A Day as a Sandwich

Photo of Nguyen Vu at Pre-K preparing for meal time.

If my day is compared to a sandwich, prayer time would be my bread. When I get up and when I lie down, meditations help me offer the day to God and reflect on my actions. The 25-minute walking distance between the volunteer house and the volunteer site never feels that long because I would be praying throughout the walk.

Pre-K is where the meat of the day is at. My first responsibility at the site is to distribute breakfast to each classroom. On a normal day, I will open the gate and greet each child by name when they arrive at 8:15 AM and then at 2 PM while they are on their way home. Every 30 to 60 minutes, I would rotate between each class to support teachers and have constructive interactions with the children. The kids look forward to lunch the most during the day, so I dash to distribute it before they get hangry. After the kids get picked up by their parents/guardians, I help teachers clean up their classrooms and set up for the following day.

At 3:15 PM, I make a walk toward the gym, the vegetable of the sandwich, on the way back home. While some people don’t like vegetables, I love veg to the point of obsession because it is good for me. Going to the gym strengthens me physically and emotionally. If I have any frustrations in Pre-K, they are channeled through the weights I lift.

Speaking of Pre-K frustrations, there can be plenty of them. One being some kids are sent to school when they are visibly sick, which can make other kids and teachers get sick. Other times, it can be difficult to care for kids who don’t understand their negative behavior. While I understand that it is an exercise in patience, being short-staffed and needing additional resources can make the experience stressful. Through these challenges, it is a reminder to me as to why I am here serving these children. Sometimes they would beg me to stay or ask me if they would see me again after they wake up from their nap. I feel fortunate to play a part in their lives.

It wouldn’t be a day of a FrancisCorps volunteer without community (the sauce). The two consistent things we do together are pray and share dinner, which varies every night depending on the member on the rotation. There is a rotation for almost everything: community night, faith-sharing, chores, etc. The regularity of rotation opens me to diverse experiences, styles, and personalities. I very much enjoy everyone’s stories and humor. Simply listening to other members and watching the things they’re doing can give me joy. There is so much laughter in this community, which is surprising for one with so many introverts.

It is also surprising that the community is where I discover more of who I am. I like to learn more about my fellow volunteers rather than my community learning more about me despite knowing that the community is my family for the year. This is because of the walls that I made for myself which can lead to misunderstanding. But something I’ve learned so far this year is that the more I’m willing to risk when I am vulnerable, the more happiness I can receive. I just need more time to internalize this lesson.

Categories: General

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