Hi there! My name is Carolina Machin and I am currently a junior studying communications and political science on the pre-law track. I currently work at a law firm as well as hold leadership positions on campus in hopes of building myself up as an applicant when applying to law school. Through Professor Bailly’s course I have been able to look at Miami through different eyes as well as develop greater critical thinking skills when observing our society.
Ever since my freshman year of high school, I have devoted myself to what I call my own non-profit. “Tu y Yo Si Podemos” is a program I started in order to teach pre-k students English before entering elementary school. I tutored at a learning center, Lil Pirates Learning Center, where majority of students were hispanic in low socioeconomic status.
I chose this specific volunteering project because growing up I personally struggled with learning the English language. When I first entered primary schooling I was placed in an ESOL program because I never had any sort of English lessons prior. In order to help children not face the challenges that I did when I began kindergarten, I created this program and have proudly helped over 10 students assimilate smoothly into the school system. This cause related closely to my passions as well because as an attorney in the future I hope to practice family law and always continue to give back to the community.
I connected with this opportunity by researching and then meeting with a few different learning centers while I was in high school. I spoke to them about my project and many directors seemed to be interested in what I could offer their students although there were a few rude institutions that were just bumps in the road. I ultimately decided to stay at this particular learning center because the environment was exactly what was necessary for my volunteering. The children were so open to learning and the teachers supported me in anything I needed.
Where & What
Throughout the course of my volunteering, the specific things that I have done have changed. Originally I would visit once a week because I was young and could not drive myself. Then I was able to move up to a few times a week and now while in college I visit 1-2 times a week, a few hours each visit. I start off my lessons with the children 1:1. We work on flash cards, learning basic things like colors and shapes in English as well as counting. After I finish the individual lessons, I like to finish with a short story where I read to all of them together. This subliminally reminds them that they’re all going through the same process as well as helps them put together the things that are learning into understanding what the book is about. This is more or less what is looks like on a weekly basis for me. This semester specifically, I have been able to devote more time every visit due to the way my class schedule is laid out. I hope to continue this project for the years to come and eventually pass it down to someone just as passionate.
Overall, my experience through this project has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Getting to see the improvement that children make so quickly when learning a new language has shown me that with determination anything is possible. Although not everything is always picture perfect, the hard days make every virtue even greater. I hope to continue this project in order to impact the lives of others, even if its only one person.