By Eugenia, AALEAD Volunteer
Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Iorlano, Development & Communications Associate
Becoming a member of AALEAD this summer was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. I had just finished my first year of college at Arizona State University and of course, I was broke, with no money, just like every other college student. So my main goal for the summer was to get a job. The only issue with this was that I wanted a job that I would learn a lot from, I didn’t just want to make money. All of the jobs that seemed to be available for me were jobs at Forever 21, Chipotle, and basically all of the jobs that consist of things that didn’t seem relevant to me after a year of college. My parents started suggesting the idea of volunteering because I had never done it before. So I started looking at different jobs on volunteermatch.org. I went through several pages looking for something that would be good for me, meaning something that would give me the skills for my major (Business & Chinese Language and Culture). That’s when I came across AALEAD, the only job that seemed intriguing to me.
The process of applying for the organization and having to go through the interview was extremely nerve-wracking, just like all are. But once I saw the amount of diversity, I felt some type of comfort in that environment. My experience working at Thomson Elementary school was one of the best I’ve ever had. Living overseas my whole life made me appreciate different cultures so much more, so being around youth coming from different backgrounds and ethnicities was such a learning experience for me. Not only were the kids great, but the staff I saw on a daily basis were such great people. I don’t think I would’ve been able to deal with the hard work that comes with working with kids if it weren’t for those teachers and other volunteers. Going on all kinds of field trips, participating in assemblies with the kids, and just being in a classroom setting with them everyday was so rewarding, that having a paying job didn’t matter at that point.
The learning experience with AALEAD paid off more than anything. I learned to be patient. You never know what to expect from youth, whether it’s a comment made about how “you look like a celebrity,” or whether it’s a little girl holding your hand, complaining about how far the walk is from the school to the movie theatre. I learned to deal with situations and people with patience. Not only that, but I learned to be selfless. Putting those youth needs first and doing things so that their hearts could be happy, seemed the most important to me. Thanks to AALEAD, I’m now a better person than I was two months ago, and I made the huge decision to change my major because of the simple fact that I learned to love working with youth more than I already did.