Tutor reflections…

My name is Claire Liu and I am a junior at Gunn High School and I’m the current lead at Monta Loma Elementary School. I’ve been volunteering with Buddies4Math for a relatively short amount of time - a little over a year now. Although my time here has been shorter than some, I believe that it has been well spent and was very enriching. At the beginning of last year, when I first joined B4M, I remember attending a small event and met a bunch of the kids there. One thing that has stuck to me this past year was when a group of 2nd graders came up to my table and started playing a math game with me. Although we were supposed to rotate every few minutes, they stayed at our activity for the majority of the event and we all talked and laughed the whole time. This moment was special to me, because it reminded me of why I would come back every week and how I loved to see the kids open up and have so much fun during our sessions. When we transitioned into online sessions, I feared that we wouldn’t get as much of a chance to engage with the other students and build deep connections. But, all my fears were quickly washed away as I realized that all the students were very open and outgoing. We would chat during our warm ups/icebreakers and get to know each other better. After winter break, during our first session back, one of the kids even said “Yay, Buddies4Math is here!”. Hearing that warmed my heart and further enforced my love for volunteering here. It made me realize how important our relationships were with each other and how valuable the time spent here was. Every week, I am always happily surprised at their enthusiasm and willingness to learn and I’m so grateful to have met these kids and worked with them for the past year.
My name is Yana Gulati and I am currently a freshman at Sacred Heart. I have been participating in the Buddies4Math program for a little over two years now. The connection one can build with the kids and the sense of a close community that appears in the tutoring is what keeps drawing me back. The students at Monta Loma were always gregarious and open and just through one session of math and getting to know each other, both the student and I would look forward to greeting each other the next week. Despite the challenges that the pandemic provided, the virtual program was nothing short of what I had previously experienced. Even in front of a screen, the students wanted to put in effort and mutually build a connection with the tutors. One Friday, when we were going around for our weekly icebreaker routine to get the students ready and open to participate, I got a private message from Xion. She asked me simple but important questions, even trying to guess my age and my favorite color. We began briefly messaging to get to know each other more and at the end of our short one-minute chat, she responded to me with “I really like you Yana, you are one of two my friends here!” All in such a short span I was left with a smile on my face for the small friendship and familiarity I had formed with her. This very moment was an example of why Buddies4Math meant so much to me because of how I could easily bond with the students and start longer friendships. From that day on, I always received a private message from her greeting me. I was able to meet more students and get to know them more through our different forms of learning such as icebreakers, virtual games, virtual trips across the world that included fun math problems, and even reading to each other. Through these various methods, Buddies4Math still managed to do what it had always done for me and for the students through allowing us to build meaningful bonds and learn new things – not just about math, but about each other.
My name is Shiven Patel and I am a sophomore at Bellarmine. I have been tutoring in the Buddies4Math program for around four years and I can’t imagine spending my friday any other way. With four years of tutoring I have been able to develop a deeper connection with the students as they have growth throughout their elementary school years. I have had the great opportunity to watch individual students grow and work, as the years tick by and they move on to middle school. Watching the students open up and grow has brought me back every year, and I am so glad we were able to persevere through the conditions of the pandemic to continue the program. No matter the challenges, our tutores and the students continued to join a call each friday, eager to learn and have fun! A fond memory of teaching during the pandemic was during the first session on a friday when I was in a breakout room of a zoom call with three students. Each student sat up looking at the screen, anxious to see the next question of the game. In fact we were running through problems in our game so fast, I had to start making up random questions to keep the game going! As our game and time was coming to an end and the students were leaving one said “thank you, this made my day.” As you may assume, I smiled (for the next 5 minutes). If you had told me that Buddies4Math could make the same impact on my life then when I joined in 7th grade I would have questioned it, but while spending time with the students and helping them learn while showing them a fun time a sense of community occurs. One that has impacted my life greatly. I am really grateful I was able to teach the students this year, as It may have been harder virtually, and I am equally appreciative of the opportunity to grow bonds and connections through learning.
My name is Anushka Basu and I am a junior at Gunn High School. I have been working with Buddies4Math since middle school and have loved this program ever since I started volunteering here. I have worked in both Landels and Monta Loma over the course of my years and the children I have helped have always been so sweet and eager to learn, it’s easy to tell they are genuinely enjoying the math games we play together. I have seen children come and go, watched them grow, and have had inspiring connections with them. One such moment was last year when a girl named Haydi joined the group, who was unable to speak English. By utilizing my Spanish speaking skills, I was able to connect with her on a close level, and I soon found myself getting hugged by this little girl every week, as she grinned from ear to ear after each fun filled math session. Going online has made 2020 a year unlike any other for Buddies, but tutoring the children on Zoom has been just as fun and engaging as it was before the pandemic. Creating Google Tours was a unique and exciting experience, and the children have been enjoying it just as much by going all around the world to solve math problems. One of my fondest memories online was during a math game when a boy named Erik would always eagerly raise his hand up with the correct answer for each problem, to the point I had to lightheartedly say the other kids had to answer them as well. I was amazed by how intelligent he was for his age and was so happy he was enjoying learning so much. To this day, Friday afternoons have become one of my favorite times of the week, as getting to bond and teach the children every week for the last 4 years has been an amazing experience that I wouldn’t give up for the world.