My TCM Experience

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.

It’s Not Only For the Kids

By Eman Vivas (Year-Long Intern)

It’s not only for the kids.

You go to your site for the first time, you try your hardest to remember the names of the children – which can range from 15 to 50 depending on which site you go to – because you know you’re going to be spending the next few months getting to know them and acting as a leader, a role model. You lead them in games, in cooking, crafts, but most importantly you share with them the gospel.

It’s hard at first. You spend a week or two getting used to how things run, familiarizing yourself with the things around you. Then you get more responsibilities. You begin to lead. Your first day trying to teach the kids their bible lesson? Hah… well at least you have a few months to improve right?

After a while you DO get better. You know the kids better, you’ve formed relationships, they look up to you now and are willing to listen to what you have to say because you’ve shown them your commitment to them by showing up every week. It’s not like school, you’re not teachers. You don’t have to be there because it’s your job. You’re there because you want to be there, you want to be part of their lives. And they can feel it.

As you spend more and more time with the kids, you get attached. You become a “favorite leader” to some of the children. Who knows maybe you have a few favourites yourself (though you shouldn’t let the kids find out). But this leads you to the next part: the struggle.

Your kids are growing, they’re changing. They have family problems, problems at school, problems with friends. It’s infectious too. One kid is upset they somehow all get upset. One day you’re more than happy to get to know the children at your site and build relationships, the next you wonder what happened to your once happy, easy-to-get-along-with children.

You pray to God, asking Him to help you, “God what happened to these kids? Why are they like this now?” only to be confronted with the fact that God’s plan to bring you to the site wasn’t just to change the hearts of the kids, but yours as well.

He shows you how to manage the situations that seem to arise all the time now: the fights, the time outs, the crying. He gives you patience, wisdom, love. He’s building you up just as much as them. You start to see the improvement once again and you thank God for humbling you, helping you to see His plan in all of this.

But then it happens again. And again. And again. And again.

God’s work doesn’t stop, the struggles won’t stop, the need for God’s help won’t stop, but the awesome thing is that God’s love doesn’t stop either, and by the end you’ll know that it was all worth it because He refined you.

I’m here to share Jesus with these kids, but they’re here to show me who Jesus is as well.