In honor of National Volunteer Week, we thought we'd share these thoughts from a voulteer. Elena is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority at Washington University. These young women visit our school every Friday and have been doing so for the last six years. Elena, thanks for your profound thoughts!
Here's what she had to say:
As the culmination of our school year approaches, I just wanted to tell you and everyone at University City Children’s Center thank you. Over the past several weeks, my sisters and I have greatly enjoyed spending time and getting to know the students. Whether its reading in the classroom, drawing pictures, or running around outside, each and every interaction with the students is special, and I hope we had as profound an impact on the students as they did on us. Not only did the students help brighten our days (which can sometimes be full of endless hours at the library or in the lab), they also reminded us the importance of relaxing and having fun. One volunteer even said, “It was really fun getting to play with little kids! I really enjoyed going. I liked that the kids got to choose what we did.”
That being said, I wanted to thank you for not only allowing us to volunteer and nurture friendships with the students, but I also wanted to compliment UCCC for its philosophy and mission. The importanceof a high quality early childhood education in determining someone’s ultimate academic and social success is generally taken for granted, and I just wanted to commend you and everyone at UCCC for providing so many kids with a wonderful and innovative pre-elementary education. I especially want to emphasize how significant UCCC’s commitment to diversity is. Through my own academic experience studying race relations, I have come to realize that the most effective and authentic way to combat racism, classism, and all types of bigotry and discrimination is through personal interactions at an early age. University City Children’s Center’s commitment to diversity does not only help “level the playing field,” but also allows children at a very early age to form friendships and share experiences with others from different backgrounds.
Last but not least, I wanted to tell you how impressed I personally was with the students. Although I have substantial volunteer experience, most of it consisted of tutoring middle-school aged students. Before I started going to UCCC, I falsely characterized all young children as playful, energetic, and yes, a little bit selfish and forgetful. However, once I started seeing the students weekly and getting to know their unique personalities, I quickly realized that my preconceived notions were wrong. I was amazed by Cosima’s maturity, astounded by Holly’s eagerness to lend a helping hand, and surprised by Luna’s ability to remember the name of a volunteer who had been there two months earlier. I cannot wait to return to UCCC in the fall and see my new friends again!
Again, thank you so much!