My experience in my placement was very uplifting. I found it easy to connect with the students and my teacher made that experience even easier. The students helped me realize how much diversity id in the world. I meet people from Mexico, Somalia and other parts of the world. These students were around my age and were very smart. I volunteered with students that were learning to speak English and at the same time learn diverse topics of education. In the hour that I had with them every week we went over many of the basic scientific and biological material that is taught throughout high school and some middle school. I saw them learn many things about plants, like where they come from and what classifies a plant. Many of the students found this topic interesting while others needed some help from both the teacher and I. Many of the students already knew a lot about plants and how to plant them. However, they did not know what a plant needed to survive. The first thing that they did when I started to volunteer was to plant a seed and see what it needed to survive. They did this using the scientific method. They followed all seven steps to come up with a conclusion. They also had a control group and an experimental group. The topic that they had the most trouble with was classifying animals in their specific kingdom. They learned where the scientific names of animals came from and how they derived from both classifications of kingdoms. Another thing that we did was to go to the Rapson Museum here at the university. I found it interesting that the students had so many questions that they were wondering about. The volunteer that was there giving us the tour answered all of them very well.
Throughout my days at my volunteering site I noticed many things about the way that people are taught when they come from a different country. I, myself experienced this at first hand. I was born in Colombia and left to come live here and have been here since. I knew what these kids were going through and I knew that it was rough. Although I came at a young age I still remember how hard it was to try to communicate with other people when they don’t understand your language. So during class most of the time the students that were from Somalia, talked to each other in their native language while the Mexican kids talked in Spanish to each other. The room had three Spanish native speakers and the rest were from Somalia. I noticed that sometimes the teacher had a hard time trying to communicate or maintain order in the classroom while people were talking in different languages. I think that this mixture of culture is what makes this country what it is.
There were certain students that tried to connect with me more than others. They would always ask me to sit by them or ask me questions about the handout that they were doing. Luckily I took Biology classes in high school and knew most of the answers. They would ask me questions about the scientific method or about plants. I was surprised to see how much interest these kids had on the subject at hand. They were always curious and tried to make sense of the material by connecting it to material that they had already covered. There were two or three kids that always knew what they were doing. They never asked for my help in any of the subjects that we covered.
The thing that I found the most difficult was to get to know the students in a more personal level. It was hard for me to keep up with what they were doing and to continue what we had started. They always had a new topic that they were doing when I got there every week. It was difficult for me to know how much of the material they had already covered or what they already knew.
Overall, it was a great experience. The kids were great and it was nice to teach other people what I knew. It was also fun to see these kids in the same situation that I was back when I was younger. It was a really good experience and I hope to repeat it sometime in the future. While I had already done this in the past, it was certainly a different experience to do it with people from other parts of the world and different cultures.