January 4, 2018
Becoming a mentor in my home-city of South Jamaica, Queens
In my daily work as an AmeriCorps volunteer organizer with Reading Partners I am able to see the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” come to life. We engage with the students, school administrators, residents, and organizations within the community to provide literacy training and mentoring to students in need of extra support. I am grateful to have grown up and now serve in the community of South Jamaica, Queens, that has given me so much.
Growing up in my household, education was a top priority—particularly the ability to read and write. My parents immigrated to the United States from Guyana, in hopes of offering my brothers and I opportunities that they did not have.
I took their sacrifices to heart and viewed books as a gift. I borrowed loads of books from the library and got lost in the pages.
A book’s smell and feel still has a profound impact on me to this day. Those sensations remind me of the meaningful role models in my life who have shown me how reading opens doors to new possibilities.
Sharing my passion
I first became involved with Reading Partners as a volunteer at an elementary school ten minutes away from my home. This opportunity offered me a venue to share my passion for reading with the youth in my neighborhood. A passion passed to me by my mentors.
After some time, I was able to work my way up to becoming a literacy intervention tutor. I was fortunate to have an understanding site coordinator who helped guide me along the way as I grew more deeply involved with supporting students’ in their reading education.
The structured curriculum is a major strength of the Reading Partners program (it’s specific and surprisingly easy to follow) and helped me feel confident in my ability to be an effective tutor. Furthermore, I was able to track my students’ progress to the end of the term, witnessing their growth and honing on their struggles.
Even more fun, I got to learn along with my students about insects, the solar system, and farming.
I love this work because I am positioned to encourage youth, improve their self confidence, and push them to follow their dreams.
Everyday, I am reminded that, together, we can make a difference.
I have grown so much in just a short time in my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer organizer for Reading Partners in New York City. The position has provided opportunities to broaden my horizons and learn new skills through experiences in public speaking and leading interviews with prospective interns. In addition, I’ve made new connections and grown my network of individuals who are also dedicated to a career in education reform.
It’s hard to describe the incredible sense of pride that comes with supporting the staff and students at the very elementary school where I was enrolled years ago!
In the coming months I am eager not only to aid with the development of young leaders, but cultivate my professional development skills, learn from my peers, and innovative ideas to increase volunteer recruitment in my home-city of New York. All thanks to the Reading Partners program.