These two days were like many others, long and tiresome yet rewarding. We all had different plans and went our separate ways (in pairs). After last Friday we were all much more familiar and comfortable with the concept of shadowing, and we knew what to expect. However the days were still unpredictable and challenging. Many of us started off around 6:45 in the morning and did not end until around 8:00 at night. On Tuesday and Wednesday a few of us had experienced the special-ed. class that the center offers; a few went over to the other center; and a few of us enjoyed gym class right in our own backyard. Once again most of us found that our experiences with the students benefited us as much as they benefited them.
In the special-ed. class our experiences were difficult and rewarding all at the same time. One of the students, named Bryan, was around seven or eight and could not even talk that well. Another, Armando, had been a very quiet kid outside the classroom, but they were able to make him open up and actually do work like counting and learning body parts. These kids despite all their set-backs and struggles were the happiest bunch of kids around. They were so excited by our presence in the class.
Over the past two days, many of us have made our way over to the Marin center downtown. Although we have all had varying experiences as a result of shadowing different volunteers, all who have gone to Marin seem to have had similar experiences. The courtyard at Marin is well-known for the piggy-back-rides that we've given, for the volunteer vs. student soccer games, and for the exhausting yet fufilling hours of play-time.
Overall, the past two days can be summarized in a few sentences. We've all had our own separate experiences, but there are common elements in all that we do here. Our hard work in the class rooms, on the soccer fields, and throughout the centers has revealed to us genuine joy and hope in these children. After witnessing the Barrios and becoming aware of all of those people's hardships, it is important for us to recognize the potential in these kids. With every smile that we give, every laugh that we cause, and every lesson that we teach, we are reminded of the purpose of our service here.
By: Tom Tulp and Kevin Cevasco