Methma is a Volunteer Representative for Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Sciences (STEMS). As a VR, Methma helps plan weekly meetings for the tutors, which are intended to provide Brown tutors with tools to work more effectively, through tutoring skills, knowledge of current education policy, discussions on the role of a tutor in a classroom, or information about the Providence Public School system. She is currently tutoring in a physics class.
A Culture of Community
Katya Barrett and Danielle Phan are two of six community fellows for Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment (BRYTE), a refugee tutoring program that matches Brown students with refugee students in Providence.
BRYTE Community [brīt kə myo̵̅o̅′nə tē]
All those who are or have been involved with the Brown Refugee Tutoring and Enrichment program as tutors, tutees, family members, and/or community partners.
“We were so excited for our Spring Celebration, the end-of-year BRYTE community event”
Being a BRYTE tutor can often feel like a solitary venture - we work in a model that matches Brown students with refugee youth in one-on-one tutoring and mentoring relationships. For three hours a week and for at least two semesters, tutors and tutees work in-home, building academic fluency and cultural competencies. Because so much of BRYTE’s work takes place on an individual scale, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to bring the full community together.
Our focus at many recent coordinator meetings was the upcoming Spring Celebration - a chance to bring the community together to recognize the work done by each tutoring pair this semester.
In planning, though, it’s easy to get bogged down in details. A week before the event, we were in crisis, bumped from our original space by a larger event. While we found a campus green where the event could go on, we remained worried. Preoccupations with the travel distance from where many of our tutees live, the arduous walk up the hill, and the many other events going on that day swirled in our heads.
But at exactly noon on April 25, something magical happened. Seemingly all at once and exactly on time, tutees and tutors sprinted onto the field. Daniel was taking a piggy back ride on his tutor Allan’s back, while his brother Berhane followed close behind, shouting joyfully all the while. Others grabbed the football, and before we knew it, an impromptu game was taking place. No one seemed to have even noticed the walk up the hill.
Before long, all of Ittleson Quad was bubbling over with the noise of kids playing, doing potato sack races, and lounging in the sun.
The best part was not the activities themselves, but the abundance of laughs and smiles, of love. Amidst the happy chaos, tutors introduced tutees to their friends, tutees translated for their more newly arrived playmates, and everyone posed for silly photos.
Reciprocity and bi-directional learning, two core values of BRYTE, were everywhere: Appoline and her tutor perfected bracelet-making techniques. Nardos and Betelhem taught tutors Vanessa and Athena a soccer game of their own creation. Five year-old Samwel and tutor Claire went on an adventure, walking around the field to say hi to almost every person in attendance.
In the end, it didn't really matter where the event was or what activities were planned. It didn’t really matter how many other things were going on that day. What did matter was the people: the tutees who have formed cross-cultural friendships from learning together at summer camp. The tutors who have built bonds on RIPTA, planning and debriefing lessons. And of course, the tutor and tutee pairs that have strengthened relationships over the past semester, or year, or four years.
While logistics and details are important, they aren’t the be-all and end-all; a perfectly planned event would have been nothing without the BRYTE community and the sense of love that ties it together. That’s not an action-step that can be checked off, yet it is the most important.
June 20, 2016
June 13, 2016"I think about opening my mouth to call out goodbye, or to salute her in a traditional sign language farewell. Instead, I stand silently and smile."
Sally Hosokawa is a Community Fellow for Writers’ Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that facilitates creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. She studies literary translation in the Comparative Literature Department.
May 14, 2016“Club teachers understand us,” she says. “Even though they’re older, they’re not that much older, and so they’re like us and we can identify with them and talk to them about our problems.”
Addy is a volunteer with the Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM), a Swearer Center community partnership that facilitates after-school programing activities and mentorship between Brown volunteers and students at William D’Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood.
February 22, 2016
Pia is a junior double-concentrating in Education Studies and Comparative Literature. This is her third year with Writers' Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that offers creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, and her first year as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.
February 19, 2016I was intrigued by the program, but very intimidated by some of the topics. I’ve never been in the position to talk about gender or sexuality or rape culture.
Tiara came into Brown dead set on studying Neuroscience. After a summer or working with the local Planned Parenthood branch and taking health based classes she realized public health was her real calling. She has been volunteering for the SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) program since sophomore year.
February 16, 2016