Masonic Home This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   During the past few years I have volunteered at Masonic Home and Hospital, a nursing home of the MYARC (an association that works with retarded citizens). I also volunteered at my Irish step dancing classes, both of which have made me a stronger and better person and given me many special friendships.

I started volunteering at Masonic Home and Hospital during eighth grade with my teacher and classmates. I was nervous about making conversation, but when I opened the door, I was pleasantly surprised. There, for the first time, I met Emma, a vivacious woman whose smile warmly greeted me. I related to and loved her stories about growing up in Sweden, moving to America, marrying and having a large family. She also enjoyed hearing about my childhood in Italy before I moved to America. Sharing our pasts allowed us to become close friends.

As I review my years volunteering at MYARC, I remember one woman in particular. Patty used to come in week after week with her arms crossed, wandering shyly from group to group during the dances and exercises. Once I was her partner, but no matter what I tried she simply stood there, nervous and scared. After a few weeks, while dancing the hokey-pokey, she let me hold her hand. Soon she began clapping and singing a few words of the song. After all this time of wandering quietly, never breaking a smile, for the first time she smiled at me! Most important, after all these weeks, I had finally gained her trust and she held my hand happily. I realized how important patience is, because different people trust at different times. This trust ultimately creates lasting friendships.

Another area of my volunteering is at my Irish step dancing classes. My teacher often asked me (as one of the oldest students) to teach the younger students. Since I had been a slow learner, I could understand other children's difficulties. Working with Caitlin, Molly, Elizabeth and Morgan was fun. One at a time, I danced the step with them. After several attempts, the girls' faces would light up with smiles as they gained the confidence and ability to dance on their own. I began to recognize how much I loved teaching them and how happy and proud I felt.

My friendship with Emma, my work with Patty, and my relationship with the young girls have all contributed something to the person I am today. Emma helped me to realize how vital sharing our pasts could be. Our similar experiences helped me deal with my own insecurities about moving to a different country. Patty taught me the importance of patience for success. The dancing students reaffirmed my love for teaching and gave me the determination to pursue a career as a teacher. The confidence, patience and determination I have gained from these people will affect the rest of my life. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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