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Oct 25, 2014
Soup Kitchen Week 4

This week at the Soup Kitchen, Morven and I arrived around 10:30 and left a little after 12:30. When we arrived we helped to prep the tables and get everything ready for serving. We served ravioli and veggies. We were told that the day before they had over 60 people come in for lunch which is significantly more then they usually have. As the guests began to arrive we saw some new faces and some old ones. There were a few families that I had heard about from the people who have stayed at cares already, including the mother with her four children. We started to serve, and tried to be as systamatic as possible but there were a lot of people so we ended up just working as a team to make sure everyone got food. Overall we had some great conversations as usual and I look forward to next week.

Posted at 01:07 pm by KaylaJones
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I haven't posted a blog about Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past few weeks because they didn't have the paperwork for a number of littles. With that being said, it was highly irritating to look forward to going all week and then finding out it got cancelled. While I'm still a little sour about the wait, it was worth it. I got paired up with a 7 year old boy named Luis, who I can already tell will be the one person I look forward to seeing every week. Although he has trouble focusing and gets distracted by everything, he truly wants to learn. English is his second language, so he has trouble reading and writing at times, but he works hard in school. We had to fill out getting to know you paper work, and on the question that said "what is one thing you want your big to know about you," he wrote that he wants me to help him be the best student he can be. I love the fact that he truly wants to learn. Personality wise, we clicked instantly. This sounds so cliche but I truly cannot wait to see my little brother next week!

Posted at 05:30 am by Emily Brown
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Oct 24, 2014
Case de la Cultura (10-23-14)

Yesterday’s two hours at Casa de la Cultura went by pretty slow. When I entered, I noticed that Karina, my student, wasn’t there so I decided to sit with another group. By chance, it happened to be someone who wasn’t a student. Her mother, Maria, comes every week to get help with her English and Latesia tags along because she needs help with her homework as well. Yesterday, she needed help with all of her homework. Starting with math, all the way to writing and social studies. I didn’t realize how much harder school has gotten over the years. The amount of homework she had for one night was a bit overwhelming for someone her age. I couldn’t even imagine doing all of that in the sixth grade. After Latesia was done with her homework, we began to drift off into other topics. One of the topics we spent a long time on was math. I told her how much I loved it but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become a math teacher. It caught me by surprise when said, “you should teach math… you made it fun for me so and I know that my friends would feel the same.” I was flattered. A conversation with a 6th grade helped me to realize that maybe teaching math wouldn’t be so bad after all. Although yesterday was a slow day, I was able to add on to my options of future careers. Nene Sy

Posted at 05:27 pm by Nene Sy
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Oct 22, 2014
CARES Office

Two weeks ago, before the trip, we spent another hour at the Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S office. My dad travels a lot for work and always saves the travel shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and soaps that hotels provide so that he can donate them. I knew he had saved up a large assortment so when my parents visited I asked him to bring any that he had. I brought a large bag with me to the office to donate and I think it was definitely appreciated. However, even though I thought I brought a lot of toiletries with me, when we organized them into different piles it was obvious how quickly the office runs out of supplies. I will try to bring more, but it was very eye opening to see how even a large donation can be used so quickly. Given the amount of people that go in and out of the office, it is obvious why things are used up so quickly, but it also goes to show how much donations are appreciated. I hope to somehow donate more to the office because of how much it provides for others, it is nice to give back. I look forward to going this week to see how things have changed since it “officially” opened and it will be interesting to see how much of the supply is already used up.

Posted at 04:58 pm by Kara Urbaniak
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Oct 21, 2014
El Centro Blog 4

From 10/21/14 Today, everything went fairly smoothly except in the first ten or fifteen minutes. Evelyn and Juan were more rambunctious than usual. They were very physical with each other; they competed to sit in one seat, and when Evelyn got their first and Juan, in his frustration, grabbed her folder and threw it. He continually took her name tag or her pencil and would run away with it. Evelyn chased after him and grabbed him, fighting with him to grab back her belongings. On one level it was very playful and innocent; just two little kids playing around with each other. Still, as the adult in the situation I tried to take control of the situation. Juan’s tutor didn’t seem to know what he was doing either, and remained quiet during their “fight.” I called out Juan’s name a few times and told them both to “chill out.” I wasn’t exactly the most forceful or effective person, but they eventually settled down. The rest of the session went fairly quickly. However, I found myself really tired and yawned continually throughout the session; luckily, Evelyn didn’t seem to notice. However, I did feel like it affected how I acted with her. For instance, after homework we’re supposed to read for 10-15 minutes, but Evelyn really didn’t feel like it and said reading was boring. I half-heartedly argued with her, told her reading is fun, and she took out the chapter book from her backpack, but no reading got accomplished. Evelyn drew a little (which, I argued in my head, is something at least creative, better than watching TV or staring off into space), and then it was game time. It amazes me, to some extent, how excited Evelyn gets every Tuesday when it’s 4:00 and games can be played, even though the games aren’t exactly new or exciting; just some puzzles, educational bingo, and battleship-esque board games. Still, she’s happy to play, and even though I was yawning too much and definitely not enforcing the rules as I should have been, I take pride in the fact that she had gotten her homework done and seemed happy just to be doing something simple.

