Written by Mufan Xu, service-learning publication arts student
Mufan served with 826 Boston’s Writers Room at Burke High school through the First-Year Writing course with Sebastian Stockman in Spring 2017
My service-learning experience at the Burke High School has been a unique and memorable experience. In the past month, I have grown from an insecure and inexperienced tutor to a competent tutor who is familiar with how the Writer’s Room operates and how to tutor students.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could be a good tutor and actually help the students when I first started tutoring. Even though I had tutoring experience in the past, I only worked with elementary students. Tutoring students who were close to my own age seemed a little intimidating and I wasn’t sure how to approach them and help them. I was pretty nervous when I went to my first shift and it was very challenging. I remember it was a 10th grade history class that was writing about the U.S. involvement in WWII. My biggest challenge during that shift was just getting the students to work. Most students had a hard time focusing and staying on task. A lot of them were sitting and chatting with their friends instead of doing work. I tried approaching several students but they were all very non-responsive. I was pretty hopeless and discouraged until Tara, the volunteer coordinator at the Writer’s Room, came to help. She immediately connected with the students and started helping them by asking questions about the assigned readings they were supposed to do. I learned a lot by just watching her interactions with the students. The briefing we do at the end of each shift also helped me become a better tutor. During theses briefings, I was able to share the struggles I had with tutoring and get advice from other tutors. I was also able to listen to their challenges and what they did to overcome the challenges.
Despite the challenges, volunteering at the Burke has been a very rewarding experience. Especially when a student I tutored before asked me for help again the second time I saw him. I am really glad that the Writer’s Room exists. It is really a very great resource that the students can use. As this semester is winding down, I do not have too many shifts left. I look forward to finishing my shifts and working with the students.