by Lauren Dunoff, Newcomer Support Program Coordinator
My day begins with planning and preparing materials for this week's Newcomer Support Programs and sharing the lesson plans with the teachers and volunteers. I also correspond about some other fun upcoming things at Project Libertad, including our evening at a Philadelphia Union soccer game and inviting visitors to our summer camp program.
I then load my car with materials and drive to this afternoon's classes at Phoenixville Area High School. There, I meet our volunteer Courtney. We will see just over 30 students today, from countries including Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Thailand. Our activities today include making candy sushi, bird feeders, and a traditional Mexican craft called Ojo de Dios (Eye of God). We will also review some English language vocabulary about Spring.
The candy sushi activity is a big hit, and the students participate well with the vocabulary. The art projects take a little more persuading, especially in our all-boys' Healthy Masculinity Program. In the end, each student has made an Ojo de Dios and seems happy about it.
The highlights of my day include catching up with a student from last year's RISE girls' program who is now a junior, and I’m happy to hear she’s doing well. I also had a great conversation with one of our ninth-grade boys. He asked me why he has to take all of these classes, like English, Math, and Chemistry, when that isn't what he wants to do for a career. We discussed the ways education and learning English can benefit his future. With three more years of high school ahead for him with his caring teachers and mentors, I anticipate he will do well.
Opportunities to connect with the students in a positive way like this happen every day, and that is the best part of this job for me. I learn so much from the teachers I meet, as well as from the students. Being able to connect with and relate to people who grew up in cultures different from mine is a wonderful feeling. It motivates me to continue to learn Spanish, strive to listen to others, and have more meaningful conversations. I am truly grateful to know the students of Project Libertad and grow from these experiences.
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