In spite of the remote learning conditions brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, my time volunteering with Chula Vista College Institute (CVCI) provided me with the opportunity to interact with a community outside my own, a community and a world drastically different from the one I, personally, was raised and nurtured in. Although the time spent volunteering was relatively short with a small group of students, I was able to garner so much out of my time with them. Whether it’d be them learning about the road towards applying for college or the importance of developing skill sets and knowledge outside of the classroom, I found great benefit in spending my time with them outside of my normal day-to-day life as a first-year college student. I thought that I was able to give at the very least something back to the students of CVCI and really, the community of Chula Vista. In general, my experience volunteering with CVCI was very beneficial and fulfilling, regardless of the online format, and I’m looking forward to the doors these students will be able to open because of the quality education they’re receiving, which has proved to be vital and crucial to one’s success in their future endeavors. As a college student in BLCI, I initially felt out of place as the power dynamic I brought into a space filled with high school seniors. However, this mentality quickly dissipated within the first few minutes of meeting and interacting with the high school seniors. Instead, I felt a connection to a community that I heavily aligned with, the Latino community, even though everything was through virtual means. BLCI’s goal to provide and mobilize students of the Latino community into college, demonstrated to myself that sometimes the greatest help is from the community itself. The weekly senior meetings that I was a part of was one of many community conversations that allowed for students to seek answers to their own questions where they wouldn’t be shunned for their inquiry. BLCI allowed me to bring my own experience to the table and demonstrate to the high school senior students that there is no set path to success. At the end of things, I feel more at ease with my identity even in a location that once seemed foreign to me. Joining BLCI I was unsure what this volunteer work would include. Within the first day we were introduced into this tight knit community of high schoolers and their mentors. We were guests in these workshops and here to help the students out in any way we could, and teach them more of the college process. But I think my group members and I learned more than we expected from working with these different groups of students. It is great to see that these students have such a great program that provides the necessary resources in order for them to succeed and thrive in their high school and environments and in the near future in their college environments. As someone who shares similar backgrounds to the BLCI students it is amazing to see the hardwork and dedication they have to get to higher education. Being able to go out into the community here in San Diego and give our time and help only reassure the good intentions of this course and the resources it wants to provide to the greater San Diego community.
By: Robert Chung, Valeria Almaraz, Nathalie Barragan, Tina Dang, and Jose Lopez