This month, our volunteers of the month are the Alternative Spring Break students from Xavier University, a Catholic school located in Cincinnati, Ohio!
This group spent two days volunteering in our afterschool program at a DeKalb County elementary school, helping children with their homework, reading, and conversation pieces. We asked them to share their experience:
We signed up to volunteer our time during spring break to work with refugees. We wanted to learn about the resettlement process, how these individuals join the new communities, and what we can do to help with this process along the way of welcoming them to the states.
We enjoyed the kids’ simple joys, such as playing on the playground, bouncing around a ball outside, and skipping and holding hands. The children showed us what hope looks like for this generation. They are the ones who we need to think about when making decisions regarding the refugee population.
We learned how vital it is to have a supportive community. The [elementary] school welcomes all children with open arms, regardless of language, race, and other factors that could create barriers. The kids step up and become translators for their friends when they do not understand something. They can pass around a sentence in five or six different languages, just so everyone is on the same page.
If these kids can recognize the needs of their peers, then we can also recognize what needs to be done to support them, in and out of the classroom. Regardless, we learned that love and friendship have no age, language, race or gender.
We asked them what advice they would offer future volunteers and alternative break groups:
Be open to what the kids are going to tell you and show you. They just want to be your friend, make you laugh, and simply have fun. Know that you are making a difference, even though it may not be visible.
Showing a child love, laughing with them, and helping them with homework, shows them that someone cares, someone is working alongside them, and they are being supported. If you can help the child learn to love school and show them the importance of an education, then you are giving them the greatest tool to success.
The service of this alternative break group was a tremendous help to our staff at the school and, most importantly, to the students. Thank you, Xavier University group, for supporting the community and helping kids engage in learning!