AmeriCorps in Action: Experience Corps Baltimore City
Experience Corps Baltimore City is an AmeriCorps program that focuses on education and public health intervention. Older adults serve in Baltimore City public elementary schools providing in-school and classroom assistance. In the most recent service year, 80 AmeriCorps members (ages 55 years and older) helped over 1,900 children.
Experience Corps members also recruit community members to volunteer by sharing their experiences with students. One volunteer, Richard Przybszewski, saw firsthand how Experience Corps benefits children through his experience with a third grade class at Highlandtown Elementary Middle School during the 2011-2012 service year. Read his story below:
About 20 years ago when I decided to buy a home, I was attracted to the Highlandtown/Canton area because of its rich Polish immigrant history. Over the years, a transformation has taken place in this southeast Baltimore neighborhood.
As a volunteer Team Leader for Experience Corps at Higlandtown Elementary/Middle School, I have seen firsthand the Latino population growth in southeast Baltimore, where the changing demographics are most evident in neighborhood schools. Recently I was asked to read in Polish a short story to two classes at the school for the "Read Aloud" program organized by Experience Corps.
When I accepted the invitation to read aloud in Polish I didn't know how third graders and ESOL students would feel about a stranger coming into their classroom and speaking some strange words. I was lined up with two other readers, one read in English and the other in Russian. I read my piece in Polish, and afterwards I was impressed by how well the students behaved, how well they listened, and how interested they were in different cultures.
What I thought would be a quick reading and exit turned into a mini Polish lesson, with the students asking me how to say words in Polish. I noticed some were even taking notes. Students asked me many questions like "what was it like growing up with a Polish name?" and, "what is Polish food like?"
Through this experience I was reminded how our students are like sponges, soaking in new bits of knowledge, eager to learn when we treat them with respect. It was a fun and educational experience for this Polish man.