It is astonishing to see the transformation in rapport among we (the college students) and the students of IDEA McAllen. Facial recognition helped put names to students in many of our classes and we were able to engage with the students in more depth. Not surprisingly, it was refreshing to listen to the students more so than our first day on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Many of us asked students questions along the lines of “What is your favorite/least favorite part of the school day?”, “Do you feel as if you have enough support from the teachers and administration?”, and “What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had at IDEA McAllen?”
Inspirational, informative, and brutally honest are words and phrases that best describe the student’s responses towards some of the aforementioned questions. While it is important not overshadow the statistics that speak for themselves such as 100% college matriculation among all students at IDEA over the past seven years and virtually all test scores improving dramatically since the inauguration of IDEA McAllen, it is worth reflecting on the struggles that IDEA McAllen students (and for that matter, students nationwide) suffer from regularly. Issues such as lack of individualized attention and support at home simply due to IDEA families lack of empathy in support of the demanding rigor associated with the IDEA school system because the overwhelming majority of students’ families have never even dreamed of college. For many families, before IDEA, college was an afterthought that they could not even dream of for their children.
As a senior in college who quite frankly has had it incredibly easy throughout my schooling, I greatly value the perspective of students, who at the age of eight and nine in some cases, have experienced more issues than I could ever possibly imagine. For what it’s worth, it is necessary for individuals apart of service opportunities like ASB F.U.T.U.R.E to gain a greater appreciation for the vicissitudes of IDEA students’ lives that many undergo at a young age. For what it’s worth, it is necessary to understand that while we are hoping that IDEA students are able to take away the message that college is not only important but the gateway to a better life, so to is the notion that we college students can learn just as much if not more than the students can learn from us.
Stay hungry, stay humble