it very much and I knew what I could expect for class this year!
So far the semester has been going well- the only thing is that I didn’t get started until later in the semester and I also had to miss two weekends of volunteering for various reasons, so I have to make up some hours. But I’m hoping that as I continue to work with the kids, I’ll get to know them better on a personal level and they’ll feel more comfortable with me. As the teacher’s assistant, I haven’t had too much work to do- during class I’ll pass out papers, try to engage the kids in the discussion by asking them questions, calm the students down when they start to act up, read, sing songs, and help them learn certain prayers. Some of my favorite moments are when I’ve gotten to take a little more responsibility over the class. For example, the first week of class the teacher, Maestra Patty, asked me look over the workbook that we use and plan an activity. Another week, Patty had to leave class early and so I was in charge of the class! Of course, there were other teachers around working with other classrooms if I needed any help, but I felt confident with my students as we watched a movie about trusting in the Lord and talking about what they learned from it afterward.
I’m enjoying the class but I definitely have some goals for the rest of the year (the classes are a year-long commitment): I would like to get to know each student better so that we feel comfortable with each other, I would like to be able to plan more activities with the kids, and more than anything, I hope that I can be a good example of a Catholic-Christian woman for them so that in the future they will be, too.