When I first became a student at UVA, I was so impressed with all the great programs available in Charlottesville and through Madison House that allowed for interaction and mentorship between kids in the community and college-age students. I was eager to get involved with one of the nearby elementary schools, and I was told about the great work that Abundant Life had been doing at Johnson Elementary. Soon after, I began attending the afternoon tutoring sessions at the school and working with a second grader named Abdikhayr. Our time together has continued on this year, and I still see him once a week as he is moving along through the third grade.
A HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK
It is such a great sight when his eyes light up about a book he finds particularly interesting, and I could not be happier to stop on every page to answer his curious questions on all the subjects we encounter.
My time working with Abundant Life has had a profound personal impact on the way I view my short time in college. Every week, I am overwhelmed by the joy and energy that courses through the third and fourth graders as they play outside before tutoring begins. Their welcoming smiles and eagerness to learn are so inspiring, and I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to spend any portion of my time at the school. Most importantly, this program offers great learning services and mentorship to students, but I have definitely learned a great deal from the students and gracious program coordinators as well.
Furthermore, getting to work with one student over 1.5 years (so far) has been such an amazing experience. Thinking about how much Abdikhayr has learned and grown as a student since the first time we attended tutoring together is crazy to me! His passion for learning is so clear through his kind, competitive spirit when playing reading games to his great love for history (especially presidents and explorers!). I’ve watched his interests expand and his confidence grow, and it is compelling to see how his hobbies outside of the classroom transfer into tutoring.
INDULGING ABDIKHAYR’S PASSIONS
Abdikhayr has become a big fan of soccer, playing most days before tutoring begins. He even asks specifically for books on the sport that we can read as a part of our weekly lesson plan. It is such a great sight when his eyes light up about a book he finds particularly interesting, and I could not be happier to stop on every page to answer his curious questions on all the subjects we encounter. Additionally, we have a good time playing board games and forming sentences with different words he is learning that relate to our own time in tutoring together. He will commonly refer to things going on around us, proving that he understands the subject material and showing his good-natured sense of humor.
It has been such a pleasure getting to know Abdikhayr over the last year, learning that he most definitely likes cats better than dogs and prefers only to step on the blue tiles in the hallway (to avoid falling into lava). I have a huge appreciation for the Abundant Life tutoring program and all it does, as I have seen all of the kids open up with their tutors and program leaders. This program equips children with both educational and social tools, and I am fortunate to be able to play a role.