Wednesday, January 4, 2012

After waking up ridiculously early, we were on the road by 8:00 a.m. Our destination: Allapattah Middle School, where we will spend the rest of the week with City Year, dividing our time between the aesthetics of the campus/building, and tutoring the students. In the morning, the Hopkins crew was teamed up with Broward, and we were assigned the task of repainting the basketball court. It was cold, with the wind dragging down the temperature even more, but it was cool to see our project come together into a noticeably nicer court.
After lunch, we had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Leonid Feldman, the first Russian to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States. He spoke about the question asked and answered by the book of Genesis: Am I my brother’s keeper? He related it to the Jewish quest for social justice, and the fact that it took generations of familial betrayal – Noah and his contemporaries, Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, Jacob and Esau, Jacobs twelve sons – before Joseph finally forgives his brothers and answers the question in the affirmative; as a people, we have an obligation to fight for our brothers and sisters. Rabbi Feldman linked the Biblical story to his own background; as a dissident to the USSR, he was imprisoned and was released thanks to the persistence of the worldwide Jewish population to support the “illegal” Jews of the Soviet Union.
When his speech was over, a panel of City Year workers answered questions we might have about the program, and it seems like a valuable and interesting approach to improving the American educational system. When that was over, we were put into small groups, which were each assigned a class to assist. In my case, I was paired up with a sixth grader named Chastity, and was told to teach her about proportions in fractions – the planned lesson for tomorrow. It was rewarding to work with her and accomplish my goal, but at the same time it was disheartening to see people with such fewer educational advantages that I had and continue to have. It makes me respect City Year even more.
We were rewarded at the end of the day with a night out on Lincoln Road, a cute shopping area in Miami Beach. So far, this trip has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see it through!

No comments:

Post a Comment