Malik and Me: Adventures in Reading and Writing with FLOC

When I moved to Washington, DC in June 2012, I wanted to volunteer with an organization in the area where I could work one-on-one with someone to have a sense of consistency and to have a more tangible grasp on how my time was making a difference.  When I found FLOC, through the recommendation of a friend-of-a-friend, it was icing on the cake that I found an organization where I would not only serve my community, but also strengthen my skills in curriculum development and lesson planning.

The first day I met Malik, I knew FLOC had made a great match.  We completed the getting-to-know-you worksheets in his guidebook and learned about the countries and places we wanted to visit and our favorite subjects in school.  I learned that Malik had visited my hometown, Virginia Beach, and that he likes to go fishing with his grandfather.  I shared some stories from my time in Mali, where I served for close to four years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and Malik told me about the West African drumming he does in school.  Who knew that I would find so much in common with a 6th grade boy?

Four months later, I still look forward to every Tuesday evening when Malik and I meet at FLOC headquarters for two hours in Adams Morgan.  We use a curriculum guide to get his reading and writing up to his grade level and a vocabulary workbook to improve Malik’s store of words.  We’ll read aloud, or silently, from one of his favorite books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and we usually wrap up our sessions with a rousing game of Connect Four or Monopoly.  I love learning more about Malik and seeing him flourish as a student.  I think he likes having two hours of undivided attention and seeing his reading and writing improve so much.

It’s already early February and Malik and I only have a couple more months together before summer break.  As I look ahead, I hope that we can maintain the momentum we’ve had thus far and continue to enjoy our time together as much as it seems we both have.  I continue to learn from Malik about what it means to be a sensitive, curious and joyful person and I hope I can share some of my qualities with Malik, too.  When I moved to Washington, DC I wanted to be able to see how my time was making an impact.  It’s such a treat to work with Malik and see the results of our hard work right in front of me with a smile on his face – and mine!

(Jennifer Bangoura is a tutor in the Tuesday Night Reading program).

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