The following was written by AHA Senior Josh Mikos '17 as a trimester-end project in his Campus Ministry team Service Learning course.
Because we have a total of 15 minutes from when school ends to get to our service site, I had to hurry out of 7th hour. Once I got to the the Middle School, I walked through a big crowd of kids socializing while they waited for the bus. I made my way into the media center and was stunned. Before conferences we had maybe 8-10 kids at most, filling maybe three tables. This time they were all full. Parent teacher conferences had just happened and some students were now required to attend tutoring because of failing grades or copious amounts of missing work. I spent my time that day working with a boy I had helped before. First I helped him make a converted English to Spanish map, then I helped him with fractions, percentages and decimal conversions. Once we finished those, I helped him get his schoolwork organized because he has had a problem of losing his work in the past. I walked with him on our way out and he showed me the kind of music he liked and what he does in his spare time. Some of the best parts of service comes from the friendships you make.
I do this service for many reasons. I'm not just doing this because it’s a requirement. Being a part of Campus Ministry Team does require more hours than the rest of AHA's student body but it also fosters an actual desire to do the service in its students. CMT students want to make a difference and one of the best ways to do that is through service. One of my favorite things about service is that Ican see the impact of your work. In my case, one of the most satisfying things about my weekly service is when I get to see something click in a student's head. It's a feeling of pure satisfaction when I can see that I haven't just led the student through the process towards the answers, but that the student has actually picked up on the process and can now do it themselves. I feel that the only way someone can really understand this feeling is having a moment like this themselves and it is something I highly recommend.
The process started with me contacting the Vice Principal and figuring out dates. We decided on after school every tuesday from 2:55 to 3:55. When we get there, the kids are already sitting at the tables in the media enter. The majority of them have already started their work but a few are still procrastinating and socializing. Normally when they need our help, they raise their hand but sometimes we have to approach students individually when we notice they aren't making good progress. We assist them with anything we can. Most often this encompasses organization and classwork. I find helping them with their schoolwork generally easy; the only class that gives me trouble is Spanish. Fortunately for me, many of these children are already fluent Spanish speakers so they don't have trouble in this class often. Sometimes we stay late because some of these kids are very far behind in their workloads.
Working at this site has opened my eyes to the variance in culture over extremely short distances. Richfield Middle School presents a diverse demographic rich with bilingual people. It has also given me insight into the public school system that I have avoided for the majority of my life. I have learned about some of the issues faced by staff of public schools, and I have seen the effects of budgeting. I have also learned a lot about the demeanor of public school students, some of whom seem to hold education lower on their list of priorities than I would personally recommend. This service has added a lot to my perspective.
In the second letter of Titus, verses 7-8, it says, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” This is the core of all the service I do in my life. In Guatemala I did everything I could to set a great example to the children of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos or NPH. When we serve, we want to encourage the people we help to help others. The best way I see to do that is to affect their lives in a profound or positive enough way that they feel obliged or encouraged enough to continue the work. This is one of my overall goals and what I try to do every week at Richfield Middle School.