I first heard about 826
Chicago when I moved to the Windy City back in August 2010 and
knew immediately that I wanted to volunteer with the program.
826CHI is the local chapter of 826 National, a string of
non-profit writing and tutoring centers around the country. Here in
Chicago, volunteers work with students 6 to 18 during after-school
tutoring, in-school tutoring and class fieldtrips to the 826 center
in Wicker Park.
Two and a half years after my move, I finally signed up for
volunteer orientation. I blame my college habits of procrastinating
and an adjustment period to life in the "real world".
During volunteer orientation, I came up with the idea for this
blog. A place to share what I'm learning while I work with students
and how those lessons are a reflection of our community. My hope is
that our readers can take something from these volunteer adventures
Today I had my first volunteer experience with 826 at an
in-school session. It made me feel old, especially because none of
the students in the class knew about the Tanya Harding/Nancy
Kerrigan scandal (we told them it was like reality TV before
reality TV existed). Part of that whole feeling old thing was the
realization that even though I'm only 24, being a kid now is a lot
different now than it was when I was in school. And growing up in
Chicago in 2013 is a lot different than growing up in the suburbs
of Metro Detroit in the '90s... although I was asked by a student
if I've met Eminem, so I guess some celebrities have made it
through two generations.
My goal with this project, and with this blog, is to better
understand the young communities across Chicago. I plan to share
what I learn, as I'm learning it, on ChicagoParent.com. I'll also
talk more about each volunteer session, what we're working on and
more about 826CHI. I hope it will inspire our readers to get
involved in their own communities as well. At the very least, I
know we'll meet some great students along the way.
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.
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