My New World View

WITSPartnerships, Volunteers

The clare volutneering at WITS

By Virginia W., WITS Volunteer from The Clare

Most Tuesday mornings this past summer I was transported into a new and stunningly different world…one where everything is very logical, simple and honest, and I learned many important life lessons such as: It’s comforting to have a hand to hold on to, a book to look at and a story to listen to. I learned that if you could spell your name, that is good; if you can be a “friend,” that is even better; and if you can remember to hold up your hand when you have to go potty, that is best of all.

Virginia reading with a WITS student

Virginia reading with a WITS student

This new world enveloped me like a warm blanket while library paste filled my nostrils and glitter clung to my clothes. Sticky little hands reached out to hold mine and expectant eyes twinkled with love and energy.

I learned to think and listen in a new way. My world was turned upside down and inside out and backwards for a few cherished hours while I was immersed in four-year-old life, outlook and logic as a WITS volunteer at Holden Elementary School.

A few examples:

Antonio asked his aunt if she’d promise to always be around for him to come visit, and she explained that she would try, but if a time came that she wasn’t there he could always remember her and their good times together. “NO! I want you to promise!” he said and I understood.

Then there was Francesca, who showed me she knew how to cross herself, and then look up—the latter being very important because (she whispered to me) “God, you know, is on the roof.”

I asked Yi-Ming if he spoke Chinese at home. “Yes” he said, and proudly added, “At school I speak Chicago.”

“How old are you?” Maggie queried, studying my face. “How old do you think,” I countered. She thought for a minute, then, “My mom is 30, so you’re prob’ly 30-100.”

In fact, I felt four-years old again, with sticky hands, full of great expectations, smelling library paste, covered with glitter—more alive than I have ever been in my life!

WITS literacy mentors make up the largest volunteer corps serving Chicago Public Schools.

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