Although the two tutors volunteered in different schools and in different subjects, both Annick and Lourdes are in the unique position of learning how to teach a group of less-than-timid teens a language that has been innate for most of their lives.
“I was a bit . . . a bit shocked,” Annick begins, recalling her first day at Pimlico Academy. “[The students] don’t sit down, they’re not quiet, and they’re very tiring.”
Annick reminds me of some of my own favorite High School educators: patient enough to teach, with a no-nonsense attitude that suggests that you listen. Carefully.
“But,” she continues, “as they get to know you and you get to know them, you find some middle ground. You learn to take it as it comes, and if you don’t think of a solution or a way to do it better, you let [the students] get on with it. Then you go back in a few minutes and maybe they will get it. Maybe there is progress.”
When I speak to Lourdes a couple weeks later, I am struck by the parallels between her and Annick’s experiences, right down to their first day.
Lourdes remembers, “I went to class, and the teacher introduced me to the students who had more difficulty. The teacher said, ‘Don’t be afraid because their behavior is not so good,’ but it was fine with me because I used to work with difficult children. I understand that sometimes they’re difficult, and that’s okay. I just like to work with them.”
In these few sentences, Lourdes exemplifies a quiet kind of perseverance, and immense dedication to her students. When I ask her what motivated her to reach outside of her comfort zone and become a volunteer tutor, she says simply, “The children.”
“They are special, they are innocent, they are funny, and I have fun with them. Sometimes it is difficult, but you have to give your time, because it will make you feel like a better person, too. These children are the future.”
Despite her earlier reservations, when I ask Annick the same question she remains focused on her pupils, too. Her favorite part? “The interaction with the students,” she says. “Opening their mind to other things, and showing them there is more around that they could explore.”
It’s easy to see why these two make such fantastic volunteers, isn’t it? Thank you, Annick and Lourdes!
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