Coming from a small school in the suburbs to the large campus of Penn State, one of the biggest changes I experienced was interacting with people from diverse backgrounds each day. When I started my freshman year, I worried about how to relate to others, including professors and upperclassmen, when only a few months ago I was still in high school. Throughout the year, however, I grew to understand how different, yet similar people are. I found myself connecting with many different people all around me through clubs, work, research, and classes. Despite our unique backgrounds, interests, and dreams, people find ways to connect with each other and share experiences that shape our futures, which is something that I also found true at Mid-State.

Although I have only started teaching classes this summer, the amount of support and love for literacy within the Mid-State community has been apparent from the start. Volunteers, trainers, and staff come together to put in the work to create comprehensive classes for people who have varying skills and needs, and it is inspiring to see, especially now during this pandemic.

One way I have seen this specifically is through the virtual citizenship class I have been co-teaching. The class has been an amazing experience that I can relate to personally through my own family. My parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea many years ago with a limited understanding of English and American history. Just recently, my mother studied for and passed the American citizenship test, and finally became a United States citizen. When she mentioned she was taking the exam, however, I only then realized that she was not already a citizen. I was surprised that I had never thought about it before, and I made sure to help her in whatever way I could.

Now, through the citizenship class, I have the opportunity to teach others who are in similar situations as my mother was in and contribute to their success. Although we each have our own stories, we all have commonalities and shared goals that help us connect and learn together each week. Interacting with the students in class has especially been a great way to expand my understanding of other people’s needs and how to effectively communicate with them, as we work towards achieving the same goal. Mid-State is able to provide enriching environments like these, because, just like Penn State’s campus, Mid-State is made up of many unique people who share similar passions, allowing us to learn and grow from one another.

by Sara Yi

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