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Service-learning provides students with opportunities to develop civic engagement skills. I believe by working with community members, students or anyone can enhance their group, organizational and interpersonal skills. They also can gain important experience working with diverse members of their communities. For my service learning project, I took the opportunity to volunteer at Southeast Asian Literacy which is a nonprofit organization that helps Southeast Asian refugees in Milwaukee by empowering them to engaged members of this diverse, dynamic community. The mission of this organization is to develop educational and social skill, plus creating community leaders and inspiring future generations.
The first time I walked into this building, I saw a lot of kids from different countries. Although any students can come I saw a lot of little kids from K-5 to high school students. Inside of the building was really warm and it can get noisy; therefore the older students may choose to work in the conference room, the computer room, or the larger meeting room downstairs. I saw sign up the board where the volunteer can choose their regular student and work with them immediately, however, if the regular student has not arrived then the volunteer can choose a student from the sign-up board.
On the orientation, they showed me the procedures what I have to do as a volunteer and gave me some tutoring tips. Then, they paired me up with a student that speaks the same language as I do so they will feel more comfortable and understand the English. I was working with Rohingya student that was from Malaysia. We introduced each other and ask questions so we can get to know each other. It was part of tutoring tips that the volunteers have to talk and connect with students. The goal is to make the students feel comfortable and build support. Conversation is important for children to develop fluency. We worked on her homework for two hours. Then we both have to fill out the progress report in their folder.
On the next day, I had another student which is also Rohingya from Malaysia. She has very limited English and she told me how she was so stressed for having a lot of homework and feel bad about herself for not knowing any English or even wanted to get help from someone. I told her not to give up and that she is not alone because all refugees who’s here new in the United States have gone through this struggles so it will take time and need more practicing and needed self-care. After working on her homeworks for two hours, I saw a big smile on her face for getting it done. She was happy seeing me because she said she found someone who speaks the same language as her which is Rohingya.
There are some organization in our lives because of these social groups. Within these groups, we have our social networks. I believe social networking is the use of internet-based social media programs to make connections with friends, family, classmates, customers and clients. Social networking can occur for social purposes, business purposes or both through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on. For example, I found this organization from my sister and she met this organization coordinator at her work by communicating. The lady from this agency, she told us to fill out the volunteer application online. My sister and I did the application then we go to this agency for two days. I think this is the social network because we communicate other by computer, phone, work related and also for gaining knowledge. This service learning project was so very valuable for me because I was given the chance to help with refugee people who are struggling with many things. As an immigrant refugee, I understand refugee students situations because I have gone through many struggles just like theirs. I am very glad and happy that I volunteered there and I realized how much support and help they needed. Making even a small impression can change a person’s day, and possibly even change a child’s perception of their future. Every individual has the power to make a difference, even if it’s a small difference.
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