Monday, May 9, 2011

Student Reflection

by Hanna Perhai

Hello, once again! Now, unfortunately, for the last time.

The semester has flown by, especially my time in Spanish in the Community. I'd just like to close the semester with some highlights from my experience with S.O.A.R.

My favorite thing, by far, has been getting to know my student. Over the months, I've learned how he learns best, where his strengths lie, and what he likes to do. I know that mental math is not his strong suit, but he almost always gets the right answer if he just writes out the problem. He reads very well in both Spanish and English, but he understands the story better if he reads it in Spanish.
We got the chance to read through a substantially long book in Spanish about Bambi. This was one of the best parts of my time with my student. We switched reading every page so that he would get practice reading a difficult book, and then I got practice reading out loud in Spanish. I honestly think that if a person were to listen to us both reading aloud, they would think we were at the same reading level! But it was excellent practice for us both, and we were able to bond over a common love for Disney.

So, there have been really rewarding experiences for which I'm truly grateful, but that's not to say it's all been fun and easy. I know I've outlined some challenges in previous posts, but this week, during my last day volunteering, I probably faced my biggest one.
I feel like everyone that is volunteering for other organizations, like the Refugee Center, has more difficult situations to deal with. All I have to do is talk to kids who don't care if I make mistakes or don't know all the words. Yesterday, however, I was doing some extra hours and helping some of the S.O.A.R. kids, including my student, take a survey for Abriendo Caminos. I stayed until all of the students were picked up after school except for mine, whose family wasn't showing up. So I was left with my student and the non-Spanish-speaking director of the program.
Long story short, I was expected to call my student's parent and make sure she was going to be able to pick him up. I understood very little of what she was saying, but I did my best to relay the message. I honestly do not feel like I did a good job at all. However, it's a learning experience, and it was definitely good practice, so I don't regret having the opportunity to make a fool of myself on the phone. :)

Along with these challenges, I've seen the need in the community for good education and interaction with these kids, and it's become a cause very special to me. Next semester, I'll be studying abroad in Spain, but I plan to continue to volunteer with S.O.A.R. upon my return in the spring. Now, if you remember, I had three goals I wanted to complete this semester, which I wrote about in my very first post:
  1. Become more comfortable with Spanish. Well, I still have a long way to go, but I definitely feel that I've made lots of improvements with my speaking skills. I'm now more willing to talk in Spanish in public, when before, even that was a feat.
  2. Make a difference. So, I know that I can't change someone's life drastically through two hours a week, but I know that my being there every week to work with my student had an impact. I might not see it explicitly, but I still feel like I've done something for the community.
  3. Have fun! I definitely did this. :) Sometimes it was stressful, but overall, working with S.O.A.R. was a blast.
Okay, so this was a lot longer of a post than I was planning on writing. But it's the last one, so I figure that's fine. I'm so grateful for the experience to use my Spanish in the community, and I hope to keep using it for years to come!

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