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28 de Abril 2008

Community Service Highlights

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“As with all children, the feeling that I was useful was perhaps the greatest joy I experienced.�
-Eleanor Roosevelt


Imagine a 3 year-old boy, about 3 feet tall, clad in flip flops, shorts, and a T-shirt, a big grin across his face, running at you with apple flavored Fig Newtons smeared all over his face, mouth, and hands, trying to give you a hug. For me, it is moments like these that let me know that my involvement in the community really is meaningful.

People become involved in their communities for many different reasons—for a sense of giving back to their community, self-accomplishment, cultural diversity, improving and learning new skills, and an overall love of people. Although Architecture 1701 has a mandatory service requirement, I believe in giving back to the community and providing love and support to those in need and felt as though CommonBond Communities allowed me to do just that.

Through CommonBond Communities at Skyline Tower as a Pre-K Literacy Group volunteer, I was given the opportunity to not only work in a fun, welcoming environment, but also to learn about other cultures, improve my communication skills, and help the cutest 3 year-old kids learn the English alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and words.

A typical afternoon at the Pre-K Literacy Group consisted of a series of educational games and activities. The program, running from 2 to 3 pm, usually began with playing with alphabetical blocks with the kids, followed by stamping the alphabet into Play-Doh with oversized rubber stamps or practicing writing the alphabet. Next, we completed the tasks on the “Everyday Board,� a white board covered by a magnetic alphabet, pictures of the primary and secondary colors and shapes, and a written set of letters and numbers which the kids were told to recite. Unlike kids’ usual lack of attention span, the kids were actually really engaged and excited to learn. Following the “Everyday Board� the kids picked out books for us to read on the oversized pillows and beanbags, and the hour ended with cleaning up the room and singing and dancing to songs such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.�

Although the everyday activities are educational and fun, the most enjoyable afternoon of my experience at Skyline Tower was the day we went outside and played on the playground with the kids. We brought out boxes of colored chalk and drew pictures and hopscotch on the blacktop. After one boy noticed the swings and made a run for them, the other kids noticed them, too, and followed him over there. We each took turns swinging the kids and tried teaching them how to pump their legs. Next, the kids took to the playset—climbing on the bars, sliding down the poles, twisting down the slide, and playing hide-and-seek. As I mentioned earlier, the best part of the day, in addition to the sunny weather, was the kids running around with the apple flavored Fig Newtons that we handed out to them smashed all over their faces, mouths, and hands. It was great to see how appreciative and happy the kids were of a simple snack.

I love working with kids, and I felt the Pre-K Literacy Group was a perfect match for me. The kids really took to the volunteers and looked up to us as role models. In addition to exposing me to other people and cultures, Skyline Tower allowed me the opportunity to teach appreciative and willing 3 year-olds how to read and write, a skill most kids take for granted. I really did enjoy teaching and playing with the kids, and I will definitely recommend volunteering at CommonBond Communities to other students, as well as, taking service-learning courses.

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