There’s a mural that I catch glimpses of every time I look towards the classroom doors. Like sunlight piercing through a window at dawn. The bright, vernal colors illuminate the atmosphere of the tutoring center. This painting represents diversity itself; it is of a man with wrinkles near his smile plucking turnips from his garden, a woman cradling her newborn child close to her chest, children chasing one another down the street in a game of tag, and a choir breathing hymns into the world.
This mural reminds me of why I love volunteering at the Jericho Tutoring Center. There are days where I’m the only student-tutor on duty, where I stand amidst a sea of chaos – children screaming, taking more snacks than they should, refusing to complete their homework. There are days where I have my own tests and assignments looming over my shoulder as I help the kids with theirs. Yet, at the end of these days, I still run to my ride with a beaming smile and anticipation for my next time volunteering at the center. The tutoring center, old and white, has become to me what the mural is to itself – a source of light.
I’ve kept every single drawing and card a child has given me. I cherish every moment where a child has hugged me, refusing to let go, or laughed at a silly action I did. Due to COVID-19, my time with the Jericho Tutoring Center has finished. My Youth Volunteer Corps branch has closed near where I live, and there are no programs running at the center that allow for student volunteers. I’ll miss the conversations about haunted places and hilarious school moments I had with the kids. I’ll miss playing Hangman and LOL surprise dolls and tag. I’ll miss their smiling faces and just how joyful and energetic I felt at the end of every volunteering session.
I was supposed to be the tutor, but those kids taught me more than I ever could teach them. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s an accurate cliché. When a young boy walked up to me and explained he couldn’t complete his homework at home because he couldn’t afford a pair of scissors, I grappled with the harsh impacts of financial inequity on younger children. When one sister claimed that their mother favored her more, I learned how to teach children about what is appropriate to say and about compassion. When younger boys got into physical conflicts, I developed the skills to mitigate conflict.
In many ways, Jericho was the epitome of my time at YVC. It taught me how to efficiently aid my community while upholding tenets such as kindness and respect. It taught me why diversity is so important in the different experiences of the children I tutored helping to develop my own life lessons. It taught me why service is so important in demonstrating the impacts my tutoring has right before my very eyes.
I will miss Jericho and all it has brought to my life. My moments there will become a mural in my mind – permanent, bright, and comforting.
Hi! I’m Viktoria Wulff-Andersen, and I attend High School in Danbury, Connecticut. I have a passion for school. I love to write and read, and thus am a member of the National English Honors Society as well as my local newspaper. I engage in clubs such as Debate, Model UN, and Board of Governors. I also have a life outside of school (shockingly). I love to play the violin and ukulele. Despite my lack of athleticism, I still pursue skiing and wakeboarding for the thrills.
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