Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thank You Previous Volunteers

After being at this university for two years, I have realized how important the Tree House English Resource and Community Center is. The previous volunteers who started it and kept it going over the past years need to be commended. I strongly urge all volunteers to try to start their own English resource center legacy that could lead to great things for the future.

The Tree House is a great resource for students:
  • It provides a selection of books that students are interested in at a level that they can understand. Without the resource center, many students would only have either Chinese and English cliff note types of summaries of major classics, inspirational English essays, or the actual classics that are too hard to understand. The Tree House with its variety of books motivates more students to read.
  • It provides a space to practice English.
  • It helps students become leaders.
The Tree House is a great resource for volunteers:
  • When I first arrived at this university, I was a lost soul. The Tree House within the first month provides a community from which a volunteer could learn from.
  • The Tree House instantly provides a secondary project as well as a place where volunteers can go and interact with students outside of the classroom to learn more about their needs and wants.
  • It provides a constant group of workers who volunteer to organize and participate in Tree House activities. When we first introduced students to the idea of creating and managing a project, we were met with a lot of resistance, a lot of sighs of frustration and boredom. We plowed through though because they were the workers and were responsible for showing up to work. It was hard for them to see the end product, but finally big events were held and the workers could feel pride in coming up with an idea and seeing it to the end.
  • The Tree House helped me get to know my site mate better. We might have stayed holed up in our own apartments if it hadn't been for the Tree House.
  • The Tree House is the epicenter for everything we do here. We make AIDS/HIV posters. We talk about gender issues. We learn about Western manners. We organize dancing, game nights, and a nature festival. We hold post graduate mock interviews. We have weekly movies and annual culture parties. We hold reading competitions and create books of our own writing. We start clubs at the request of the students.
Because it is a physical place with students who fill it, the Tree House is a stable, constant, sustainable point that helps volunteers and students every semester create learning outside of the classroom. If I only had a women's club, a knitting club, or a writing club, those clubs would most likely disappear when I leave. The Tree House on the other hand is always there waiting for a new volunteer, for new students to enter and create something through their cooperative desire to learn and teach English.

I just want to thank the string of previous volunteers who left this legacy of a Tree House. It really made my Peace Corps job easier and the benefits that the students have received over the years from the Tree House are too numerous to count.


M said...

I want a Tree House too! :)
and for the next post, I think you're "de bonne composition"and people de bonne composition tend to enjoy the good things and not dwell about the bad ones (but I'm sure there are/were bad ones. But you're right, just better to ignore them or forget about them, and it's great you can do that so easily...)

Dr. Jen said...

It is funny coz I am such a pessimist especially when it comes to projects and things that I am responsible for; however, my pessimism doesn't prevent me from doing stuff. I sometimes get stuck into worry circles about the future. Life in general though, I tend to be more happy and forgetful about the bad things.