Posted at 05:29 pm by Ali Lauro
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El Centro Blog 3

From 10/14/14 This week at El Centro was a little different because of reading days; usually I go on Tuesdays and work with Evelyn, but because of our class trip I couldn’t make it and went Wednesday instead. I was assigned a student who didn’t have a tutor; his name is Carlos and he’s in kindergarten. There were some clear benefits to tutoring a student so young. Carlos listened to me, for instance, when I called his name, or told him to return to our table, or to continue working. Once kids, especially boys, get to second and third grade, they seem to be less likely to listen (as exemplified by Juan). They’re more rambunctious, more hyper, more eager to run out of the cafeteria and get a drink of water and talk to their friends. It was refreshing to have a student who was so obedient while also being so adorable. I’d assumed that the kindergarteners and the first graders would be easiest to work with because of this; there was less pressure to impress them. They take you as an authority figure, just like they would to their adult teacher. However, I had some difficulty filling up the time with Carlos. He had no homework, so we worked on spelling words on a small dry erase board and pointing to words on his vocabulary list to see if he could read them. I wasn’t sure how much I should expect from him; how much can a kindergartener read or spell? I didn’t want to continually ask him to read words that he wasn’t sure of, because I’m very sensitive about accidentally bruising his confidence. I find that this is a struggle I face even with Evelyn; I want to encourage the students to learn and to feel good about themselves, and so I don’t want to sound too harsh by correcting them. I’m a sensitive person, and was a sensitive little kid, so I always keep that in mind when I’m working with them. Fortunately, Carlos seemed mostly unperturbed anytime I gently corrected the way he spoke a word. He chomped happily on a green apple (the snack for that day) and gleefully pretended to be a zombie attacking me. I have to say, I’m a little sad I won’t ever work with him again; but I know consistency is the key of the El Centro program, and staying with the same student allows bonds to form, so I’m happy to return to Evelyn next week.

Posted at 05:28 pm by Ali Lauro
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El Centro Blog 2

From 10/7/14 This week at El Centro was, say, less rewarding than some other weeks. Tuesdays, for me at least, are generally stressful and long days. I was exhausted by the time it was time for the walk over to the elementary school; when I finally arrived, it turns out Evelyn was pretty tired. Usually, her homework is finished pretty quickly and reading and games are followed. Today, however, her homework was longer and more tedious. Evelyn is in third grade and I find it hard, sometimes, to get her to find the answers to her homework without explicitly telling her what the answers are. We work through the first section of her homework and the next section requires a tape measurer to measure various parts of an “adult’s” body (it’s funny to me that I qualify for that category now), but the gym where El Centro is located doesn’t have one. Evelyn and I hurry upstairs to get one from her classroom. Juan, who is no longer my student but still work with me and Evelyn along with his tutor, is often very hyper and gets off track easily. I’m thankful that Evelyn is not like that, but Juan does sidetrack Evelyn sometimes by running off or shouting at her or talking quickly and jubilantly, sometimes seemingly to himself. This can be frustrating, although entertaining (probably more so now that I am no longer responsible for Juan or making sure he gets his work done). After that is a math activity with multiplication tables. Both Evelyn and Juan beg incessantly to use a calculator. We are forty minutes into the session and I admit I am tired and want to just let them use it. At first, I firmly say no and Evelyn spends most of the time working through the problems by guessing and seeing if she’s right by checking with me. It’s difficult because I know that if Evelyn uses the calculator she certainly won’t be learning anything, and I personally think it’s good for her future to get simple multiplication problems down; on the other hand, I have no idea how to teach her them (other than saying, three times four is three plus three plus three, and fives times two is five plus five, and so on). When Juan’s tutor lets him have a calculator I give in and let Evelyn use one on the last half of the problems. Overall, spending just an hour with two students, and only really focusing on one, is pretty tiring when I’ve been up early for classes and then work and dealing with other life stressors. If anything, working at El Centro gives me a newfound appreciation for teachers who have to command a classroom and teach, but also watch, twenty to thirty students for seven or eight hours a day, five days a week. I have to wonder how they can commit to such an obligation when they often don’t get much appreciation or praise for it.

