Student Highlights: Lauren Siegel

Latin American Studies 398A
HBGC Journal Entry 7
Week of 11/12/12
Lauren Siegel

Last week I was sick for the first day of volunteer work and then the second day was cancelled because of a holiday. For an entire week, I did not get to see the adorable little children I have become so close with. What truly surprised me this week was how much I genuinely missed seeing them. No matter how bad my day is going, these kids manage to brighten my day. I love their innocence, their appreciation of my presence, and their obviously growing attachment for me. I have come to realize the impact they have had over me and I feel sad when I think about the fact that I will not be able to continue to watch them grow and prosper forever, as I have in the past few months. As the children entered the facility today after over a week of not seeing me, what surprised me even more than how much I had missed them was how much they had missed me.

From the second they saw me, four of the girls I have become particularly close with ran over to me and gave me huge hugs – all at separate times. As one of them hugged me she said, “You’re finally back!” I had only missed two sessions – one of which they had also missed – and they still realized that it had been a while since I had seen them. I was both touched and moved by their surprising reactions. I could not help but grin from ear to ear with flattery. I love that these children are so appreciative of my time with them and I am so happy that I have been able to make a difference in their lives, even if it is for only a few hours each time.

Although this applies to only a small group of children within the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, I am utterly amazed by how close I have become with some of these kids. I can tell that they open up to me more than they do to other adult-figures in the room, and that their level of comfort with me also surpasses some of the others. This group of kids always sits with me to do their homework and will actually go out of their way to find me when they sit down to do their homework if I am not yet at our usual desk. They tell me about their lives, draw me pictures on a regular basis, and even make me little arts-and-crafts presents outside of school – despite my encouragement to give these gifts to their parents. In fact, today one of the girls named Malaya brought me a Christmas tree ornament that she had painted at school. It was one of the sweetest gestures a little kid has shown me and I was so warmed by the thought. I told her repeatedly that she should give the ornament to her mother, but she was insistent on the fact that she had made it specifically for me and wanted me to put in on my Christmas tree. Eventually I obliged and thanked her profusely. In this small gesture, I internalized that I was actually making a difference for these children. I absolutely love the relationships that I am forming with them and I am so happy that my time with them has proved meaningful to them.

Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

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University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA 01003-9277

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