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Feb 27, 2008

I finally had the opportunity to return to my volunteer site last Wednesday, took me long enough. I had some difficulties getting in touch with the organization and a little trouble finding out how it would fit into my schedule. Now several weeks into the semester, I finally received a message from the Plymouth Christian Youth Center saying that I could come in any time I wanted.

First a little about the organization, the PYC is an alternative elementary and High School in North Minneapolis. It is located just off of Broadway, a thirty minute bus ride from the U. The students enrolled are mainly African Americans who live in the surrounding community. In the rather large building, there is space for a complete elementary school and a High School, including computer labs, a library, a gym, and office spaces. The people are what make it special. Ever since my first day there last semester I was immediately accepted by the staff and the students. There is so much love and patience in this building that it is hard not to be happy while you’re there.

I had the opportunity to work with the after school program. This included kinder-gardeners, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. It was my task to work with the students who stayed after school. We would do anything from read stories, color pictures, do homework, fold paper, watch movies, or play outside or in the gym. To be honest I wasn’t sure I was up for the task at first, but I was presently surprised at the challenges and rewards of working with the kids.

My last visit there was, yet again, a positive experience. I was surprised to find that some of the kids recognized me from last semester (that was over two months ago). It was defiantly rewarding to interact with those kids again. When I first arrived, I was a little disappointed to learn that this Wednesday was going to be like their Friday. I shortly found out that this was because the Minneapolis Public Schools had Thursday and Friday off this week. On these days they usually get out of their classrooms to play in the gym and watch a movie. Unfortunately, when they watch a movie there isn’t a lot for the volunteers to do so I usually end up leaving. However, this time there was a delay in the movie and we had some time to first hang out in their common area and then we went into the gym to play. These experiences have shown me how much you can learn from taking part in volunteer opportunities. Not only do you get the chance to interact with and help kids younger than yourself, but you have the valuable opportunity to learn life skills and really challenge yourself to do something actually worthwhile.