Creating Social Value Blog / Service in Action

Summer Corps Week 5

As I sat in the front seat of a classroom watching the students of Verizon Innovative Learning program present their business ideas, I couldn’t stop thinking about the how each and every one of them have changed from the beginning of the program to who they are now.

When I walked into the program on the first day, I wanted to walk right back out because most of these kids didn’t know English and they weren’t even interested in business. One of my students even went out of her way to specify that she wasn’t interested in business every time a presenter said the word ‘business’. Only 2 of the 25 students spoke to me on the first day, it’s safe to say that it was a very bad first day at the job. At an environment like Babson, students search for an opportunity to talk and contribute their perspectives in class, I went in with the mindset that these students will want to participate too, I was in for an unexpected surprise. The first week comprised of me getting my group of students to talk to me, they were a hard shell to crack, I was very discouraged.

The second week was a little better, they students were finally starting to talk to me. At this point, I concentrated on getting to know them on a personal level, I found out that most of these students haven’t been in the US for more than 8 months, they had to adapt to a whole different education system and language. They shared with me that they have so much to contribute but didn’t feel comfortable because of the huge language barrier. This gave me hope because I knew that they wanted to learn a lot of skill from this program.

The third and the fourth week were the best weeks for me as a mentor, these kids stared to participate and they got comfortable around me enough to address me as “Mathi” opposed to “Miss Mathi” or “Madam”. These kids motivated and inspired me to be a better mentor. Their curiosity and boldness not only surprised me but surprised their teachers too.

The fifth week was very bittersweet, the students were preparing for their final. Not only did they make a professional presentation, they also made a website on Weebly and designed an app on Balsamic. This is something that sophomores learn to do at Babson. During the last day of the program, the business idea and the business presentation these students presented impressed executives working in corporate companies. It was very heartbreaking to say goodbye to the people who I spent my past month with but they assured me by saying that they now know how to leverage their networks and that I’ll be hearing from them soon. The growth I have witnessed on these students is incredible. I saw the impact that the Office of Faith and Service had on high school children and I am so honored to have worked in such a program.

-Mathi Harikrishnan