What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
Overtime, I learned that Armani wants to be spoken to as my friend; she wants badly to be accepted. Greg wants to be challenged academically; he wants to be a scholar. My cousin, Zechariah needs constant affection and encouragement; his dad passed away at his peewee football game two weeks ago. Every Saturday morning, at Emanyatta, I work with these children. For African American children in my community, traditional school contributes to cultural genocide. Moreover, a stigma has been festering that college might as well be on the moon if you are not an athlete; I reject this mentality and I am working hard to disprove this stereotype that is infiltrating the minds of my young Black peers.
Emanyatta derives its name from the warrior training camp of the Maassai tribe from Southern Kenya, and I see myself in the warriors that we are conditioning each week. This program was designed to provide elementary school students with additional academic support; however, for myself and many of the kids I work with, the group’s warm environment is monumental and serves as a second home. I know from my own experience, pursuing your passion in my community is a battle. Some of my duties consist of teaching second grade “Read Aloud, Read Proud,” which allows students to practice reading orally, leading third grade’s “Solve It Saturday,” a 30 minute math and critical thinking workshop, and bonding with the kids during “My Earth, My Worth,” a gardening workshop that promotes healthy eating. Seeing the students’ eyes light up each week as I work with them dispels the myth that Black children cannot learn; hearing their choral response disproves the stereotypes that Black children do not listen; feeling their collaborative energy dismantles the notion that Black children will not behave.
I know many of the kids outside of the program, and I know that having a surplus of young volunteers like myself would provide valuable mentorship. My success will come from rewriting the narrative for African American youth in my community, and through encouraging them to pursue higher education.Published in