Congrats to July's volunteer of the month, Patrice! Patrice was our Programs Intern in the spring of 2016, and taught poetry during after-care at Akili, helped with in-school projects, and copyedited countless pieces of student writing. Read our interview with Patrice:
What first brought you to Big Class?
I'm an English major at The University of New Orleans, and during my last semester I wanted to get involved in an internship. Preferably one that made a positive impact on youth. I read about Big Class and the amazing work they do with youth and the rest was history!
What keeps you coming back?
The kids at Big Class keep me coming back. I've never worked with such a fun group of students. One minute I'm laughing at a funny dance or joke and the next I have goosebumps and tears over beautifully written words. Those kids have soul, and they are not afraid to express themselves. I keep coming back because the experience is so rewarding.
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
Patience is probably the most used skill that I used. I needed patience for everything. Writing and teaching calls for a lot of patience and think I mastered that skill.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
The biggest challenges that I've faced is technological distraction--specifically cell phones. Today, kids all have cell phones and they are strongly connected to each other through social media, but it can be hard to keep students focused and off of their phones.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind one of them if you can.
I loved working on the poems about "self" with the middle schoolers at Akili. "My name is...", "Recipe of me", and "Where I'm From." I enjoyed these projects because they helped build confidence. Middle school is the toughest time in an adolescent's life. It's a time of change, and if one does not have a strong sense of self and identity, depression can set in and learning is stifled. I loved watching their faces light up when they wrote and expressed things about themselves that they were proud of. I also loved learning about each student's background. There were some amazing facts I learned about some of the students. These projects also helped me learn about their own personal interests, which helped with future projects.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
When I'm not volunteering with Big Class, You can find me at UNO studying (I'm beginning my masters this Fall), working at Cavan restaurant, modeling for local designers and boutiques, or traveling with my amazing boyfriend.