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Archive for September, 2011

While I was a freshman in high school, I was always stressed out. I never once let myself relax or have fun when times were stressful. I always had good grades and the motivation that teachers loved. I never allowed myself to calm down until junior year. I have learned over the years that it is important to live life freely and not be so nervous about what will happen in the future. After graduating from college, I see myself maybe becoming a business woman or a photographer. I am very interested creative and have fun ideas, like owning a high end boutique. I could have that store and sell some of my own photographs. Creating displays has always been one of my favorite things to do. Since a very young age, I would gather my sparkling rock collection onto my carpet and decide which Fools Gold, or one of my huge geodes to put next to my little figurines. I have also been a fan of writing creative stories. At first, it’s sometimes difficult for me to begin since I have so many ideas to write about, but once I began an assignment, I just go with it. An example of this is one I was given an assignment in my freshman year to write a various ideas for a short piece, I decided on a short story for children. Since it was a short story, I had to cut my load in half because I just could not shrink it down! Although my interests are in film, creative writing and business, I have had the most experience working with young children.

 As a student and a person, I hold many strong qualities. As a high school student, I am very motivated to do my best, although sometimes my best is not good enough; well, everyone has their moments; I always strive to meet my best, not being worried about everyone else’s’. I am also respectful of both myself, my other classmates, as of course my teachers and authority figures. I also am friendly, refreshing, and I have a good head on my shoulder. I guess these qualities made me a good leader for Camp Cedarwood. I have volunteered there for four summers and I have worked with grades 1-4. Other then the work I did with volunteering at Cedarwood as CIT and Staff Aid, I had the amazing chance to go visit Hawaii where my Aunt had lived there for many years and is the director if a top ranked preschool. I very much enjoyed my stay there because the little student where very refreshing and although sometimes four year olds do not bring out the best in a 17 year old girl that traveled over 6,000 miles over summer vacation, they challenged me with reasonability and patience. And let me tell you, twenty; four year old for about ten hours a day can put a strain on anyone!

Although working with young children of large sizes and being responsibly for them seems like hard work, it is, but my experience has helped me a great deal.  For example, I was not as assertive to the children at camp, even though I was much older, but by the end of the summer, I was able to become more assertive then three years back while I was a CIT (Counselor In Training). Being assertive has never really come to me all that well. It took time for me to realize that I was indeed older and far mature then the little campers and I learned that for being a strong leader, I need to know how to guide young children. I also learned that children are intimated by authority.  To be a good leader, and a person, I needed to acknowledge the fact that if you yell at a 8 year old for doing something minor, go down to their level and they will far more likely to listen and follow directions. What helped me understand that being assertive is very important when working with very young children is that they sometimes need to listen to you the first time and clearly.

While I was working at camp during the summer before my junior year, I was assigned three first graders to watch over them while we went on a field trip to Water Wiz. When I thought it would be a nice idea to get ready ahead of time so we did not have wait in the very long line in the bathrooms, I brought them out of the water and we all got changed. This probably was not the best idea. Before I was getting dressed, I told the three of them very clearly and said “Do not go anywhere, I will be out in no longer than five minutes.” I told them that very slowly and with authority. Of course, they were already mad at me for getting them out of the water an hour before we were supposed to get out, they left without me. So, I get out of the changing room and to my horror, I could not find my little campers. It would have been great if they still had on their bright yellow camp t-shirts( everyone, including staff, have to wear a Camp Cedarwood shirt so no one is lost), but they did not, thanks to me. After panicking and crying a little bit, I found them.  But the lesson I learned from this was that I should have been far more responsible to make sure they would not leave and maybe that I should have been far more aware that they would have probably left me anyway. That was when I realized I should become more effectively assertive and not tell them to stay where they are. I also learned that the younger the children are, the more they are not going to listen to you, no matter how experienced or older you are.

The lessons I have learned through my years of experience with children have helped me become more toleration and patient. I used to be very uptight, never once relaxed, and always worrying about what will happen next. This has also helped me in my school life too. When I was given too many assignments around the same time, I used to be frantic and all over the place. I still am a bit disorganized, but I can handle the load for more than I could while I was in middle school and during freshman year. And since working with children, I have been able to become far more mature and responsible. Although working alongside young children is not the career for me, I am thankful for what I got out of doing so during the past four summers.

 

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During my summer of ’09, I had the great opportunity to go to Hawaii and work with a preschool. I hopped on the plane very early on August 10th, and in the matter of 12 hours, excluding the two layovers, I was in the Aloha state. If being served a minimum amount of dry roasted peanuts and being next to a baby for 8 hours could not bring my body down, nothing could.  My mind, however, was deeply affected. The jet lag was not bad; I just was really confused with the time change. But the only thing I had in my mind was that I was to start working early the next day.  To clarify, I went to Hawaii, from RI, to work. It’s a bit extreme as I think about it but it was well worth the trip. So I stayed in Honolulu (Hawaii Ki) from August 10th, to the 27th. The reason why I flew 6,000 miles away was to volunteer at my aunt’s preschool. Although it is located off a highway, it’s a very established place. Most of the students’ parents are lawyers, doctors, teachers, and businessman.The preschool is  actually a very elite and expensive education facility. In the class that I helped with, there were 20 four-year olds.  Being in a whole new environment was very interesting to me. When I went outside at the playground area, all of the children were Hawaiian or part. There was only two other Caucasian girls, but they ran away from me when I said Hi. So here, I am, one of the four Caucasian people, knowing nothing, and I cannot even speak Hawaiian.  The language of Hawaiian is a very difficult one to master. My cousin, brought up in Hawaii, had a difficult time learning the language in school. It only consisted of 12 letters; A, E,I,O,U,H,L,M,N,O,P,W. Little children normally are hard to understand, but all of the ones I helped out with had Hawaiian accents. The teachers where all very pleasant and welcoming, which was a nice feel. Apparently, mainland residents, especially New England, are very cold and not very friendly. So, with the fact that I am the minority, cannot speak their language or lingo, and I am a cold individual, I am at a very strange position.

I very much enjoyed my stay there because the little students where very refreshing and although sometimes four-year olds do not bring out the best in a 17-year-old girl who traveled over 6,000 miles for summer vacation, they challenged me with being responsible and patient. Being in Hawaii was somewhat of a culture shock, with the lauah, the food and everyone being so friendly. Most of the children in Hawaii were typical four-year olds; not listening, refusing orders, and not being fair to others. My job was to help the teachers out and see what the children could make of the situation, if not too intense for me to handle. Most of the things I dealt with were when a girl was crying because her best friend told her she was not her friend anymore. For a 17 year old, I thought, Wow, I never knew there was so much drama with four-year olds. But after that happened, I counseled her, and we ended up playing Lego’s together, making it all better. This very experience helped me understand that although they are young, preschoolers need interaction with older people. And to be able to work with such a young age group, there needs to be understanding, patience, compassion, and most importantly, assertiveness. Assertiveness is the key while working with this age group. If they do not listen now to simple and clear directions, what will happen down the road?

 

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