We are so excited you have decided to visit the PT Corps Member Log! This is a place where our AmeriCorps Members who serve as young adults leaders can share about their experiences while serving with Project Transformation. Please read their stories of transformation and learn more about our programs. We promise, our interns are some of the most amazing young adults you will ever meet!
Philip Espinoza, House Pastor
This is my fourth summer serving with Project Transformation, but this time it’s a little bit different. Rather than being a PT Corps Member and working at a site with the kids all day, I am a House Pastor and the majority of my job takes place at the houses at SMU. I have had to shift my perspective of how I relate to the mission of Project Transformation. As a House Pastor, I focus more on the “college student” aspect of our mission. It has been so amazing to take a step back from the inner workings of a team and be able to see the bigger picture of 10 different teams interacting with and learning from each other while still going out to work with children around the city.
I love working with college students and I have made some great new friends this summer. I have seen them begin to grow and transform through this program, but the focus on children has always been one of the biggest parts of my previous summers. While I don’t work directly with the children now, I know that my work with the members affects them indirectly. That being said, I was invited by the Munger Place youth team (where I have served the previous 2 summers) to help with an activity one Thursday afternoon and what I saw there made my heart happy. Not only has the youth program grown from nothing in 2013 to a full program this year, but I got to see the connections the youth have made with the current PT Corps Members and with one another. I also saw just how much they’ve grown. My hope and that of Project Transformation’s is to make an impact that transcends an individual summer and even transcends the program itself. I saw this with my own eyes that Thursday afternoon and it has helped put my job as a House Pastor in perspective as important on many levels.
Anna Gálvez, PT Corps Member at Christ’s Foundry
Hi there! I am Anna Gálvez, a recent graduate of Texas Christian University, and a 2nd year PT Corps Member. This year, I find myself in an interesting position as I just finished student teaching at a high school in Fort Worth ISD and have now transitioned into working with middle schoolers at Christ’s Foundry UMC. I went from speaking Spanish all day long, to now speaking in English instead and responding to “Miss! Miss! MIIIISSS!!” While I thought that I had successfully mastered what it means to be a teacher after a whole semester of student teaching, I am continuously learning how to become a better mentor and listener to my students.
It was hard to transition from being the only teacher in a classroom of 30, to one of four members teaching 30 participants. From teaching how to acquire a new language and how to use it to effectively communicate, I am learning how to teach young children to love the community around them, and most importantly, themselves. Our goal for the participants at our site location is to help students feel safe and loved, as some of them do not experience this at home. We help reinforce how special, unique and valuable they are to everyone around them. Even in the silliest of ways, I can see how one of my 6th grade girls is soaking in this information. Just today during our writing club, she wrote 50 characteristics she would love in her dream guy. Now, I am not quite sure what exactly I thought about when I was 11 years old, but it’s heart-warming to see that she’s already becoming aware of what she wants to have in her future. Some days, it seems like what we teach them isn’t quite absorbed, but on days like today, I know that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
Marcos Gonzales, PT Corps Member at Casa Linda
The moment I arrived at SMU for Project Transformation, I knew something special was going to happen this summer. During all my years living in Dallas, I have never seen or experienced being around such a diverse group of people. As the days go by, I am starting to realize how loving and accepting everyone is here. Everyone I meet and talk to embrace me from the first time we speak. More than anything, so far I have realized that this place is the reason I am changing as a person. The reason why my conversations with people when I go back home on the weekends have changed slightly. It is different and the feeling this place brings about in me is like nothing I have ever felt before. It’s unfamiliar, but I love it and I know there is nothing but great things to come. I look forward to building and carrying on these relationships that I am making past this summer.
Valerie Ramirez, PT Corps Member at Casa Linda UMC
As a PT Corps Member serving the youth at Casa Linda UMC, I am realizing that working with middle school kids is a work out! Keeping up with their energy and getting their attention is a challenge, but it’s worth it. Growing up at Project Transformation, I always appreciated the attention I received from the PT Corps Members, but never actually imagined how much work and effort was put into delivering the curriculum. I have only been with my Casa Linda kids for one full week, but I have already bonded with most of them. Throughout the summer, I hope to gain a full understanding of what it takes to be a PT Corps Member.
