|VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism|
| SPANISH REFLECTIONS
Ellie Klein from Spain reflects on how volunteerism abroad, parallels and diverges from volunteerism in the U.S.
Off with the Training Wheels and onto the Bike!
OFF WITH THE TRAINING WHEELS AND ONTO THE BIKE
When I was twelve years old I did not know how to ride a bike. Well, actually I did know how to ride a bike, but only a bike with training wheels and for anyone who has gone through the horror of the American Middle School, we all know that is socially unacceptable. The details evade me, but one day I seemingly decided enough was enough and it was time to grow up. I had watched many people ride two-wheelers before; from neighbors to Disney channel characters, I knew it was possible. I remember people telling me once you get it you get it, it’s a skill that will just sort of “make sense” and one you never forget. I listened to instructions on what I should do, which way I should lean and when. I looked over the bike I would courageously ride before taking my place on the center seat. Yet, despite all this priming, this observation, this studying, when I got on the bike, I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. I had nervously gotten on and off the bike fifteen times until my neighbor, witnessing the catastrophe from his kitchen window, came outside to help. Without any real coaxing, conversation, or trust (I rarely saw him except when I would ring his doorbell and beg him to buy my Girl Scout cookies), he got me on the bike and more or less pushed me down the street to fend for myself. And with that, I did it. I road the bike. Since then I’ve been in a triathlon, cycled my way around Minnesota, Walla Walla, Tacoma and Seattle with ease and currently have three lovely two-wheeled bikes of my own.
We are compassionate humans and instinctively want to protect them. But when protection turns to lecturing, it often inhibits growth. Doing, falling and failing at anything is a great life lesson we all must learn and institute in our day-to-day lives. Studying, reading and examining is a primer to action, but there is no substitute for actually trying the task yourself. There is a deep satisfaction that comes from understanding without the help or hand of another. Students need support from adults, but more than anything, they need a quiet "guide on the side" who firmly trusts in their own strength and ability as learners.
Ellie Klein graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in May of 2010 with a degree in Media Studies. Last year she served with the Federal Way Public Schools AmeriCorps team as a tutor at a local high school and volunteer at the Westway After School Program. She is currently in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain, to teach English at a high school in the Mediterranean coastal town of Adra.
A Service of MBA
Publishing-A subsidiary of Macduff/Bunt Associates All materials copyright
The content of all linked sites are beyond the control Volunteer Today and the newsletter assumes no responsibility for their content.