March 31, 2021
By: Ivy Nguyen, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Integrated Arts Academy
“One of the most rewarding moments of being a Promise Fellow is when a student finally talked and opened up to me. I started checking in virtually with this student in January but they never wanted to speak and preferred to type in the chat box. Even with typing, the student only responded to my questions with yes or no. There were many times I wanted to give up on this student because I felt like they didn’t want to talk to me, and I made this student uncomfortable. Fortunately, my host site moved back to the hybrid model in late February, and I finally got to meet up with this student in person. The first in-person meeting was very quiet because again, the student clearly did not want to meet up. In the second meeting, I decided to let the student sit on the couch and draw on their tablet while talking to me. I sat quietly with them for the first five minutes then slowly got them engaged in the conversation by sharing my story first, then asking them to share theirs, and giving them breaks in between. Surprisingly, the student started opening up about their family, mental health, and past experiences. The conversation went on for almost an hour with the student doing most of the talking. After that, the student opened up to me a little more every time we met up. Of course, there were weeks they told me that they were not in the mood of talking but I know if I try again and again, they will have a lot to say.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is to be patient with students. For some students, it may take a while to gain their trust and get them to open up so it is important that I, as a Promise Fellow, should consistently check-in with them and create a safe space for them to share their thoughts and feelings.”