NC Afterschool Corps reflection: Finding Appreciation in Service

January 29, 2018
Katherin is placed at Duke’s Community Service Center, which is celebrating its 40th year.

Guest Post by Katherin Castillo

Hello everyone! My name is Katherin Castillo and I am currently the Afterschool Corps VISTA for Duke University’s Community Service Center for the 2017-2018 year. It is hard to believe that I have been in this position for the past five months! Time has really flown by. This semester I have been working with America Reads America Counts, which is a program that focuses on tutoring students in K-8 in Math and Literacy. However, a big component of my role as well is coordinating the Learning Juntos program.

Learning Juntos is a program that focuses on educating parents on resources that can be utilized to help their child succeed in school. These sessions are in Spanish and facilitated by Duke student volunteers. We are currently serving 2 sites, George Watts Elementary and Club Blvd Elementary. However with all of this in mind, if I have to express this past semester with one word, that word would be: “appreciation.”

According to Oxford Dictionaries, appreciation is defined as “recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” With this being said, I have learned to appreciate that this position has challenged me to overcome obstacles that have come my way. I have learned to appreciate the skills that I am learning and utilizing each and every day. I have learned to appreciate the volunteers, students, staff, and parents who have an interest in bettering their community. In late July, I honestly did not know what to expect at my service site. I am from Mt. Airy, a small town in western North Carolina, so the thought of doing community work in a city frightened me. The thought of having to work with community organizations, schools in the Durham public school system, and students and staff from Duke University was very nerve-wracking as well. However, I am a strong believer that if you put your mind to a certain goal or objective, then you will be able to accomplish it!

A Learning Juntos session.

The first few weeks, I was set to learn the ropes of both programs. I got a grasp of the history, the events hosted, and the partnerships that were formed with local programs. I entered my service year right when the program was in its most important stage of recruiting students and preparing for training. I interviewed students for America Reads America Counts but also set out to find students to interview for Learning Juntos. I reached out to local student groups and waited to hear a response. To be honest, I had to send out multiple reminders! However, I now have around 10 passionate Duke students dedicated to working with the Latino community in Durham. Both sites have around 5-12 parents show up to the sessions and all parents seem to be engaged in the material presented. I am very happy to see the parents return to the workshops each month! One of my favorite parts about my service year is building the relationships with the Duke students and families! Moments like these remind me why I decided to take on the NC Afterschool Corps position at Duke University.

“Gracias, es muy bueno saber que alguien le interesa trabajar para nosotras las mamas que hablamos español.”

This statement was made by one of the mothers in the LJ session. This quote translates to: “Thank you, it is very good to know that someone is interested in working for us moms who speak Spanish.” A comment such as this one goes a long way! It allows me to continue with my dedication to the program and overall, it allows me to appreciate those around me who have worked hard to make amazing programs like this continue. I am excited to continue my service at Duke for the next 6 months!

ARE YOU A GRADUATE OR GRADUATING SENIOR who’s ready to support the important work of afterschool programs in NC while strengthening connections between colleges and communities?
Consider A YEAR OF SERVICE with the NC AFTERSCHOOL CORPS, an AmeriCorps VISTA program sponsored by NC Campus Compact! Learn more.