This past summer, Saint Ann’s junior Hannah I. volunteered at Chung Pak Early Childhood Center in Chinatown–read about her experiences below, and also consider visiting Chung Pak’s website here!
This past summer I volunteered at the Chung Park Early Childhood Center, which operates under the auspices of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) — a social service and leadership development organization that serves over 8,000 Chinese American New Yorkers everyday and “[promotes] social and economic empowerment of Chinese American, immigrant and low-income communities.” The Chinese-American Planning Council offers a range of programs including early childhood, youth, and senior services.
Chung Pak is a year round universal pre-kindergarten for children aged three to five. Chung Pak promotes children’s cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development in a safe and nurturing environment. They also encourage the discovery of passions through a variety of hands-on activities.
I worked for three weeks at Chung Pak. A typical day consisted of reading in English with the children, playing games, supervising the atrium (or a nearby play ground if weather permitting), serving lunch, and preparing the children for afternoon naps, (that is, when the children didn’t insist on doing it themselves!)
In addition to hopefully contributing to a nurturing environment for the children, I found this experience quite personally fulfilling. As a student learning Mandarin, I am always looking for opportunities to practice speaking the language. When I first heard about Chung Pak, my understanding was that most children spoke Mandarin and so I was hoping I could practice with them. However, I later learned that these children spoke Cantonese — that is, if they spoke Chinese at all. Although I did not get to practice Mandarin, I got an equally (if not more!) meaningful experience: When I arrived on my first day in July, the teacher in my classroom told me my main job was just to talk to the children — to be a friend. It is safe to say that the children made that task very easy. By the end of my first day, the children were all over me. There is something so pure and inviting about a three to five year old’s energy: I can still feel their welcoming, tiny arms wrapped around me.
Although this program runs from 8:30am to 5:45pm Monday through Friday, the coordinators were very accommodating to my schedule. I typically worked four hours each day. In addition, communication with the supervisors was very open and easy. I highly recommend this program. The students and the teachers alike were the highlight of my summer!