Summer discovery | Teen Ink

Summer discovery

September 21, 2008
By Anonymous

Community service, at its very essence, represents an ideal. To give something of yourself and in turn expect not financial reward. But rather something more- a sense of personal fulfillment and the realization that the world does not in fact revolve around ourselves- is an experience vital to maturing. Over the summer, I worked as an art assistant at Guerrero elementary for the All Kids Are Gifted program (A.K.A.G), It was not so much a premeditated decision; more an unexpected adventure that came into being after Mrs.Doncer, my AP European history teacher and directed of the program recommended it. At first I was a bit hesitant- hundreds of elementary aged children screaming and being all childlike? Not exactly my idea of a perfect summer. Still, It would look good for my college application... Plus really how hard could being an assistant be?

Well, pretty hard. Never again will I take for granted an educator who posses such courage as to teach k-6th grade. It is truly a talent taken for granted by so many. As hard as it was to help teach the children the basic elements of art (and then how to apply them to ¡°creative¡± projects) It is unimaginable for me to contemplate how Mr.Casey, the actual art teacher, managed to create lesson plans simple enough, but not so stripped down as to not allow the children to express themselves and learn without overwhelming them. The appreciation which I now have for both the ingenuity of a teacher, and the subsequent ability of a child to create artwork, which although lacks the technical sophistication and detail that comes with age, shows such originality that these features become irrelevant. Indeed, nothing could possibly exemplify the meaning and purpose of art more so then a child at work on a fantastic creation that only he can truly appreciate.

The time I spent at Guerrero taught me much, but of all the knowledge which I gained, of all the personal revolution that showed themselves to me, Two stand out. One was mentioned above, the discovery that art has to it more then technicalities: A child can be his own Picasso if encouraged, whether they posses the talent is irrelevant when faced with the fact that creativity stems not from predefined terms but rather the passion which is poured onto the paper. The other, a much more personal one. I was born and raised in New York, not the city but further north in the countryside where time passes slow and the towns seem hardly cosmopolitan. The school was small; indeed if Cheers was a school this was it- everybody knew your name. More importantly it was the undeniable poster school of a small town: Close knight, Prosperous enough, and of course not exactly abound with diversity. Yea, We were all white kids. My coming to Arizona last December was filled with a few surprises, to call it a culture shock would be n understatement. If there is one thing I am most grateful to my summer experience for it is the heterogeneousness which it introduced me into, for while my spring semester at Mesa high did throw me into a new culture, It did not adequately encourage me to explore it. When thrown into a new situation, it is only reasonable that I sought my own kind and hardly attempted to put myself in a position where I might not be around those I both looked like and was brought up in the same fashion as.

Guerrero changed this, perhaps not from my own efforts but more due to the need to assist all the children, not only the ones I felt I related to. While my hesitancy may seem superficial to most, it is a trait which I believe all of us to hide deep down in the inner most confines of our hearts: the reluctance to associate with other not like ourselves, to put aside ethnical, religious, and class labels in order to embrace not the external elements of an individual but rather the inner more complex personalities and soul of a person. Children are the utmost example of Toleration. I remember a particular day the children were learning about abstraction, and their goal for the day was to recreate Van Gogh¡¯s famous starry night. Well, at each table sat five children, all of course diligently at work on their masterpieces, but at on table sat an odd scenario: four small girls, obviously of Anglo-Saxon decent and a boy who was obviously not. The children did not seem to take this into account, and indeed the affable nature shown by all was astoundingly brilliant. It seems doubtful that the parents of these children would do so well if sat at a dinner table, but I for one was proud to help teach such chivalric students.

It is my Belief that the A.K.A.G program fosters this sense of diversity, that the mixtures of children which attend it creates an environment of understanding and acceptance. It taught me something which I doubt anything else could, the fact that this country was build on the mixture of cultures which when combined are what forms the true American identity. My small town did not make me realize this, even my new high school, as diverse as it might be, did not give me this revelation, it took a group of small children. The teachers who educate, and the subsequent role they play in encouraging diversity is vital to this understanding, for the dedication which they show is outstanding, My summer experience leaves me with a question. It is not a long one, but its complexity is more then I can understand, If children are able to show the tolerance which we, as adults, are so hesitant to exemplify, then when is it that we lose this sense of universal unity and, more importantly why? Discrimination has been one of mans greatest tragedies, and so does it seem to continue to be.

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