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VISTA Reflections

Reflections on a Year of National Service

~December 2010~


Editor's Note: This is the third year that an AmeriCorps or VISTA member from the Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team has written a reflections column for Volunteer. Meet Ellie Klein the latest person to take time to share observations about working with volunteers and her experience kids. These columns are a reflections of the impact that volunteering has on someone's life. Enjoy.

Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team. Established in 1995, the Federal Way AmeriCorps program works to strengthen the Federal Way community through academic tutoring and modeling an ethic of service.

AmeriCorps members in Federal Way serve full time in the Federal Way Public Schools. In addition to tutoring students and developing before and after school programs, members manage two community tutoring programs, implement civic engagement community projects and serve in area service projects. AmeriCorps members also recruit and train community volunteers. For more information on their programs http://www.fwps.org/dept/volunteer/acfw.html




Option 1: Got up at 8, went to work at 9:30, got home at 6:30.


I went to the high school I volunteer in and asked Deanna, Juan, Frank and Tim how their day was going. I explained that if one half equals 50%, and 50% equals .5, and .5 plus .5 equals 1, then 40% must equal .4, to over 50% of the algebra class I serve in. I said “Bonjour” to Paul. I gave Chris my pencil. I told Sydney she did awesome in our group discussion yesterday. I walked Felix to study club. I said “Hi” to Jose in the hallway even though he was wearing headphones.

I got to the after-school program where I serve and laughed at Sam’s joke even though he forgot the punch line. I smiled at Hector when I told him he did a good job today and he responded with “What about Aaliyah? She did a good job too!” I tied 6 shoelaces. I smiled at Gabriel when he tried to spread strawberry yogurt on his crackers. I kept my promise to Stephanie and let her read me a book during homework time. I taught 28 kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders how to make origami boats…successfully. I held Eva’s hand as we crossed the busy crosswalk. I played freeze tag with Elizabeth and Maria when their mom came home late from work. I told Roman I thought he was the coolest kid I knew when he told me he had no friends.

The small victories and steps forward are what make my days worthwhile. Every student may not like me, they may not know my name or even why I’m in their school trying to help them learn. They may easily forget everything I tried to do for them that day, that week, or that year and I may forget too. These specific memories don’t need to stay with either of us, but our presence within them does. Being present for students in the small moments, the small victories, demonstrates compassion and if nothing else, at least for today, I hope my students remembered that someone cared.  

*All names have been changed to protect the confidentially of the students


Ellie Klein graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in May of 2010 with a degree in Media Studies. She is currently serving with the Federal Way Public Schools AmeriCorps team as a tutor at Decatur High School and volunteer at the Westway After School Program where she tries to engage students in learning through personal reflections and cross-content understandings.


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