Volunteering in the communities where they are living gives Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) students opportunities to learn more about community engagement, local organizations, and develop leadership skills.
Marie-Claude Assamoi is a NWCCI participant from Ivory Coast who is studying business at Pierce College. Here she writes about how she shared her love of dance with a group of local middle school students and in the process conquered a personal fear and developed leadership skills.
I had a hard time deciding about what I should write for my blog post because I have so much to talk about. I finally decided to write about my passion for dancing. I have always been passionate about dancing since I was a kid.
Back in my country I taught dance to kids and teenagers, but I would never have thought that I would have the chance to do it in the United States. I was fortunate to network with a lady who was looking for someone to participate in an afterschool program at a middle school in Lakewood. At first she was looking for somebody to help them write or something similar, but I told her I could teach dance and she was excited about that.
I taught the kids each Monday for two months. At first I was scared to death, mainly because of my accent. Kids from middle schools are not easy at all; I have seen movies where kids made teachers go crazy and quit! This thought didn’t help me at all, it made me feel like quitting! In addition to those fears I had many responsibilities like taking attendance, making sure they were respectful, stamping them before they left the room, and accompanying them to the bus. Oh Lord, it felt like it was too complicated! But, I had a commitment and I needed my volunteer hours for the program so I stayed.
And my first class was awesome! Even if some kids were not easy and some of them were mocking my accent, the others were lovely and so cute. One of them even volunteered to be my assistant (Yes! I am a boss with an assistant! ) and he helped me taking the attendance list. We had so much fun together and I took some time during my class to teach them about Africa, for instance, that we don’t live in trees. I showed them pictures of my country, and they were so surprised with the fact that Africa was neither a country nor a jungle! At the end of my two months I was so happy I made the decision to do this because I learned so much. It helped me overcome my fear (that people will mock me because of my accent). This volunteer opportunity gave me a sense of responsibility and taught me how to teach and how to talk and behave with kids. Finally, I was glad they got to learn about Africa because of me.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.