By Allyson Burgess
My experience teaching the children at Edgehill Community Center has been beyond rewarding. As I pulled into the parking lot last Friday for my monthly lesson, the kids rushed to the window and started cheering at my arrival. I will keep that precious moment forever in my memory; it made me feel like I was having as big of an impact on their lives as they were on mine.
I entered the room to find past crafts of elephant masks and decorated aprons on the walls. I always start my lesson with a brief summary of everything I have taught them so far. After a quick quiz, I introduced the December lesson: Japanese culture. In just a short hour, the kids were immersed into The Land of the Rising Sun. They all tried sushi for the first time. Some of the kids made faces when they tried it, but some of them fell in love with it. When just a few kids are able to open their minds to try something new, I know my lesson is a success.
I also taught them how to make an origami swan, penguin, and Christmas tree for them to put on their tree at home because it is very common in Japan to use origami as ornaments. After much trial and error, the kids created something very special that had significance to them. Then, the kids decorated karate headbands before a brief fitness lesson where Japanese numbers were incorporated into a game.
By comparing cultural customs, the kids find all the different countries I teach fascinating. They are starting to recognize the origin of certain American customs, and I truly believe this will be a stepping stone towards furthering their ambitions and goals for their lives ahead.
Allyson Burgess, a senior at Davidson Academy, is one of 12 HON Youth Volunteer Corps Interns, serving in the inaugural 2011-2012 class. These remarkable leaders are currently working with local nonprofits to engage young Nashvillians in educational and skill-building experiences in the arts, fitness/nutrition, and gardening/food security. Allyson leads arts/health projects at Edgehill Community Center one Friday a month.