Every week a group of Yalies and I volunteer at Fair Haven Elementary school where we work with a bilingual after-school enrichment program. The program director, Mrs. Luz, helps about 40 students from Pre-K to 2nd grade with reading, writing, and math. Most of the students are fluent in Spanish and improve their English at school. The program helps the students and their parents, many of whom work until late in the afternoon.
Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, I understand how difficult it can be to learn English and to understand stories, instructions, and math in two different languages. I also have a very strong interest in public education. My privileged education, consisting of gifted programs and magnet schools, helped to get me to where I am today. I know how powerful education can - and should - be. For that reason, I love working with the students at Fair Haven. I want to ensure they can work through language barriers and succeed academically and beyond.
My favorite Yale course this semester is titled “Foundations in Education.” The class has given me a new perspective on public education, and makes me see my work in Fair Haven through a distinct lens. I absolutely love the class, which is a survey of the American education system. We address a range of topics, beginning with some philosophical and historical background to the recognition of the need for, but lack of, equity in our education system. At Fair Haven, I contextualize what I’ve learned about bilingual education, teacher evaluations, common core standards, early childhood education, and more. It’s amazing to see the real-world applications of what I learn at Yale, just down the road from my classroom.
I just love the children. They’re full of life and energy, eager to tell me everything about their day. They don’t always enjoy math and reading, but I manage to keep them engaged and excited every time. We read picture books together. I reward them with puzzles for every spelling question they answer correctly. They always have something to say about my hair. We have so much fun, and I am always happy to help them learn.
I also really like getting off campus, and the Fair Haven neighborhood is one of my favorite places to go. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of home - Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In NYC, I travel everywhere by either bus or train. Here, I am happy to ride the bus to Fair Haven Elementary, feeling like I’m back in high school - on the bus, heading home, and excited to see my family. Fair Haven also has a large Spanish-speaking, immigrant population - similar to Sunset Park. There are panaderias, delis, barber shops, Latin-America restaurants, and, my favorite, a C-Town supermarket with lots of delicious Latin-American foods.
In the midst of midterms, deadlines, and stress - the children at Fair Haven Elementary and their bustling neighborhood offer a well-earned break. I love Yale, but I also love getting away from campus for a while and learning about the vibrant communities that surround us.