Volunteer Day: Monroe Middle School [9/19/16] By Lily Lequang, 2016-2017 Family Head

Every year, UCLA’s Volunteer Day brings together thousands of incoming students, continuing students, and other community partners to provide key volunteer support to the Los Angeles area. Going into my third Volunteer Day, I expected to be met with the same labor-intensive tasks of previous years; what I left with, however, was a wholly different and completely refreshing volunteer experience.

The Task Captains of UCLA Circle K met bright and early on a Monday morning at the school campuses to which we were assigned. This year, I was back at Monroe Middle School, a site from last year’s Volunteer Day as well as one that our club worked with throughout much of the previous school year. It was very touching and motivating to hear the school principal talk about his students’ admiration and respect for the school murals that we had completed across the campus.

As the new UCLA students stepped off the bus, the Task Captains worked in pairs to quickly train the volunteers and rehearse the classroom activities. Each small group was assigned to a different classroom and upon entering, I was not entirely sure what to expect. However, our classroom of sixth grade students was entirely receptive and enthusiastic! We completed activities such as the Name Game, Quick Draw, and the Ah-Um Game, which were mostly facilitated by the UCLA volunteers. I was very impressed by how determined the students were to improve themselves each round and by how supportive they were of their fellow classmates. As the games went on, the students learned that the best strategy was to show patience and encouragement to their friends.

After the classroom activities were finished, we moved outdoors to begin working on the new murals for the school. The murals spanned long hallways in the science and math wings of the school, and featured colorful beakers and test tubes, calculators, microscopes, and other science and math instruments. The UCLA students thoroughly enjoyed painting and were even joined by some of the middle school students. In my group, a transfer student who works in the paint department at Lowe’s Home Improvement showed us the best techniques for preparing and applying the paint!

Overall, this Volunteer Day was one of my favorites thus far. The hybrid of interacting with the students and school beautification suited everyone’s interests, and even the middle school students largely enjoyed the time we spent there. As I was disposing of materials after the event, a student from my classroom passed me in the hallway and shouted, “Bye, Lily!”, leaving me surprised and touched that he had remembered my name. This year, I left Volunteer Day with a sense of accomplishment, a renewed love for service, and much excitement to begin another year with Circle K.