Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tutee Turned Tutor

November Community Service Hours: 7.25
Fall Semester Community Service Hours: 25.75

“Okay, so this is what you do.”
Amused, I watched my student as she assumed an authoritative air, taking on the role of a teacher. I had asked her to explain acids and bases to another student and the transformation was immediate. Encouraged by my occasional nods of agreement, her confidence soared in her knowledge, which has been my goal all along. 
Jordan has been the one constant student since my first day at SciHigh so I feel personally invested in her academic performance. She has blossomed from a largely uninterested pupil to now an eager teacher. I love seeing her excitement, especially when she discovered the other student asked the same questions Jordan herself had asked me moments earlier. Our friendship has grown to the point where she is comfortable asking so-called dumb questions, which I reassured her were actually fundamental to the building blocks of chemistry and stressed the importance of laying a solid foundation in all areas for her future studies.
As a pre-medical student, I have always viewed tutoring as a side activity, failing to acknowledge the similarities to medicine. However, I am fast discovering how fulfilling it is to forge a longitudinal relationship with Jordan. It is rewarding to monitor her progress and celebrate achievements together, much like the satisfaction I derived as a scribe, when I followed patients throughout their hospital stays and beyond. This is what I will be searching for as I pursue a career in medicine; to be a friend, counselor and confidante to my patients and their families. I cannot think of a greater source of contentment than to continue being a role model by showing others this is what I do. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Learning from my Students

“Miss Samantha! Miss Samantha!”
            I looked up to see my student from last week, rushing towards me with nearly palpable excitement. Her voice rang with pride as she revealed the results of a recent exam, the best she’s performed. It was incredibly rewarding to have played a role in her success, satisfying to share my love of chemistry and so very heartwarming to see pride in academic achievements. However, I couldn’t help but wonder that if she’d benefitted thus from my one session with her, how far could she, the other students, or really any of us go with individualized attention? Each of us houses such untapped potential that could be realized with timely encouragement, support, or even a simple nudge in the right direction. Extrapolating further, I wondered about the individuals whose words unknowingly turned me onto my path and whose hands propelled me through obstacles. I sincerely hope that my appreciation for their guidance is reflected in my actions, words and heart of service.
            That night, I thanked my dad for his endless support. I told him about another student earlier who had asked me “how is this going to help pay my bills?” with regards to our lesson on periodic table trends. To my chagrin, I did not have an immediate answer. I have been blessed to always have food in my stomach, clothes on my back and a warm place to sleep. How differently would I have turned out had I had monetary stressors? I still don’t have an answer. All I know is that I want to help these students discover their passions and talents, whether it’s in chemistry or elsewhere. I want to be their tutor, mentor, and maybe even friend. Most of all, I want to see more of my students take pride in their academic accomplishments until they’re literally bursting with the need for others to share in their joy.

October community service hours: 9

Monday, September 26, 2016

Following Love

Time has been a ceaseless flow
Feels as though we just said “hello!”
This year is moving fast to be sure
But in my knowledge I’m very secure
From cancer, anemia and EKG
To arrhythmias, malaria and cardiac physiology
Flying through the Heme-Onc block
Truly was a race against the clock
But with support from professors and friends
I’m piecing together the beginnings and the ends
Of numerous disease pathologies
Juxtaposing our elegant biology
There’s still much to learn, this I concede
I’m pursuing my love, following its lead

But what separates today from the ones past
Is the start of tutoring at SciHigh at last
Jointly detangling the web of mysteries
Renewed my own passion for chemistry
The spark of understanding in her eyes
As we uncovered where her confusion lies
The flash of interest was reason enough
To delve deeper, past the basic to the tough
This joy in teaching and passion to share
Are, for me, scarcely found elsewhere

What other wonders will I see?
This time next month, where will I be?
The adventures here cannot be bought
Nor the friendships formed, the lessons taught
It’s grateful I am, each day I rise
For I am fortunate, this I realize
To love the now and the to-come
This I say without a qualm
I’ve fallen in love without a net
No looking back and no regrets
For NOLA has been so good to me
Where it leads is where I want to be

September community service hours: 5.5

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Wake of Time

This past week there was an important test
Between classes and studying there was no time to rest
More terms to memorize, more notes to review
Wondering if I bit off more than I could chew
Silently I repeatedly declared
After the test I will go out for fresh air
I’ll walk down each street with no goal in mind
No longer the prisoner to my room confined
I’ll window shop to my heart’s desire
Feeling my spirits soar higher and higher
And when I return as a woman freed
I’ll read that book I’ve been wanting to read
And make the dish I’ve been wanting to make
And bake the bread I’ve been wanting to bake

But after the exam foremost in my head
Was not the book, dish or even the bread
But an overwhelming need to sleep
To feel the oblivion dragging me deep
To let go of the weights from that week
And succumb with cool sheets against my cheek
When I awoke the skies were violet hued
The day was gone I glumly conclude
During my slumber I’d been left in Time’s wake
Wondering if I’d made another mistake

Now as I study I’ve come to realize
One can lose much with eyes on the prize
And enjoyment shouldn’t come after the test
To this I can wholeheartedly attest
Even while under the grasps of stress
And the crushing domination of duress
There’s a reason to laugh, a reason to smile
To cherish living all the while
So read your book and eat that cake
Take the dance class you’ve always wanted to take
Sing from your soul until the windows shake
Race with yourself on feet without brakes
And when opportunities come, grab and take
Lest Time leaves you in its wake

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hidden but Seen

Gorgeous. Refreshing. Wonderfully liberating. These adjectives dominated my thoughts as we took a short drive to volunteer at KIPP. The week had just concluded with another great seminar, this time on food and drug reward, and my spirits were high in anticipation of non-academically intensive activities.
            Our duties thus far have been in preparation for the upcoming school year, from helping with bus schedule assignments to organizing the administrative offices. As these tasks were not particularly challenging, I was taken aback by the enthusiasm with which our efforts were met. This then prompted me to wonder at the background workings of a school, and on a grander scale, our daily lives. What other types of backstage activities do we take for granted?
            Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we are all products of a complex support system. Our interests were promoted through encouragements, intellect nurtured by healthy competition, confidence instilled with trust. Different threads in a myriad of colors creating distinctive tapestries, the uniqueness of our paths finds commonality in their countless weavers. By recognizing this truth, we can then appropriately express our appreciation and gratitude for the works of their hands.
            Folding shirts, cataloguing them by color and size and observing the establishment of order emphasized that there is no job too minor to perform, no recognition too insignificant to express. For we are simultaneously weaving and being weaved, jointly contributing to the greatest tapestry of all.

August community service hours: 4

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fortuitous Encounter

            The splash of cold liquid accompanied by melodic clinking of glass catapulted me out of my reverie. To my left, a lady was wiping up her spilled drink while apologizing repeatedly and to my right, a friend rescued my phone. We had just completed our second block exam hours earlier. Though there remains room for improvement, I was much more satisfied with my performance this go around. A couple of friends wanted to grab a quick bite and decompress whereas I just needed to be out of the four walls that had become much too confining. After a week of downpour combined with endless studying, walking somewhere—anywhere—was a real luxury.
            Seeing that she was alone, I started a light conversation with the sole intention of being neighborly. Surprisingly, we quickly veered from the banalities of conventional greetings towards more substantial topics, specifically self-actualization. It is the pinnacle of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, simply stated as the fulfillment of one’s potential. I immediately marveled at the timeliness of this discussion.
            As this year advances, many forces will play a role in molding me, positively or negatively is at my discretion. Would I stay true to my beliefs and values, or bend like a dandelion under the weakest of winds? I am relying on my own experiences and judgment, not societal dictates, when making decisions. A prerequisite to accomplishing this is possession of accurate self-perception and self-acceptance. At the same time, however, I want to be malleable enough to expand my comfort zone, to experience the uniqueness and eccentricities of NOLA with continual appreciation. The combination of history, spontaneous performances and extraordinary cuisine are a few aspects that I hope I never become desensitized to. I want to experience the peak experiences that Maslow spoke of. This year, I want each adventure, each exploration, each unexpected event to be filled with childlike wonder.
            As I mature academically, mentally and experientially, I want to discover where I derive pleasure from. How can I apply my talents such that they benefit those in my vicinity while fulfilling me simultaneously? This lady, who remains nameless in my mind as we never formally introduced ourselves, inadvertently challenged me to be more conscientious of each step of my journey and to live in the moment rather than being overly goal-oriented. Most significantly, she reminded me of the imminent changes and the importance of selective malleability. The counter was dried, my phone escaped unscathed, and I? I was left with a renewed desire for personal growth.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

So It Begins!

            Moving to New Orleans from a suburban area of southern California has surpassed my every expectation. Upon arrival, a stranger kindly helped with my luggage that, in their entirety, weighed more than me! Thus far, his friendly mannerisms appear to be reflected in the majority of the locals here, which is foreign yet awesome. I love that I can walk down a street and be greeted multiple times, or strike up conversations at checkout lines. Prior to moving here, I had been prepared to be overwhelmed by this large metropolitan city, ready to be lost amongst the hordes. However, the mingling of undeniable city vibes with the warmth and familiarity of a small town is just one of the many reasons that NOLA has me in its thrall.
            Attending school in this vibrant city is such a privilege, but I definitely underwent a transitional period. As expected, the lecture material is denser than I am accustomed to, and the sheer quantity of information we must master is just short of inundating. For the first block exams, I devoted myself to pre-class readings and post-lecture reviews. However, I was disappointed that my score did not accurately reflect my understanding. Thus, I am learning to study more efficiently, to focus on the overall implications rather than succumbing to impedance by minute details. This is now the driving force behind my pursuit of betterment.
            I have yet to begin community service, but I can hardly wait! As an immigrant, community service was the venue through which I established my place in California. Now I would like to do the same here in New Orleans. Given my passion for education and the desire to perpetuate a love of learning, I have decided to spend time with SciHigh this year, hopefully tutoring a science-related subject.
            Though this year has just begun, it promises to be filled with all sorts of adventures that I am really looking forward to! I am so glad to be living in Deming Pavilion, not only for its convenience but for the friendships I have already formed with fellow residents. Maybe our bonds were reinforced by our proximity, but I already cannot envision this year without them. Our different backgrounds, habits and preferences are well balanced, our strengths and weaknesses complementary. I feel unbelievably fortunate for the opportunity to learn from this incredible group of individuals and to explore this unique city with them!