Saturday, May 27, 2017

Nothing Like A Day of Seeing An Extension of What You Believe In

 Because of a cancellation of an afternoon meeting, I had the privilege of visiting an after school Friday program called Project Hope, a two-school collaboration where ESL/refugee youth from a high school have spent a year mentoring ESL/immigrant elementary school students after school. The project, designed by Jessica Baldizon and William King, was an extension of the literacy work gained from Ubuntu Academy and spread to yearlong collaboration where young people were given opportunity to continue learning English, even beyond the classroom.

This year, on Friday afternoons, when everyone is ready to shut down the fort and head to weekend relaxation and calm, Jessica and William have offered after school tutoring for K-12 youth.

It was so great to see the 20 young people partnering on building vocabulary, conversation, and writing as the older kids worked one on one with the younger students. This was their vision, and although I was invited to come see the amazing partnership, I haven't have much freedom in my schedule. I finally found a second yesterday.

The kids were happy. They had snacks, exercises, and friendship with their older buddies as they practices reading, writing, and speaking in English. At one point, William went out to the hall and requested each speaker to speak loud enough so he could hear them outside the room. "I don't want you to be quiet and shy," he instructed. "Rather, I want you to be confident and loud."

I imagine that during the regular school days, these young people are often intimidated and apprehensive about speaking too much in class (so not to draw attention to themselves). Here, on a Friday afternoon, however, they could laugh, feel safe, and take changes.

This really is the power of community and support and I'm so proud of two of my favorite graduate students I've been fortunate to work with at Fairfield University. They've embraced Ubuntu, and they've done it with heart, mind, and soul. So, so proud.

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