By Andriy Kharchyn (EPIC Tutor turned Year-long Intern)
I had a very good and fun experience at TCM’s After-School Program in St. James Town. I initially started volunteering only as a tutor in the EPIC Tutoring Program. I would often come a bit early and I would see the kids play various sports in the gym during their free time. Being a person who really likes to play sports, I would join them. I had lots of fun playing with the kids and it became one of my favorite parts of the program.
Initially I would play whatever games the kids were playing, but soon afterwards I noticed that some of them really like to play volleyball. The volleyball they played wasn’t a team versus team activity, but simply volleying the ball to each other and keeping it from hitting the ground. Their skills weren’t the best, so I tried to teach them how to improve their volleyball skills. But very quickly I also noticed that it wasn’t just volleyball skills that I was teaching them. I was frequently telling them that this is a team effort and that they need to work together to keep the ball from hitting the ground. They also need to communicate with each other while playing as to who will go for the ball. Another big lesson that I tried to teach them was dealing with failure (in volleyball, and also in life). If a child messed up during a pass, I tried to tell them how to improve their technique and encourage them to persevere in practicing if they wanted to get better. I also had to frequently tell the other children to be considerate and patient with the person who messed up. Thus in addition to having fun while playing volleyball, I was glad that I could teach them life skills as well.
After the free time, we would switch to tutoring. Although I tutored both elementary and high school students, helping them with questions in various subjects, I particularly enjoyed teaching math and science to the older students. I studied math and science at high-school and university and it was very fun for me to review these subjects and explain it to the high school students in simpler terms. I was able to help them understand the concepts and it is a very good feeling when they finally understand a challenging concept.
And as weeks turned into months, I started getting to know the kids better. I was building relationships with them and becoming their friend. Right from the point when I would arrive, I would talk with the kids and listen to their stories. And whether it was snack time, or play time, or homework time, we would do things together and continue to become better friends. And it was this very friendly atmosphere with the kids (as well as the staff) that made my experience very fun and rewarding, no matter what activity we had to do. I am very thankful to God for providing me with this wonderful opportunity.