The following S-Files submission is a personal testimony by an anonymous volunteer from Project Literacy at UCLA.
Why do I wake up at seven-thirty every Saturday? Saturdays are for sleeping. Saturdays are for watching college football and cartoons. Saturday mornings should be for everything but working. Grumbling about how early it is, I get up and head to Kerckhoff to get ready for our Watts tutoring site with my co-Saturday Watts director.
And then at ten I get to Watts. A precocious 6 year old, runs out of their families car excited to see the tutors and runs over to give me a hug (a youth safety no-no, but try denying a 6 year old a hug). Her 16 year old brother, casually strolls over to give me props. Their 12 year old brother also gives me props, all-the-while keeping a too cool for school look on his face. You shouldn’t let this look hide the fact that he is extremely intelligent.
All these children are kind and innocent. In the right neighborhoods, with the right schools and the right situations, most of them would be able to attend four year colleges.
Seeing these kids every Saturday I am reminded of the hope I have that they can succeed and go to college. I see them and hope that if we can impact just one child in a positive way, we are successful. If we can help improve their reading level to where it should be, if we can give them guidance, and if we can impact them in a positive way, we are successful.
Looking only at demographics and statistics, you can’t help but feel that your efforts are moot. These neighborhoods have, and maybe will remain, places underprivileged neighborhoods with high poverty
But seeing the children that we work with, I can’t help but think that we are making a difference. The smiles on the kids’ faces when they come to learn to read must mean that we are making a difference. They are smiling about coming to tutoring! Every Saturday, week in and week out, they come to tutoring and form a bond with their tutor. They gain a role model from their tutor as much as they gain improved reading and writing techniques.
And as much as we make an impact on the children, the children make an impact upon us.
So why do I wake up at seven-thirty? Project Literacy is why I wake up.