Becoming greater than ourselves

Elliot, student leader and volunteer tutor

By Elliot Fung, student leader

I asked my mentee to read the word “each.” He paused to think about it, frowning and fidgeting, a million thoughts running through his head. For me, the answer to this question would be automatic as I have had years of experience with the English language. But for my mentee, a kid in Grade 2, this was a challenging task. English is certainly not the easiest language to master, with its many rules and exceptions. At the moment, I imagine he was trying to re-member what each letter sounded like and then remembering to apply all the grammar rules that we use when sounding words out.

After a few moments of silence, I chimed in to help. “Try breaking the word into two parts, ‘ea’ and ‘ch’,” I said. He sounded out “ea” and “ch” separately then paused again. A few seconds passed, then suddenly with a mighty grin he exclaimed loudly: “EACH!!” I too couldn’t help myself but smile. I had witnessed an accomplishment, a true learning moment for this kid.

I think about these moments while volunteering and facilitating with Student Open Circles, and I can be happy knowing that I’ve done some good. I’ve helped someone in the way I would want to be helped. Whether it be writing letters to seniors, tutoring high school students, or even helping kids with arts and crafts, when you volunteer with Student Open Circles, you get the sense that you’ve made a tangible impact in the community. You become part of a group of supportive, inspired, and dedicated individuals who come together every week to be greater than them-selves.

For myself, I have also gained many skills along the way. I have learnt how to apply empathy, actively listen, lead, hold space for others, and I’ve come to understand the importance of respect and inclusivity. I truly believe that I’ve matured and become stronger as a person.

I am so glad that I happened to come across this opportunity and took a chance on this group. I could never have known how important and valuable it would become.