I specifically remember a situation with two kids. Kid A always raised his hand to answer questions, excelled at the activities, and was relatively quiet. I saw my younger self in Kid A. KidB, on the other hand, was loud, wasn't afraid of being bold, and sometimes even looked bored of the activities. Kid B accidentally pushed over Kid A's toothpick tower when he was playing with it. My first instinct was to reprimand Kid B as I felt terrible towards Kid A with his broken tower, but before completely isolating Kid B, I asked him why he was touching Kid A's tower. Apparently, he wanted to see why it was so tall. Kid B's tower was barely half of A's, and so instead of removing Kid B from the activity, I went to help him build his tower.
Reflecting back, I realize I immediately favored Kid A because he was familiar and I saw myself in him, and because I thought he was the "good kid". However, just like cultural stereotypes, labels are always bad. Kid B was not necessarily a bad kid or a bad person. After talking to him, he was quite nice. Perhaps he was used to a different environment, and perhaps I was too, but he certainly had potential to be just as academically successful as Kid A.
I couldn't help but smile at the frequent comments that asked if we, the mentors, were siblings. Or when one girl asked me where I was from, and I mindlessly replied Maryland. Perhaps a year ago, I would've felt insulted and declared, "America. I was born here." However, now I better understand she of course meant no harm or rudeness. I'm fortunate enough to be brought up in a comfortable middle class home and as part of my family culture, I've always taken education as a priority. Not everyone is the same as though, and through my mentoring week, I've grown to understand that isn't necessarily bad, just different. I believe as a person, it is necessary for people to constantly expand beyond our comfort zones and be open to new experiences, and I am so glad I was part of this experience.
–Amanda C. (11th grade, Poolesville High School)