Gabriel Johnson, PT Corps Member at Casa Linda UMC
My favorite aspect of Project Transformation so far has been living in the community at Southern Methodist University and getting to meet new people from all different walks of life. This experience has allowed me to look at situations in a different perspective then I would have if I stayed at home. This experience has also allowed me to experience things in the city of Dallas that I would have never thought about if I stayed at home. This experience as a PT Corps Member at Project Transformation has changed my life for the best.
Carlee George, PT Corps Member at Casa Linda UMC
Hi, I am Carlee George and this is my first year as a Project Transformation Corps Member, and I am working this summer at Casa Linda United Methodist Church. The first two days of site were incredible! I am only just getting to know these kids and I already love them. Currently, I am working in a rotation alone because our Reading Coordinator is busy with assessing the reading levels of the children as they enter the program. Because of this, I am getting to know the children a little differently.
I have the oldest age group of elementary participants for “Bible Time” at the beginning of the day and “Homeroom Huddle” at the end of the day. I have learned so much about these kids in 48 hours! They are incredible. The questions they ask are so insightful, and they truly do want to be at Project Transformation. They are so willing to try new things and are great learners. My fifth graders sat down with me and were excited to teach me Spanish from flash cards during “Reading Rockstars” – the afternoon rotation of literacy enrichment. It made me so happy to see these kids get excited about teaching and learning. I know we are only just getting started, but I think this summer is going to be incredible!
Lindsay Nickell, Reading Curriculum Coordinator
As Reading Curriculum Coordinator at Project Transformation, I get the privilege of traveling to all of our after-school program sites on a weekly basis. While this can sometimes get hectic, I enjoy the ability to see the amazing and unique things that happen at each of the seven site locations. One of these amazing things happened just a few weeks ago when Shelly Slater, from WFAA Channel 8 News in Dallas, decided to do a feature on Project Transformation (with a special emphasis on the Reading Program!). I spent an afternoon with the interns and children at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church as Shelly and her camera crew followed us around and recorded a typical day at our program site. Although it was an exhausting day, I was completely honored to be a part of the experience!
If you are interested, you can visit our website and watch all of the Shelly’s Bookworms segments featuring Project Transformation!
I feel like many people would assume I was honored because I’m the Reading Coordinator and the Reading Program was being featured on the news. Well, that was definitely one of the reasons I was so touched by the experience, but I honestly had to hold back some tears as I watched children who were incredibly shy at the beginning of the school year read Dr. Seuss books aloud for the camera crew. I was proud to see a few of the children who at first were less than thrilled about reading get incredibly excited about telling the cameras why they love reading so much! Others became equally frustrated because they said that they loved so many books they could not possibly pick their favorite to say in front of the cameras. These were all incredibly sweet moments that I was able to witness!
These reading moments, though, were not what made me the most proud that day. I’ve been around Project Transformation for almost four years now and I cannot begin to count the number of times that I have heard about how much of an impact the college interns have on the children we serve. We may not see the results instantly, but transformation is occurring. As a returning intern, I’ve had to remind new interns on rough days that even though you may not see changes right now in the kids’ behavior, what you are teaching them will impact them somewhere down the road, maybe long after their days at Project Transformation are over.
That day at Chapel Hill with the news crew was so amazing because I actually got to see the results of so many things that we’ve taught the kids over the course of the past few months. One of my favorite examples of this was when one of our more disruptive students begged me to have a chance to read to the camera, and reluctantly, I allowed it. What I saw next was shocking! He walked into that room with the camera crew with so much maturity and on his best behavior. He introduced himself, shook hands with the camera man, and thanked them for taking their time to be at Chapel Hill. Before he left the room the camera crew asked him if he’d like to say anything to the Project Transformation interns on camera and, though I was worried what he might say, he shocked me once more by saying the sweetest things about the program, all of his interns, and ME. This happened repeatedly as child after child showed their gratitude for the interns and for the Reading Program. I was amazed and I didn’t want the day to end!
So whether you’re a teacher, a mentor, a parent, or a Project Transformation intern, you often don’t instantly see your influence and lessons immediately reflected in the children with whom you work, but sometimes, with some time, you do! And those moments are what make the hard work and effort all worth it!