Summer starts

After weeks of relaxation, Gettysburg group officially started working on Monday. It’s been a typical week at Gettysburg, as it rained in the middle of week. However, working on my new job, getting involved with the community, and simply spending time with the rest of the Gettysburg Heston family have all been exciting and refreshing. Looking back to the first week of my Heston experience, there’re some highlights that I wanted to share with everyone.
# Goals
After everyone moved in and settled down, our group had a one-day training at CPS office, which served as an introduction to the summer and reflection on our expectation and goals. On a personal note, I would like take the opportunity to learn more about the community and the issues facing its members, connect with different people/organizations, and learn from them. Although many of the problems facing the community have roots in today’s social structure that may not be easily altered, I look forward to take actions and contribute to the long-term effort that people have been putting in trying to end struggles and make change.
# Meals and More
From 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon, I work for “Meals and More” program at Prince-Peace Church. The program is an extension of the Soup Kitchen. It provides meals and educational activities for Gettysburg’s local youth ages 5 to 12. Most of the children are either from low-income families or referred by PA counseling. While their families may have difficulties providing a structured summer experience for them, the program aims to create a secured and instructive environment for the children.
By the end of last week, we’ve had 17 children coming in on a daily basis. The time they spent at the program is normally divided into several hour-long sessions, where meals are served and different activities are built in. So far, we’ve had library trip, yoga circle, play class, sign language instruction, tooth fairy, crafts lesson, movie afternoon, and etc. I helped out with the activities and planned some Chinese lessons for next week. The student body has been growing quickly, as information about the program spread around the neighborhood. We are expecting a few more kids coming, which would add the total number up to the maximum of 22.
Working at Meals and More provide me with a lot of first-hand experience teaching children. As a college student with great interest in the field of education, I enjoyed my job as I am able to observe the children closely, learn new skills from my co-workers, and practice them on the spot. However, since I grew up in a totally different cultural context, the impact American culture has had on its education program, teacher-student and parents-children relationship has been intriguing to me, so that I would like to take the chance to explore those aspects and continue to share my experience as the summer wears on.
#LIU Adult program
As Melanie mentioned in her post, the LIU Adult program has lost their federal funding and is currently in a very difficult situation. We all went to their Tuesday night meeting after hearing the news and were impressed by their commitment to the program and determination to continue even without the funding. Being an international student, I to some extent understand how much immigrants have to overcome to be at their current state, and grasping English language skills is so vital for them in order to earn a better live. And it is not all about themselves. One man I worked with during the tutoring session told me how he tries to learn English because he wishes to communicate with his children better and understand their lives outside home. While the LIU Adult program lost its funding mainly because the government decided the funding should be directed to migrant children program, it is often the case that families play vital parts in shaping migrant children’s identity and helping them to success.
Other than the LIU Adult program, we’ve been told that several SCCAP programs were being cut because of funding. Also, IMPRINT, the summer school program for middle schoolers that I was originally placed with, moved to New Oxford due to short of funding. Out of those sad new, the first major lesson I learned this summer is that funding plays such a important role in the non-profit world. I happened to read Wendy Kopp’s (the CEO and Founder of Teach For America) commencement speech at Dartmouth College this year. She shared a story that TFA survived a difficult period in its early days with the help from a government official who helped them secured a chunk of government funding. It very much exemplified the struggle facing many non-profit organizations.
As the first week ended with so many lessons and excitements, I’m ready to go for the second week. Hope the weather does not heat up, and Melanie, hope you are having fun in D.C.

Yaou

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