Little things count

By Jordan Freisleben

It seems to me that every Harvard-Westlake student is a gung-ho activist for a noble cause—I’m amazed at how many are devoted to cleaning the earth, spreading genocide awareness, building homes for those in need, and helping underprivileged children.

While all of these actions are necessary, rewarding and worthwhile, I noticed that if we look even closer within our very own Harvard-Westlake community, lending a helping hand in the community could be as close as the classroom next to yours.

The main purpose of the Community Council is to build bonds with our classmates while helping the outside community. I recently became a Peer Tutor and with that, a former perspective of my peers changed significantly.

I saw the need of several students to which many of us, myself included, tend to be oblivious.

From helping three students in a subject that I always did relatively well in, something I take for granted, I realized that no matter what the class or age, there are students who unfortunately flounder, question their abilities, are genuinely frightened, and feel insecure.

As someone who knows the gist of “struggle” classes, I can empathize. I know the hot frustration and the welling of tears when that certain mathematical function, verb tense or analysis just does not click.

I know this sounds ridiculously trivial compared to some of the actual problems that my activist classmates fight against, but to a sophomore, not fathoming Chemistry might as well be the apocalypse.

What also saddened me in my moment of realization is the loneliness and fear that so many frustrated students feel – the fact that they don’t know that several other students have gone through the same thing.

They don’t know to ask their older peers, who’ve been in the same boat (or more like a cruise ship) and have managed to come out as winners.

Being a peer tutor makes me feel like I’m accomplishing more than just explaining the subjunctive and conjugations, but jumping into the hole with them and saying “I’ve been in this hole before and I know how to find my way out.”

In all of my years at Harvard-Westlake and figuring out the way to go about my “struggle” classes, every teacher has made the time to meet with me and take as much time as necessary out of their busy schedules to make sure to clarify every confusion that I had.

However, between their several classes and hundreds of students, teachers unfortunately cannot do everything.

There’s a certain level of bonding and friendship that can develop between two students who might have never known each other, in addition to the help given in the academic area.

I feel that “Peer Tutor” is an inaccurate description of what is done. Sure, we help explain academic material, but so much more is accomplished. We’re pillars of support to fellow classmates we didn’t know before and in my opinion, that’s what “community” is all about.

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