Monday, April 18, 2005

Volunteer Journal #1

Well the reason that I am posting today is because I am doing the volunteer project for my Asian American Studies class. This is to avoid the damn 2 5-7 page research papers, and just volunteer, and use my bs skills to churn out 2 3-5 pages. Fair trade? maybe. I'm guessing the volunteer might even help my resume.

So today I walked into Ms. Smith's ELL class, ( I don't know if this is the same as ESL). Looking across the room, the ethnicities of the kids were pretty diverse, not only Asian so I though, "interesting, i am not sure how to right about Asian American experiences if there are not even that many Asians in there to begin with." Oh well, maybe I can do a compare contrast thing. The kids were all drawing and coloring some space design thing and looked like they had no trouble. I asked the teacher what I was supposed to do and she said that I should just dive in and ask if the kids needed help. Me being the shy keeping to myself guy was sort of reluctant. But what the heck.

So I just walked to a chinese kid (yea I felt like I was discriminating because I was picking ethnicities to better suit my project needs) and asked his name. Leon then proceeded to draw his planets. I was pretty amazed because they were very realistic looking, with Jupiter or Saturn having the unique cloud pattern that it has. He then pointed at each one, naming them in order with ease. I felt dumb because I wouldn't have been able to do it. He told me he liked astronomy. Hey thats cool, only in middle school and knowing what is your favorite. He then proceeded into telling me that his dad was a biologist. I asked if he thought biology was boring, and he said yep. This kid was pretty bright and well-spoken. He then asked me if I came from UC Davis. Apparently his father works there as a professor. haha, maybe if I take biology I can get bonus points! hah. well, he was from the earlier class so class ended in like 5 minutes.

Next class, we were working on grammar. I looked at the sheet but didn't know how to teach the kids. I mean, I knew how to fill in the blanks, but that pronoun and adverb stuff, I don't know how to really explain or analyze it with those terms. All I ever did was just put whatever sounded right. I never really had a teacher who drilled me on these. I noticed one Asian guy, Justin, was writing a paragraph about watching Dave Chapelle... awesome. I like to watch that too! So I started talking to him, it seemed like I was bothering him. He reacted like how I would have reacted. Answering in short phrases, not carrying conversation. But it was cool. Then I sat there for a while watching the kids speed through the worksheet. I noticed a kid with an electronic dictionary, so I went over to him. His name was pronounced "Yoong" that is not how you spell it, but I'm pretty sure its a Korean name. He was a nice kid, but shy like Justin (I think hes korean too, cus his last name is Kim). Answered in short phrases, while eating his cookie.

Behind him sat a kid that was.. either Latino or European.. he told me about how he made his brother shoot soda through his nose. He was very talkative. There were a couple of talkative kids that spoke freely, regardless of their ethnicity. However, I was wondering if their backgrounds correlated with one another. The stereotype that asians keep to themselves is not true. Leon was not shy, a kid with glasses in the next class was not shy (both asian). On the other hand, some of the "white" kids did not speak much, but I could notice it was mostly because of a language barrier. They had a heavy accent and that probably contributed to the lack of talking.

The other volunteers were older than me. I talked to Mike and John, but the girl I didn't talk to. Mike (senior)came to the US when in 1998, and he graduated high school in 2001. He told me he got beat up and learned "sailor talk" but he fought back. Interesting. Maybe he was kind of kidding because he liked to joke around. I talked to John (Junior) about the class, and what we were going to write about. He did not know the first paper was due this Thursday. He was in engineering too but switched to managerial economics. He told me a lot of people switch that way, I wonder if I would too haha.

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