So this semester was my second time around as a volunteer for ARCSmart.  Although waking up early on Friday mornings are sometimes rough, I always have my travel mug of coffee handy to get me ready for a group of eager sixth graders. But enough about my coffee addiction, I volunteered for a second time with this program because of the positive experience I’ve had with the program. It’s a fun, tiring learning experience all tied into one.

Not being an archaeology major, I get to learn along with the kids about the artifacts we bring in. Or at the very least, I get a refresher course on what I did learn when I was younger. It’s also a nice break from memorizing and conjugating Russian verbs (I know, the life of an undergrad is rough). The only downside is I don’t have any cool stories of field work to tell them. Ah well, we can’t all be as cool as the archaeology majors at USC. (But hey, isn’t travelling to Russia this summer cool too?)

The different sessions of the program include a day of artifact handling, working with Inscriptifact and Google maps.

Of course the best part of the program is the final day when the class plays Jeopardy. Obviously it’s not the best day because it’s the last day but instead it’s when we get to see what the students have learned over the course of the program. And of course, this is also the day when the competitive nature of the class comes out and who doesn’t love a good competition? After the game, the kids are allowed to ask us questions about our lives as USC students outside of the classroom: “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Do you go to parties a lot?” etc. Understandably our answers are kid friendly but it’s cool nonetheless to find out what their perspective of college life is.

Talking to these kids, I find out what they want to do when they become our age: engineers, football players and some haven’t thought about their future yet and worry that they won’t be able to attend college. Growing up, going to college was never a doubt in my mind, in fact I knew it was expected of me. Universities whether public or private are difficult to pay for for many families today. Were it not for my financial aid I would not be where I am now. Actually being an undergrad and working with local kids, makes me want to tell these kids that college is an attainable goal for everyone. It may not be easy, but it’s attainable. Sometimes I forget about the community outside of the walls of the university but volunteering and interacting in the local environment helps me come to my senses.

Now the downside of the last day of the program: having to say goodbye. As much as I love sleeping in on Fridays, knowing that I won’t be seeing them anymore is always hard. It’s a good feeling knowing that I imparted some knowledge to these kids and hopefully I made a positive impact on their educational future.