For many, Friday marks the beginning of a weekend oftentimes reserved for relaxation, dining out, and catching up on one’s favorite movies and television shows — a stereotype especially attributed to college students. While this may hold true for some, members of Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association at the University of Texas have a different way of enjoying their weekend.
Every Friday afternoon, members of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association spend their time tutoring students from low-income families. It’s not only enjoyable for these volunteers, but also a means of helping students who could use a bit of extra support. They are there to help students catch up with their school work, and become more confident in their studies.
Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association began tutoring at Andrew’s Primary School in 2014. In 2017, Overton Primary School became the second location for tutoring. Students who attend these two schools are principally of Mexican descent, children of refugees, and students from lower-income communities.
Most of the students who come to the tutoring center are 4th or 5th graders. Each week, there are approximately 25 students and 20 volunteer tutors. These one-hour tutoring sessions support a nearly one-on-one teaching environment, which helps the students learn in an effective way.
Hsiao Tao has been participating in tutoring since his freshman year. This is his fourth year here.
Hsiao believes that with the help of the right teacher, a good study environment, and the proper resources, kids will be far more likely to be successful in the future. Students from low-income families have access to far fewer resources, and so he is grateful to be able to contribute his two hours per week toward helping them. “It’s worth the time to change the life of a kid,” he expressed.
“When my student told me she liked her tutor, that was an amazing feeling. It makes me very happy. Even though they don’t talk much, I know they want my help to pass the exams. I feel happy for them. This is the main reason why I keep coming here to tutor,” Ling Ming-Lung said excitedly.
Helping students with their studies brings forth a deep sense of fulfillment for Twasif, who has been tutoring for two years. Twasif also takes time to get to know and understand more about his students, and seeks out the best methods for teaching and advancing their studies. His hope is for his students to achieve a bright future through their hard work.
Breanna Smith, who aspires to earn a degree in math, also holds this hope for the success of each student.
Tina Coba, a teacher at Overton School who has been collaborating with the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association, bonded with Tzu Chi over their combined effort to tutor students. She thanked Tzu Chi, and even shared her knowledge of the foundation’s international humanitarian footprint with her family and friends.
“Students have made great progress thanks to Tzu Chi Collegiate volunteers,” Tina said. “One student, for example, who has fallen behind a lot, has now caught up with his studies.”
“These volunteers not only help the students with their school work, but also boost their confidence in learning,” said Ms. Coba. “They became the students’ friends and guides. They brought hope to the students. Now the kids are talking about their college dreams. I saw the kids go from being perplexed at the beginning to really looking forward to seeing their tutors.”
Members of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association, according to Tina, brought a positive culture to the school.
In Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teachings of Chapter 19 in the Lotus Sutra, she has said that although the tongue may serve multiple functions, encouraging and teaching others is what is known as the ‘merit of the tongue.’ These young members of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association are tutors; perhaps they are not the most experienced of teachers as of yet. But even so, they bring much-needed hope to children with this ‘merit of the tongue,’ inspiring goodness through their words, and providing good role models for students in need.