During our final week in West End, Lauren, Jarrett, and I helped out at Urban Kids. Every day we tutored several children at a time in reading, writing, and math. Although I have enjoyed all of my experiences during this Exploration Term, I have to admit that working with the children every day this past week was one of my favorite parts of the month.
Teaching and playing with the kids reminded me of the importance of creativity and enthusiasm in both academic and social environments. I was so impressed by their desire to work with us on their fractions and division, scarcely complaining if I decided to throw in some extra math problems “for fun.”
I thoroughly enjoyed playing “Wax Museum” and other made-up games with them; their ability to take whatever resources are available to them to create entertainment led me to reminisce about the days when my friends and I would play hide and seek or crocodile hunter, using only our imaginations (and maybe some sticks we’d find lying in the grass). Together we crossed the molten lava jump rope and fashioned fantastical creatures out of clay. I think one of the things I gained most from spending time with the kids was the reminder of the freedom that comes with using your imagination. That sounds corny, I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
At several points during this January journey, I have found myself feeling discouraged and dejected by the daunting reality of all the complexities of poverty. The energy I experienced from the children at Urban Kids—whether inspired by the newly remodeled library, the field trip they took this week, or Jarrett’s parakeet Buddy—rejuvenated my spirit after an intensive and exhausting three weeks. They reminded me of why I chose this exploration term: to build relationships and get to know the surrounding communities so that I could find out what I could contribute to them, but even more so, what I could learn from them.
In my coming years at BSC, I hope to remain involved with the Bunting Center and to maintain my relationship with Urban Ministries and the West End community.