Olivia Sandin is a sophomore in Social Work and Women’s and Gender Studies at NC State. Last year, she was a mentor at the Women’s Center and this year is her first year as a part-time AmeriCorps member. Read her account of the annual Campus Visit Day.
This past Wednesday, my site (the NC State Women’s Center), hosted our annual Campus Visit Day. Every Veteran’s Day, we invite our all of our site partners to visit NC State’s campus. We work with the College of Education, Campus Rec, SAY Living and Learning Village, and Poe Library to plan the day for the kids we had coming.
In all, we had a little over 60 kids come from three of our sites: Neighbor to Neighbor, Boys and Girls Club and East Cary Middle School. We split the kids up into five groups by age. I was the team leader for a group of kids in grades K-3 from the Boys and Girls Club site.
When the kids got off the bus, I got my group together and we headed up to the library in one of our on campus buildings. There, our partners at Poe Library and the College of Education had set up a bunch of stations for the kids, including coloring, making buttons and using technology to make things fly and light up (which I didn’t even quite get, but our kids are so clever!) Next, students from the College of Education read a book to my kids and made wolf masks with them (our school mascot — the Wolfpack- Go Pack!)
Then, I took the kids to their favorite part of the day, lunch at one of our dining halls. They loved the freedom to eat as much of whatever they wanted and were really excited about our Howling Cow ice cream. Then I took them back to the library for Veteran’s Day story time. I told them about how both my parents were in the military and they were really interested in how I had grown up. Then, I read them a book called Ashley’s High Five for Daddy, which describes the process military families experience on the return of their loved one from deployment. We discussed how hard it is for our veterans to do what they do, and my kids expressed their gratitude and appreciation for their bravery. Most of my kids thought that only men could be in the military, so I read them a book called Goodnight Captain Mama, which was in both English and Spanish. I used this as an opportunity to engage my learners and had them take turns reading the English while I read the Spanish. They said that they liked this book because it made them rethink their idea that only men were in the military and they were really appreciative of all of that. I told them to channel their gratitude into a thank you card for our veterans, and they all made cards.
We then took the kids to participate in “These Hands Don’t Hurt” with Sara Forcella, the rape prevention coordinator at the Women’s Center. The kids took a pledge to never use their hands to hurt another person. We ended the day by going to Campus Rec to play games with the kids and help them get some energy out.
I am so grateful for this experience. A lot of these kids don’t even know what college looks like or is. It’s amazing to get to share my school, basically my home, with these kids I’ve gotten to care about so much. Watching them enjoy themselves and learn in a place that has given me so much is incomparable. I think that by showing these kids college and allowing them to be in this space, we made it a reality. All of these kids have the potential to reach college; it is only the resources they are lacking. I believe that Read to L.E.A.D. and AmeriCorps give them these resources and I can’t wait to see where they will go with what they learned at NC State this week.