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12 (Little) Reasons this Collegiette Was Glad She Volunteered

It’s amazing to me how much a five year old could have impacted my life so much in just one instant, as his tiny arms wrapped around me in a long-lasting embrace at our first encounter ever. No words were spoken; just a glance and a loving hug as he stepped off his little yellow bus.

This past summer I experienced one of the most life-changing events that I’ll carry with me in my memory forever. At first I thought I’d be that unpaid, unnoticed volunteer sitting back and watching the professionals handle the classroom while I swept the floors and did all the dirty work. Little did I know that when I signed up to work among Speech Pathologists (my current major and future career) in a summer preschool, I’d be someone who the children look up to as a role model and friend.

As the friendly Speech Pathologists welcomed me into the classroom setting that I’d be volunteering in for the next few weeks, my stomach fluttered with worry. I didn’t know what to expect at all since I was the youngest among several professionals. Who would want to work with a naïve undergrad? The nervousness was really getting to me especially as three small yellow buses pulled up to the entrance of the school.

The first thing I noticed coming off what looked like a grand staircase compared to these tiny children were two eyes looking directly at me. They belonged to a boy who looked as if he had been through a lot of hardships during his five short years. His eyes were full of wariness but at the same time made my heart melt. He ran right off the bus into my arms, two complete strangers.

Right then and there my confidence rose up to infinity. I knew why I was there. Not just to put on a resume that I had the chance to work among women in my future profession, but to genuinely help these kids. I was there to make a positive difference in their lives.

Each day at the preschool I had the opportunity to read aloud with the children individually and in a group setting. Slowly but surely, I saw progress in each of the dozen children. I was amazed at how far they had come since day one. Some were not able to count past two on the first day, and by the end of the program, many of the children would astound me with their accomplishments as they could count into the 40’s and beyond. Each child had their strengths, and each one touched my heart.

One of the most unforgettable stories I’ll take away from this experience is when the same little boy who gave me the biggest hug a five year old could give told me his dad was in jail. I remember the sadness in his eyes as he looked up at me with fear. The remarkable part of the story is that after the two of us got talking as I tried to cheer him up, a few moments later we were both laughing at something completely off topic. That was when I realized I had the power to make these kids laugh no matter how they were feeling a few moments earlier.

As the weeks went on I formed a strong bond with all of the twelve smiling faces. We had built a trust that I was there to help them learn as well as laugh with them as they play. They looked up to me, which was what many of these children needed: a steady role model. Many of their backgrounds consisted of parents who just simply did not give them everything they needed. I decided not to dwell on what these children didn’t have, and give them all I could give: love and a few smiles along the way.
 

Hi! My name is Amanda and I am one of the new Campus Correspondents for HC Pitt and am absolutely loving it! Helping others with advice about their articles and getting to read amazing stories has been so rewarding. I love writing about topics that make people's days just a little cheerier! Her Campus has been a wonderful experience for me over the past four years. I get to work with an amazing team every day and could not be more grateful. As a senior, looking back from where I started with Her Campus, I see how much it's changed me and all of the great friends I've made from it too. Saying HC is one of the best things that has happened to me during my college career would be an understatement! I really love how much it has grown and how much others have benefitted from their experience with our organization. HCXO <3
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