Cardozo High School | Nicole DiOrio

BLESSED

As I rode the metro towards Cardozo High School for my first day of volunteering, I thought about what my experience was going to be like. I imagined I would arrive to the high school and simply walk upstairs to the classroom where I was going to be tutoring high school students, with no problems. When I was arriving at the high school, though, I began to get looks from students, clearly wondering who I was and why I was there. I entered the school and was asked to show my ID, go through security, and sign in, stating why I was there and providing a contact that could prove that I was truly there for the reason that I was claiming. After this, I began to walk up to the third floor, in search of the classroom that I would be tutoring in. As a 9th grade tutor for the Latino Student Fund, I expected to be paired with a 14 year old high school freshman who needed help with his or her algebra homework. While I was, in fact, paired with a high school freshman who needed help with his math homework, I was surprised that the student was my age, doing math work that I did in the 5th grade, and struggling to understand what I was saying to him when I spoke English. Soon enough, I learned that most of the freshmen involved in the tutoring program were actually older students who had only been in the United States for two years or less. As my time as a tutor went on, I realized how lucky I am. The students in this program constantly struggle to understand their work in Spanish, never mind English. Often times, I take for granted the fact that my homework is in my native language and I don’t have to go through the struggle of translating it before I can even begin to comprehend its actual content. Many students at Cardozo High School work extraordinarily hard to do work that is often considered “easy” to many other people. Though they all come from different backgrounds and have different stories, all of the students share the same determination to learn English, get good grades, and go to college so that they can make a future for themselves. Participating in a community service learning project through my Roots of Racism class at AU has been a truly eye opening experience. It has given me the diverse experience that my professor has so often talked about in class. It has also helped me realize that, while I may often complain about my workload or that I am struggling in a class, it could always be much worse. The students that I have worked with clearly have a much more serious struggle when it comes to their school work and yet, they hardly ever complain. Through my time volunteering I have experienced something much more rewarding than I ever could have imagined and I have learned that I often take many of the blessings in my life for granted.

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