Our reflection for the week comes from Mary Sessions, a senior Psychology Major & Peace, Justice, and Human Rights and Exercise Science Minor!
“Open Mind, Open Heart, What if?” -unknown
This semester I have the opportunity to serve at Thomas Jefferson Newcomers Academy. So far, it has been such an awesome experience. This is a kindergarten through 12th-grade school in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for immigrants, refugees, and people new to the United States. The school exists to help students transition to school in a new country and to learn English. I am having the opportunity to tutor high school students in various subjects, specifically helping in a pre-algebra math class and a credit recovery study hall. It has been great to help the students with their classes and simply be with them and get to know them.
Each week so far, in the credit recovery class, I have worked with one student in particular as he is working on a virtual physical education class. For anyone this would be a challenge, add a language barrier and questions about random American games and sports, it's really been challenging. Through this experience of working together on the course and his assignments, I have been forced to be very adaptable. We take it week to week and I have realized how sometimes I need to explain things differently or to try again. We are both learning from each other. I have also learned that humor is universal and while we sometimes struggle to understand each other, we find ourselves laughing and joking.
After service, I talked to one of the teachers about how she teaches her classes with such a large language barrier between her and so many of her students. She gave great insight into the importance of being creative, being adaptable and patient, and how to work with the tools and gifts you have. All of the students are intelligent and learn in different ways and have different strengths as in any classroom, and you just have to be present.
I have learned to drop my expectations of people at the door and hold my ideals of learning to a new standard. Learning is not always linear and not always the same for everyone. I am really enjoying my service and grateful to CSSA for consistently helping me find new opportunities to learn, grow and serve!