Sophia Arnao

(from left to right): TASSEL volunteers Sophia Arnao, Devon Liu, and Bella Arnao at a TASSEL garage sale

(from left to right): TASSEL volunteers Sophia Arnao, Devon Liu, and Bella Arnao at a TASSEL garage sale

Mira costa (KARDIA sub-chapter), CALIFORNIA, USA



What TASSEL Has Taught Me

My past two years at TASSEL have taught me so much about not only the world and education, but also myself. In the Western world, we are fortunate to have so many educational opportunities, but I think a lot of people here take learning for granted and don’t appreciate how special it actually it is. I hear so many students complain about teachers and homework, and although I’m not proud of it, I am probably guilty of doing that too at times. We eagerly await the weekend when we don’t have to sit at a desk and learn all day.

But school is not something we should treat as something we “need” to do. It should be something we want to do. At the beginning of every TASSEL class, when I see all the children standing at respectful attention with their hands pressed together and smiles on their faces, I realize that school is far from a chore for them. It is something they look forward to, because they are truly eager to learn. The respect they have for their teachers and their positive attitudes toward learning seem largely absent in today’s classrooms, but we should follow their example. Education is not a given for everyone in the world, and those of us who are lucky enough to have it nine months out of the year must keep this in mind, even when we feel like we’re floundering hopelessly in a sea of homework and sinking GPAs.

I have also learned a lot about myself through TASSEL. I have always been a shy person, hiding and staying quiet unless absolutely necessary, but over the past two years, I have learned that it’s okay to come out of my shell, gaining self-confidence and leadership skills that I would not have otherwise had. Leading a class every week wasn’t always easy—in fact, even after almost 30 lessons, I still get extremely nervous right before teaching. However, that all goes away when I see the children and start teaching. The anxiety floats away, and I feel confident as we start the lesson. We have fun and make a game out of learning, and I am always sad when it’s time to say goodbye.

Last year, I had the opportunity to gain more leadership experience through TASSEL when I helped start a club at my school. We worked to organize fundraisers and collect donations, which we knew were being put to good use because we could actually see where they were going every week on VSEE. This year we have also used our club to recruit new teachers who were committed to the cause before even having the opportunity to teach. I hope teaching will change them as it continues to change me. 

For me, TASSEL has been one of the most rewarding experiences I can ever hope to have. Even though I’m supposed to be the “teacher,” I have learned so much from TASSEL, and I hope to continue being a part of it for years to come.