Every year, we recruit tutors from fascinating backgrounds. Many are recent college graduates exploring possibilities beyond their studies. