Whether it was babysitting for my neighbors, working at after school care or tutoring local kids, I always seemed to find myself partaking in activities that centered around children. Ever since I entered high school, I found myself becoming more and more involved with children. Even now, as a college sophomore, when asked about the activities I’m involved in and what things I’ve done on campus, a vast majority of my extracurricular activities are youth outreach programs or teaching jobs. I think there’s a number of different reasons why people love working with kids, but let me tell you my reason why.
I used to like to think that I was the one helping these children by imparting my wise knowledge and acting as the older sister they never had, but working with the kids at Debate It Forward has really made me think that this relationship is more of a two-way street. I still like to think that I’m imparting some sort of wisdom and that I am helping them grow, but in a different kind of way, I think I am the one who learns from them. Kids just have such a unique perspective on life and such a fresh way of thinking that I can’t help but think that I am incredibly lucky to be able to interact with all these smart, talented and driven kids through Debate It Forward.
I think one of my favorite moments of DIF was when I was teaching a class of first graders and we played, “The Line Game.” In this game, students are asked to place themselves on an imaginary spectrum of whether they agree or disagree with a statement and then different students are called on to state their argument for their positioning and see if they can persuade other students to come join them. In what seems like such a simple game, I was able to observe the most amazing display of open-mindedness. Even more astounding is that each student possesses such an innate sense of confidence in themselves and are not too prideful to discard the opinions of others. In this way, they are able to acknowledge that they don’t always have the best answers. To witness a group of seven and eight year olds not only articulate their own opinions on difficult topics, but also listen and change their previous beliefs was a truly humiliating experience.
All in all, from the silliest debates over whether or not cake should be eaten for breakfast to more serious discussions over the topic of gun control and school safety, my experience with the students at DIF has only been more rewarding as each week passes by. I find myself increasingly more excited to not simply help them or watch them grow, but to grow and develop with them as well.
The kids are alright after all.