I’m sure all of us have heard of Kid City by now. It’s an enrichment program in downtown L.A. where high school students come to get help for classwork and college applications. There’s a weekly Kid City volunteering opportunity for all Alpha Phi Omega members, and I must say, I’m inspired by these kids every time I go.
I’ve always helped out a lot of different kids with their college apps, but it wasn’t until recently that I really got to know one of them in particular – Raven. Getting to know her really helped me realize a lot about how much Kid City matters to everyone who goes, whether it’s once a week or once a month. Most students (maybe all) at Kid City come from families that have a very low income, so many of them don’t have the resources to go to tutoring services for SAT prep, do extracurricular activities that requires extra expenses, or get tutored for classes they’re struggling in. Like Raven, many of them may fall behind in academics and get stuck in a cycle of feeling defeated then doing even worse in school. As volunteers, we can stop that cycle, get these kids to college, and make their parents proud.
While each student at Kid City is unique and have a different background than many students at USC and APO, all of us have one thing in common: having lived through certain experiences that evoked emotions we’ve all felt during our time in middle school and high school. By helping out these kids with their personal statements, I noticed that they are writing about things that every teenager struggled with with or have witnessed: being too shy at school, having to work to help out the parents, bullying, taking on leadership positions, and the life skills that they took away from all these experiences and more. Each kid has a unique story that we can all relate to, and they deserve our help to realize their dream of going to college. They are no different from us. They are resilient. They are motivated. And we should all feel inspired by them.