Over the time span of two weeks, I attended the Tawba Tutoring Center on two different Sundays to tutor K-12th grade students. I met up and carpooled with a few other students that attend weekly and we all drove there. I was a little nervous because I haven’t had much experience with Muslims or their traditions, I was worried about coming off as disrespectful or incentive to their culture. I still wasn’t quite sure on the etiquette, but I was informed that we would have to take our shoes off in the entryway when we arrived.
As we pulled into the parking lot the first thing I noticed was a bunch of kids playing soccer in the grass. I love soccer so this made me feel more comfortable, not quite so out of place and excited to begin. We got out of the car and walked inside where we were greeted by a few adults and kids who were chatting and conversing with each other. We took our shoes off and headed to the classrooms. Right away I noticed a lot of smaller kids running around and playing, all looking like they were having the time of their lives. Before entering the classrooms, we talked with the tutoring leader, who told us the kids’ math and English scores had both gone up recently, which was very exciting! The kids were very energetic and it was actually hard to get them settled down, but after a few minutes, they were all in their seats and mostly calm. Each child would receive a math packet and an English packet that they would work on based on their grade/skill level. Our job as tutors was to just walk around and assist them when needed. Whenever they had a question, they would raise their hand and we’d go over and help. Once they finished their packet, they could go outside and play. We tutored for about an hour and then it was finally time to leave. There was usually a prayer service at the end of the tutoring session, but they didn’t have it that day because the time got moved, but I thought it would’ve been really interesting to experience that. I had a really fun time and was sad to go, but I knew for sure I was coming back the next Sunday.
It seemed to take forever, but next Sunday was finally here and I couldn’t have been more excited. After only being there only once, I felt way more comfortable and knew what I was supposed to do, compared to last week when I had no idea what to expect. We drove there again, and once again to my delight, kids were outside playing soccer. There were more kids this time, and it was a little crazier. But everyone got settled down and got to work. I was randomly helping a few kids here and there, but most had finished their work and left to play outside. All the kids were anxious to get outside because the weather was beautiful that day. I had the opportunity to work with one boy in particular who seemed to be taking a lot longer to work on his packet than the other kids. I was working with him for about 25 minutes and at one point we were the last two people left in the room, but he kept working away. I could tell he was really smart, he just struggled to focus on his work. But it was a very special moment of learning for both of us, especially me. He was extremely patient, working hard, and focusing very well. He still hadn’t finished his math packet, but I told him as soon as he finished the English one, he could go outside. It was just too nice out to not go out and play and I knew he would enjoy that a lot more. We were all outside playing soccer and all I could hear were screams of excitement and the kids yelling at each other in a teasing way. It was a very joyful moment for me, and I could tell everyone else felt the same.
This experience affected me because it was a really good way for me to get out of my comfort zone and do something I normally don’t do and have a fun time while doing it. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the tutoring has come to a stopping point for the time being, but I would definitely want to start doing it again next semester. I would highly recommend anyone considering this opportunity to definitely try it. If you go in with an open mind, I guarantee you will have your own joyful moment. And you might even find yourself fitting into a place you never expected to.
Religions of Des Moines Student