The service learning project experience that I had was enjoyable. I only regret not being there for the first two weeks. I had to leave for home the first Friday of the project and unfortunately missed our first week of lesson plans. Because I was incredibly excited I planned out everything for my group mates so it would not seem as if I was “slacking off” so to say. I remember that I would have felt partly responsible if I had not planned everything. So, as mentioned before, I have missed the first week and regretful missed the second week as well because of Hurricane Sandy. And just as I have done before, I planned the entire week. I was saddened at the fact that things did not go as plan because Sasha never came to the first meeting so my group were two people down. And for the second week we missed 3 group mates total and Matt was basically left stranded.
In the third week of this service learning project, I finally got my chance to meet the expectations that I had going into the Boys and Girls club. Initially, we read aloud Beauty and the Beast and I viewed that as a hassle. The club was incredibly loud, so I was thankful for Andrew’s booming voice because it allowed the kids to really hear the story. We also incorporated questions after every paragraph to prevent the jittering of the kids. At the end of the story, to keep the kids interested, coloring pages were handed out so they can see the theme that we were aiming for- what is truly important, is inner beauty. As we were reading, I understood something about teaching kids. Although it has to be planned, it also has to be planned in person. Just writing things and sending an email clearly did not work and I also noticed that after meeting and planning, the fourth week was more organized.
As mentioned before, week three did not go as smoothly as I thought it would. I thought the kids would need something tangible to hold as the story was read and without that, they would become uninterested and that is not the point of the service learning project. To counter that, I included a more hands on activity for the kids. I printed out a packet for the kids to work on which had a copy of the story, The Golden Key, a section for drawing and a word search including the themes/words from The Golden Key. For week 4, I really strived to teach the kids something so before going to the Club, I read The Golden Key several times and tried to figure out if there is any hidden messages within the story that I have yet to pick up on. I realized that there are. So after analyzing the story, I explained to the kids about my findings and they genuinely seen interested. I also noticed that one girl, who was in my group for week three, actually participated this time. See, during Beauty and the Beast, she seemed quite isolated from the group and I asked her why was that. She hardly ever responded and I felt determined to provide her with something she’d enjoy.
In the last week, I’ll refer to it as The Golden Key week, the packets were a hit. All of the kids enjoyed it this week and overall, I left the club feeling incredibly successful. As I walked out of the club last Friday, I thought of my overall experience. I remember being so determined to make progressively make it a better opportunity for the kids that I realized that I have planned everything. I do not regret doing so, but I now know that I put the responsibility on myself and I realize now that I became stuck in this leadership position. On nights like these were a presentation is due within 24 hours, and one group mate has never showed to assists in anything, it feels a bit stressful to have to recreate a visual representation of our four weeks.
Overall, the experience I had at the Boys and Girls club was incomparable to just another final. Honestly, a final would not have had a bigger impression on me as my experience in the Boys and Girls club. I think of it like this. A final is a piece of paper that could be graded a perfect 100%, but months later that paper would end up in the recycling bin, or just unthought-of. At least with this knowledge that I acquired from the Boys and Girls club, I know it will not diminish.