Posted at 05:28 pm by Ali Lauro
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El Centro Blog 1

I was definitely nervous before starting my first tutoring session with El Centro. I had been given the names of two third-graders I’d be working with, Juan and Evelyn. I don’t have much experience working with kids, and my anxious self had always told me I wouldn’t work well with them, that I have some shortcoming that makes me unable to communicate with young kids. My hour spent with the, however, went better than expected. They were both very sweet. Juan is as smart as he is hyper; he reads quickly, rushed through his homework and begs to go to the bathroom and get a drink for water every few minutes. Evelyn is quieter, but very sweet. She is willing to listen to me and to follow the rules more readily than Juan is. The biggest struggle I had was that I quickly noticed the disparity between Juan’s reading level and Evelyn’s. They’re in the same class and have the same homework, but as Juan whipped out his work and scanned the words with ease, Evelyn struggled on more words. After completing their homework, we’re supposed to do about fifteen minutes of reading, and the three of us alternated reading pages out of a third-grade level reading book. The kids know that once reading is done, games can be played, so Juan in particular was eager to finish the book. He’d speed through his paragraph and then it would be Evelyn’s turn. She was a little bit slower, and often Juan got impatient. When Evelyn didn’t know how to say a word, she’d wait a moment, and Juan would say the word for her. He’d look through the pages of book, deciding to give me and himself the longer paragraphs and Evelyn the shorter ones. This was difficult because I want Evelyn to learn and to work through more difficult words, but I also don’t want to alienate Juan by reprimanding him for correcting her, at least not on the very first day we’ve met. It made me think about two things. First, I know both kids come from Spanish-speaking families, and I wondered if maybe Evelyn’s family spoke more Spanish at home, and that was why her reading level was lower than Juan’s. And second, how it must feel to be a teacher and have to deal with these problems every day and with a much larger group and variety of students. How do you foster growth in all different students when you cannot control certain outside factors, in this case, the languages that they speak at home? Overall, just in my first session alone I learned a few things, and I benefitted personally, I think. Juan and Evelyn didn’t seem to notice any anxieties I had, and they took me as an authority figure even if I didn’t feel like one. My time with them turned out to be pretty enjoyable.

Posted at 05:27 pm by Ali Lauro
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Oct 19, 2014
Casa de Cultura - October 16th, 2014

I'm beginning to make a pattern out of my nighttime walk to the SCAPP building with my friends. Although I prefer to ride my bike to make the trip a lot faster, I was in no mood to complain. As I walked up to the building I saw the familiar face of the woman from last time. I also found out her name Katarina? Katrina? I'm not sure. So- maybe I didn't figure out her name but nevertheless her joy and enthusiasm for learning made so happy. Today's lesson was geography and travel, as always my friend Katrina was more than ready to take on the challenge of learning and pronouncing the unfamiliar words of the worksheets. We reviewed more simple words like 'boat' and 'car' and progressively moved on to harder words like 'airplane' and one that made everyone giggle- 'lorry' While I was expecting Katrina to simply brush the word off in hopes that she would never see it again in her life, she instead asked us what it meant. We then had a mini discussion with everyone in the session about what a lorry was, apparently a word not used in America that is similar to a truck. As a student myself, I understand the importance of not simply acting like everything is clear, that it's really good to ask questions because it might help others as well. Katrina continues to impress me and inspire me to become a better student by putting more time into my school work.

Posted at 07:32 pm by Andeulazia
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Oct 17, 2014
Casa de la Cultura (10-16-14)

Community service at SCCAP was really calm yesterday. It seemed as if everything there began to become friendlier. Everyone in groups ended up drifting off into more personal conversation. I also noticed that there was more interaction between the people in different groups. At first, when we began the start of our 2 hours, everyone was quiet and the students were focused on their work. After a while, the host of the program, Lizzie, started walking around to talk to people. She stopped at our table to talk because she overheard me talking to one of the volunteers about my classes. We spoke a lot about our trip to DC. Lizzie mentioned how she took our first year seminar last year and she loved it. She was also pleased with the newspaper article. She thought that it was a great story. Of course when the volunteers and the student in my group heard us talking about the trip, they wanted to hear more. We spoke lightly about homelessness in America and what it meant to us. Moments like this make me happy about my decision of taking this first year seminar. I’m able to give my opinion on homelessness in America in hopes of simply clarifying questions for people who aren’t exposed to it. We also talked about Karina’s past and her family. She mentioned how she likes Gettysburg, Pennsylvania because its peaceful but she sees herself moving to a city in the future. I was able to build a relationship with one of the volunteers in my group. She’s a bio major and is willing to help me with my biology problems. It was a day of catching up and building networks. - Nene Sy

Posted at 11:12 pm by Nene Sy
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