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Give Chances, a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to create and provide education programs for individuals with disabilities and children from low-income families

by Yaeram Lee

Heaps of projects never started, handful of assignments not completed, home cluttered. Finding my true passion in this situation was extremely difficult. I had to discover my “dream job” before a certain deadline- high school graduation. With school assignments piling up and a messy environment, it was even more difficult to think straight. I had volunteered at a number of different places that had some correlation to my numerous passions, but I eventually began to cross my passions off the list. Then came an opportunity for me to try something new. I would teach math- a subject I had grown to tolerate-to low-income children (fourth-fifth graders). Looking back now, it was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. Most of the projects I had designed with my friends were a one-time thing- Instagram accounts, posters/flyers, writing letters- but this particular project required persistence. I soon quickly realized that my chaotic nature would be the biggest obstacle in completing this challenge. 

I first began by designing the outline of the curriculum. It had been years since I had been in fourth/fifth grade, so I had to research what level of math they were exposed to. The goal of the math camp was to allow the students to feel free to make any mistakes and allow them to really understand the concepts instead of performing functions systematically. I went through numerous worksheets, papers, workbooks, and videos on how to help the student understand. In the end, I included some challenging topics such as logarithms and exponents.

When it came time for me to actually teach, I realized how experience-less I was. It was so difficult to keep up with the time schedule that I had made and most of the problems I picked out were too easy for these students. As I progressed throughout the week, I was surprised at how much I had underestimated these students. They kept up with the homework assignments I had given and asked insightful questions on the lesson topics. In the end, I was even able to teach them some logarithmic rules- a topic for sixth-eighth graders.  

Through my experience, I realized that persistence and time management was the key to finding my true passion. The students, who were six years younger than me, had better self-control than I did. When I looked around my own environment, all of the projects that I had begun were piled up in the numerous notebooks- never to be finished. Inspired by my students, I began to go through them one by one and devised a plan on how to execute them. 

Currently, I have found a passion of mine that I have yet to expand. I cannot say for sure whether this is teaching, but forming a teaching program has definitely helped me understand the steps of expanding an interest into a career. I strongly advise anyone who is lost in finding their own passion and struggling to keep up with time management to try forming a project with adults and friends. Who knows? You may be surprised by the results. 

Yaeram Lee is currently a junior attending Fort Lee High School and is a volunteer at Give Chances. She was a FREAD Learning Program mentor throughout her sophomore year and also tutored many students throughout her middle school and high school years. She recently did a project with Give Chances Organization on teaching low-income children algebra topics and logical thinking.

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