by Pamela Barry, BTC Student
This semester I participated in an internship experience with an on campus organization called Partners in Print (PNP), one of the three programs coordinated through America Reads*America Counts (AR*AC). AR*AC, an organization run through the Leadership and Community Service Learning branch of Stamp Student Union, aims to provide mentoring programs that enhance learning for both local elementary school students, and students here at the University of Maryland. My experience with Partners in Print allowed me to engage in our local community while embracing all of the qualities of a Beyond the Classroom student: being an “active and responsible citizen and leader in a complex, multi-cultural, and global society.”
Partners in Print student mentors present bi-lingual workshops (Spanish and English) to parents and children at 17 different schools in Prince George’s County. These 45-minute workshops provide advice on how parents can engage their children in reading at home. By committing to working with one or two partners two days a week, mentors contribute to a child’s academic success by helping their parents through presentation of engaging material and activities.
Partners in Print requires responsibility and leadership. Being one of the few bi-lingual resources of its type offered to families in Prince George’s County, families began to rely on our program and our mentors to supply them with advice which may be crucial to their children’s academic success. It became my priority and responsibility to attend workshops every week in order not to let families down because they were depending on me to make a difference in their lives. The opportunity also enhanced my leadership skills as I learned to work on a team, plan workshops, and step forward to serve community members. The program taught me that in order to make the most powerful and positive affect you can on the community you are serving, sometimes you need to take on a leadership role, guide others, voice your opinion and be completely willing to look silly and take risks.
Working in a multi-cultural, global society does not always mean one must travel to a foreign country. Through a PNP training session, I learned that citizens of the county come from 151 different countries and speak 167 different languages. Every week I actively engaged with families from a variety of backgrounds such El Salvadorians, Cameroonians, Americans, Colombians, Kenyans, and some nights even found myself speaking three different languages. Families swooned over the chance to speak to mentors who spoke their native language and were willing to serve as a friend and mentor in helping them adjust to the American culture and schools. Opportunities to engage in diverse communities are abundant, and local communities are often linked to and effect global society as a whole.
BTC is about positively engaging and contributing to your community and global society through passion, responsibility, and leadership. My internship experience at PNP allowed me to practice all of these elements in my own community. Apply for AR*AC!
Edited by Dr. Caitlin Haugen, Assistant Director, Beyond the Classroom