Citizens are part of a community. Each citizen has a social
responsibility. This social responsibility, however, is not left unaided. Everyone has an expertise or a hobby. These
contributions of abilities help to build social capital within the community. When
people work together as a team, more gets accomplished. One person’s strengths
build upon another person’s strengths.
Social capital helps us to create a civil society. By contributing
our abilities to the greater good of the community, we not only show out strengths, but, in a way, we also show our weaknesses. We all share the fact that not one of us is perfect and we need each other. When this is realized, we may begin to understand and accept the other.
When there is a civil society, one’s views can be made more known and, therefore, can become more
of an agent in change, even if in a seemingly small way. One of these seemingly
small ways may be to be a positive role model. Everyone is a role model to someone. It is each individual’s choice whether to be a positive role model or not. Each individual’s actions and reactions affect not only that individual, but
someone else as well. We have more of an impact on more people than we may think.
It takes time to find one’s strengths and weaknesses. It
takes the confidence to see our strengths and the humility to admit our weaknesses.
By helping others, one is helping himself as well. By helping others,
one not only understands others better, but he also gains a better understanding of himself.
I volunteer at The Potter’s House. I help in a couple
classes and I tutor a second-grader from Burundi, Africa, named Dorokasi. Sometimes I think I am not making a huge difference in their lives.
However, when those thoughts cross my mind, I remember the kids passing through the hallways and saying hi to me or
running up to me, arms open, to give me a hug. Obviously I make some sort of
impact in their lives.
It was interesting to me to find out about the history behind The Potter’s House. “The school was started by a group of Calvin
College graduates who decided they wanted to make a difference in their
community. Seeing a need for education, they formed the Potter’s House,
a truly Christ-centered school” (The Potter’s House).
These college graduates saw a goal and sought to accomplish it. They
accomplished it through teamwork and determination. They saw their strengths
and decided to use them for the greater good. They became an agent in a positive
change. This positive change, however, did not end with them or even the first
ones who attended that school. “Twenty-five years ago we began The Potter’s
House with the intention of making a real difference in children’s lives. Today,
we see all of this take shape in the Potter’s hands” (The Potter’s House).
The Potter’s House was founded in 1981 with the intention of making a difference in the lives of children. I see a big difference between this school and public schools. I also see a difference between The Potter’s House and other Christian schools. There is such a great diversity of students. The diversity
is not only race or ethnicity. There is a diversity of socioeconomic status and
disabilities. I have never seen so much diversity in one area.
The class sizes are relatively small. This is nice because
there is then more of a relationship built between the teacher and the student. Students
tend to feel more comfortable asking for help or just coming to the teacher for something when there is more of a one-on-one
relationship. When a student feels more comfortable with the teacher, they are
more likely to learn and succeed in general.
This small class setting also makes it easier for me. When
I am left to take care of the Lego class, it is much easier when there are only about ten students as opposed to thirty. It is easier not just because I have fewer children to keep on task. It is easier and more enjoyable because I am able to learn all their names and build somewhat of a relationship
with them. I learn their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and am able
to make a bigger difference in their lives.
The Potter’s House has a great mission statement. “The
Potter’s House provides a Christ-centered education to children of all ethnic heritages and income levels, equipping
them to serve God and society to their fullest potential” (The Potter’s House). While changing the lives of these students for the better, The Potter’s House, including all their
staff and volunteers, is preparing these students to make a difference in the world.
The Potter’s House is now “fully accredited and [has] more than 430 students in grades PK-12
on two campuses” (The Potter’s House). It amazes me how the
mutual idea of a group of college graduates could grow from just an idea. The
Potter’s House has been around for twenty-five years now, and has grown in so many ways.
However, their mission still remains the same as the mission these Calvin
College graduates had.
I encounter so many wonderful people at this school. While
some of the students are more work than others, there is a huge diversity of wonderful personalities. They all have one mutual desire: to be loved. That’s
just about all I can do. I’m no expert at Lego architecture, but I can
sit down with them and pretend. I can listen to the stories of their masterpieces,
and help them look for the pieces they need.
I can use my reading and writing skills to help Dorokasi. By
asking her questions about her and her assignments, I build a relationship with her.
This helps her to feel more comfortable and therefore she is able to learn better and feels more comfortable asking
questions. She can be quite shy and one-on-one situations are helpful for her
reading and writing skills as well as her communication skills.
Also, by relating the material in her assignments to something more applicable to her life, she is able
to better comprehend what she is reading and writing. This helps her to learn
more about herself, gain more interest in the topic, build a better self-esteem, as well as learn the necessary skills of
reading and writing. I try to make our time together enjoyable as well as educational. Learning new skills and increasing knowledge can be stressful. I try to make it a little less stressful by helping her to have fun learning.
The students I work with are amazing, but so is the staff. Lois’
title is “development associate”. I’m not sure exactly what
that means, except a lot of work. She is the one who I contacted to volunteer
there. She is usually in her office when I go to The Potter’s House. I don’t see her a lot, but she seems like a very nice lady. I know that if I ever have any problems, I can go to her.
Rosalia is the PK-3rd grade secretary as well as the receptionist. Every day I volunteer, I go into the office and sign in. She
is always there to greet me. She is always there to wish me a great rest of the
day when I sign out.
The first time I volunteered at The Potter’s House, I helped the students in a choir class make instruments. The choir teacher’s name is Ms. Cloud.
I now help out in another choir class doing something different, but the teacher is the same. I love walking by her classroom, even when class is not in session, and hearing her sing. She always seems to have a song in her heart. It brightens
The second way I help out at The Potter’s House is to tutoring Dorokasi. Her teacher, Ms. Camfferman, is one of the 2nd-3rd grade teachers. She always seems to have a smile on her face. She constantly
thanks me for volunteering and lets me know how helpful it is for Dorokasi. She
keeps me updated on how she’s doing on her assignments and how well she’s accomplishing her goals. This helps me a lot to see that I am making a difference.
Ms. Leegwater is the 4th-8th grade secretary.
She is the one who set me up with the activities classes, the board games class, the Lego class, and the choir class. She is very friendly and is probably the person I have gotten to know the best during
my time at The Potter’s House. The students seem to love her and for the
most part listen to her. While the students are out for recess, we go out with
them. Lately Ms. Leegwater and I have been talking while we’re keeping
an eye on the students who are out for recess.
Because I am there so much, I have become acquainted with the janitor, Victor, as well. He never fails to say hi to me and ask how I’m doing as I pass by.
It seems to me that one of the goals of this school is to build relationships as well as to attempt to help
and to understand others. I see these goals being accomplished. I see so much diversity in so many aspects, yet it seems as though there are no more disagreements than
if they were all the same race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. There seems
to be a unique unity among these students. I think the students have a better
understanding of different cultures and the like mostly due to the great diversity found at this school. Understanding a bit about others, makes it easier to help them, and also easier for them to accept help. Because there are smaller class sizes, building a teacher-student relationship is
much easier and long-lasting. This helps the students to feel more comfortable
and learn better.
Overall, I loved volunteering at The Potter’s House. I
learned a lot about volunteering in general. I learned a lot about myself as
well. I learned some things I’m good at, or can do when needed, as well
as some things I’m not too great at, and can improve on. I now have a better
understanding of and appreciation for other people: people of different ages, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses,
and the like.
I hope to be able to continue volunteering here. It has been
a great experience and I have grown an attachment to these students. I have learned
most of their names and personalities. Working with children in some way is something
I would love to do with my life. This has given me a better understanding of
what I will be dealing with and how to deal with different situations.