Meghan Marks, PT Corps Member at Walnut Hill UMC
My name is Meghan Marks, and I am proud to be an AmeriCorps member this summer working with Project Transformation! I attend Tulane University and am majoring in Math and Finance and minoring in Marketing and French. I’m a little bit of a nerd and proud of it! My best friend at college and I have started a vocabulary list of esoteric (obscure) words we want to learn for fun. I am happy to embrace my weirdness. Adults may think I am crazy, teenagers may think I am boring or lame, but kids don’t see any of that. They just love unconditionally. There’s a lot of God in tiny humans. I have been so blessed this summer to work with the kids at Walnut Hill UMC, sharing space, time, a love of learning, reading, and God.
I began volunteering with Project Transformation during my summers in middle school through Lovers Lane UMC. This summer, I decided to do something different.
Now a college-aged AmeriCorps member, I have an active role with these children. I am teaching them and leading them – these tiny humans who have come to change my perspective. I am so much more thankful for what I have, for the fact that my mom would sit and read with me, for how I can be of service by simply being with these children and sharing with them the love of knowledge and words.
Exciting things are happening in these kids’ lives! A boy going into the first grade read for the first time with me this summer! We worked first on letters and then finally got to a point where he could read words. So our next step was to read a book and he read it beautifully. I helped when he needed it, but he learned quickly. I can’t wait to see how he grows as a reader this summer!
There are two boys also going into first grade who do not speak English. They’re trying, but Spanish is easier for them. So, they talk amongst themselves and stare at me when I give directions because they don’t quite understand. I thought for a while about the best way to bridge the language barrier and decided using actions was the answer. We high-five just for fun and since it is a universal sign of praise! We say “hi” and “bye”, and just recently, I taught the boys “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” in English. In turn, they taught it to me in Spanish. This intersection of language and culture is inspiring, to say the least.
A 3rd grader reads “purple” books, the highest level of books at Project Transformation. I’ve given her book recommendations, including some of my absolute favorites such as The Little Prince, A Wrinkle In Time, and The Phantom Tollbooth. She got me thinking when she asked me, “Miss. Meghan, what comes after purple?” Well, what’s next? For me, what comes after this summer?
Like a superhero after gaining his powers, I will have a new identity. As my mom, who volunteered this week, became “Miss Meghan’s Mom”, I am now a teacher and a community leader. I hope to take what I have learned here at Project Transformation and use it in my local community. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done!