During the last week of SOAR, the students made the tutors cards thanking us for working with them this semester. Working at SOAR for the past semester has given me a lot to think about. Initially I requested to work with fourth and fifth graders, but I never thought that I would be comfortable working with such young children. In the beginning of the semester I was very nervous because although I enjoy teaching, I do not like working with any children younger than high school age because I had a bad experience in the past teaching English to third graders in China. However, through SOAR, I was able to find greater comfort in teaching young children and have changed my perspectives on this.
SOAR has taught me how to have more patience working with young children, especially those who attend school in the United States and whose native tongue is a language other than English. I have greater appreciation for the efforts of elementary school teachers who work with these students in a learning environment where the native language is mostly used and there is a slow transition into English. SOAR has also helped me improve my speaking and comprehension of Spanish, especially in the context of understanding younger children and explaining things to them.
Although I do not think I will continue working with SOAR next semester due to time constraints, I will never forget about my experiences there. Over the course of the semester I have seen my student’s mathematical and reading abilities improve week after week, and it brings joy to my heart to see that she applies the tips I give her to make learning easier. Although it was a little awkward in the beginning to speak Spanish with her (for both of us), we eventually got very comfortable with one another – she always gave me a big hug even if I volunteered on a day that I usually do not tutor her on! Her card helped me see how I had made an impact in her life and how she was appreciative of me as well. We both made a positive impact on each other, and I know that I will always think of “mi mejor amiga” whenever I volunteer in the community in the future!