The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis. Its economic and social consequences negatively affected all economic sectors and human activities, including education. The pandemic poses significant challenges to learning for hundreds of millions of students around the globe due to lockdown measures and connectivity challenges. It risks exacerbating existing inequalities in access to modern-day education.
This is why initiatives by organizations such as Including You are extremely beneficial and important as they reflect a strong commitment to helping our communities, including young students who need help with their studies, access to remote learning or online homework, or others who just need a friend. Including You gives students the opportunity to help others in so many ways, and I am proud and grateful to be a part of it.
Since I began volunteering with Including You a year ago, one of my most rewarding experiences has been mentoring an amazing 5th grader, Patrick. We meet once a week to read a story or chapter of a book and discuss its elements, trying to simplify parts of the text or parts of the vocabulary that might be a little difficult. Sometimes we talk and share experiences or play games. Patrick is a kind, smart, and funny young man. I am always looking forward to our weekly meeting.
This experience has not only offered me the opportunity to help or support others but it helped me strengthen my community engagement. It made me focus on the little things that I can do to contribute to a better world, and understand how giving a little of my time can help others, help improve my social skills and build new friendships, learning that there are many ways for everyone to help out in their community.
Ahmed Elshaar is a senior at the United Nations International School in New York City. For the last year, Ahmed has served as an Including You mentor and intern. His sister, Ameena, is also an Including You volunteer. In his spare time, Ahmed enjoys playing basketball, traveling and trying new cuisines. Ahmed is from Egypt but has lived in New York his entire life.