On Saturday, April 22, Wilson College welcomed an estimated 60 children from different nearby towns to spend a fun and educational day together. Brie Burdge, AmeriCorps VISTA and Learning Campus Program Director, stated that last semester the program lacked funding to have children come to campus twice a week so these workshops were a solution. In the fall, the workshop was such a success that Burdge decided to do one each semester. Burdge added that other colleges hold this kind of event but Wilson College is the only one who host children in grades K-5.
The children enjoyed six sessions throughout the day that featured hands-on activities which catered different students’ needs and preferences. In addition, bilingual tutors helped with translation on a few occasions when language became a barrier. The order varied according to the group and its schedule for the day but the topics were Dance, Environmental Club, Computer Science, Physics, Reading and Story Telling and Anatomy. At midday, children, volunteers and tutors took a break to share lunch in Jensen Dining Hall.
When asked about how difficult it was to organize the workshop, Burdge said that there are some steps to follow. First she had to schedule and determine the date and length of the workshop. Then, she reached out to the campus community and found people interested in being instructors. The instructors crafted their lesson plans for the workshop day. After that, Burdge advertised to recruit volunteers and invite the children. Next, she reserved the places destined for each session. Burdge concluded that the week prior to the event was the most hectic, but this time it was certainly easier than in the fall when they had never done this before.
At the beginning of the day Burdge said that she felt a bit flustered making sure everything was ready but at the end of the day, when the children, tutors and volunteers posed for a group picture, she realized what was accomplished and felt really good about the day.
Elsa Tabaku ‘20, one of the volunteers, stated the time she got to spend with the kids “was very precious.
Tabaku added that she enjoyed the physics class because “[children] were full of ideas and they put their heart in what they were doing.” She concluded that she would highly recommend this workshop because the kids can help adults to understand how beautiful and happy life is when not complicating everything in it.
Aurora Ortiz ‘18, another volunteer and active member of the Learning Campus Tutoring Program, said that “the workshop is an amazing opportunity and experience for everyone involved”. “There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on the faces of all of those children and knowing that we made a difference in their lives in just a few hours,” Ortiz said.
Burdge encourages students and members of the Wilson community to volunteer in the future. At present, the Learning Campus Tutoring Program takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., but since the semester is almost over, students can aim to make participating in this program next semester’s resolution. For more information, visit http://my.wilson.edu/learning-campus or contact Brie Burdge at firstname.lastname@example.org.