Sometimes all it takes to create change is the resources you have around you. Using a webcam and free online resources, honor student Melinda Wang provides free online peer-to-peer tutoring for K-12 students locally and globally, helping young people build a solid academic foundation..
Both on her own and through her involvement with Education Beyond the Classroom, a non-profit organization started by high school students in San Diego, Melinda has tutored more than 20 pupils through individual sessions and in excess of 100 students in a group setting.
Her efforts began at a local library, working one-on-one with underprivileged students in San Diego. And through the many advances of online connectivity, the reach of Melinda’s instructional insight has made a positive impact on students as far away as China and India. According to Melinda, the primary focus of her volunteer tutoring activity in China is to help students prepare for the English section of the Gao Kao, the national Chinese college entrance exam.
“I remember my first online lesson with international students very clearly,” Melinda recalls. “I had prepared for hours to make sure my first lesson went well. By the end, I thought it was a failure, as the students did not reply or answer my questions. I was warned about their shyness, but was not prepared for the dead silence that met every question.” Melinda remembers her parents sitting across from her, giving her strange looks and re-checking the Internet connection, thinking there was no one on the other end to hear the lesson. But the lessons picked up steam and Melinda’s pupils abroad became more engaged. “Looking back on it, I find it especially funny, as the students now actively participate in class,” says Melinda.
Melinda has found success in recruiting other high school students from California and other states to sign on as volunteer tutors to serve local youth. The appeal for these high-achieving, young tutors to participate is strong because the schools they attend require community service projects in order to graduate. What’s more, the colleges they hope to attend look for candidates with a demonstrated passion for community involvement.
Melinda’s message to young people about the importance of giving back comes straight from the heart: “During this time in your life when you are (relatively) free from the restraints of bills and full-time jobs, volunteering is a way to make a difference by simply giving up a bit of your time. Students often complain about the problems of the world (poverty, homelessness, etc.), so why not try to start making changes now? It’s important to remember that even helping one person is removing a piece of the problem. And if there are many others doing the same, the number of those in need will decrease. If you’ve been lucky enough to get a good education, please help others get one as well.”
Dedicating about six hours per week to enthusiastically sharing her knowledge of science, technology, engineering, math and foreign languages with other youth, Melinda is making a difference in the lives of young learners. This Daily Point of Light’s good deeds are moving more future leaders to the head of the class.
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