Before I left for holiday break I anticipated sitting in front of a warm fire with my younger sister and brother, my mom, dad and our goofy dog. I looked forward to watching some old episodes of West Wing together, laughing at my brother’s silly comments, and then heading off to bed. I would treasure a warm house with my beautiful family, being home for the holidays, and resting my body and spirit.
As a City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley Corps Member on the Cisco Team at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, I work with second, third and fourth graders each day to help improve their reading. I have 14 students on my tutoring focus list, and teach two literacy classes during our After School Program. However, through all of the hard work that I have done and lessons that I have learned, I have been most amazed by what my youngest students, the second graders, have taught me.
To a second grader, the most important bond that you could make is over tag or tether-ball. To a second-grader, your best friends are the ones that play with you at recess every day, not the ones who are ‘cool’. To a second grader, asking for help on your homework is not embarrassing, but necessary, helpful and even fun. You show a second-grader that you care by letting them color as part of your lesson. You show a second-grader that you care by quizzing them on their spelling words. You show a second-grader that you care by talking to them calmly rather than yelling when they get out of their seat for the sixth time to ask you a question. Over the past few months, these youngsters have taught me that so much of life’s pleasures are simple, we just have to be present to notice and appreciate them.
As a City Year San Jose corps member, I am blessed every day in ways that I could never have imagined prior to coming to the West Coast. Our work is hard and it will never end, but I am blessed to spend each day with students that remind me to step back and enjoy the simpler details of life. My wall is now covered in drawings from my second graders and my daily exercise is playing tag with 7 year olds.
Over the next few weeks, I hope that you too can take a step back to ask yourself what makes each day worthwhile, and whom to give an extra hug and “I love you”.
Maybe, if you’re lucky, you will be able to see life through the eyes of a second-grader.
-Meg Hassey, Corps Member CYSJ