The following was written by AHA Senior Samantha Biltz '15 as a culminating project to her Campus Ministry team Service Learning course.
"Good afternoon!" chimes the lady at the security desk as I walk into the building. Inside, everything seems slightly smaller; the drinking fountains and table tops are lower, the chairs are smaller. The walls and floors are covered with values and encouragements such as respect or determination. The most memorable is "Conocimiento es poder," which translates to "Knowledge is power." The building is Richfield Middle School, where I will spend the next hour tutoring struggling students.
Each and every Wednesday, I trek on over to Richfield Middle School after school and walk up to their media center. When I arrive, there are usually 3-7 kids there waiting along with their youth resources teacher, Jose. I say hello to the kids and talk about their day for a few minutes before reviewing their grade report for the day. Together, we highlight the missing assignments and then we get to work. Our main goal is to have them all up-to-date with their various assignments, as many of the students are failing purely due to missing assignments. Throughout the next hour, we work together on everything from language arts to math and science. When the bell rings, dismissing the students to catch their afternoon bus, we say our goodbyes and walk out of the media center, until next week.
This act of service is very important to me for several reasons. Easily, one of the most significant is its integral part on my participation on Campus Ministry Team (CMT). Service is one of the three branches of CMT, and it helps to remind me of how fortunate I am to have been born intelligent and to have the opportunity to receive a well-rounded, quality education. Additionally, this service allows me to spread the AHA way to students outside of AHA. I feel I am able to live out the mission and values of AHA by communicating you matter and helping others to succeed. While I am serving, I really try to communicate to the kids that their performance and their grades matter and that how they are doing and their own personal drive for success is important. Additionally, I try to help with their academics, teaching them how to find an answer within the text on their own or how to better understand a concept in math. I strive to live up to the legacy of AHA and CMT by doing everything I can to help the students and to serve them to the best of my ability.
Through this service, I've developed a new perspective into the lives of middle school students, specifically first and second generation immigrants trying to maneuver their way through the public school system. Most importantly, I've learned that these students do not lack intelligence, they are not incapable of understanding their school work, nor is there much of a language barrier. Moreover, the students are not necessarily even lazy or unwilling to do their work, they simply just lack encouragement and motivation. They want to do well, and they are capable of it, they just need someone, like myself, to sit down with them and guide them to success.
In essence, this service fits perfectly into the AHA way, specifically helping others to succeed and communicating you matter. When I work with the children, I hope I am living out both of these values. Additionally, I try to remember how having a tutor would have affected me when I was in middle school and the appreciation I still have today for others when they help me with my struggles. This service has been very impactful on my life and truly reminded me how fortunate I am as well as given me a new perspective on struggling students.