Since it is my last semester at Messiah and I have not yet completed all of my language requirements, I am taking the MCPC cross-cultural course. Part of the class requirement is to volunteer once a week in a local after school-care program. This week was my first week “in the field.” Walking into the cafeteria, our group arrived just in time for “Power Hour,” the hour during which the kids concentrate on getting the homework finished and graded. I gravitated toward the slightly older kids partly because I tend to be more comfortable with that age group… and that was the only area that had an empty seat. As I sat down, most of the kids playfully looked away and were very tight-lipped, but even the strongest person can only keep it together for so long before being completely overtaken by my incredible charm. Pretty soon kids were grinning. How you ask? What do kids enjoy talking about? Pranks. Hopefully I won’t have too many angry parents on my tail later.
I think one of my favorite moments was when I asked one little boy his name, he was probably only seven and pretty intently coloring. He didn’t answer, but a little girl across the table piped in telling me his name. Upon hearing that he quickly looked up and shouted at her “Don’t be telling her my business!!!” It was pretty hard to keep my composure after that one. I spent the rest of the time helping the kids with their homework and laughing with them. When my group was leaving, one of the little girls, Dinasia, came up to me and asked me if I had to go with the rest of the group or if I could stay just a “little longer.” If her intention was to melt my heart, she thoroughly accomplished her mission. A short while later I had 15 kids all crowded around me telling me they weren’t ticklish with that I would tickle them to be sure. When only 3 kids remained, they gathered around my necklace (which rests on my predominant chest) and asked me what it was made of. I told them it was a shell, and they asked if I found it on the beach, I shrugged and replied that somebody must have. They then examined it more closely with a magnifying glass… right by my chest.
When they became even more comfortable with me, they touched my hair and rosy cheeks asking why my hair was that way and wondering why I was wearing too much make up. The couldn’t believe I didn’t have any on. When their parents finally came, each, in turn, asked me when I was coming back. I heart breakingly told them not until next week.
I don’t think it’s really fair to say I was doing a “service project,” if the kids blessed me more than I ever could them.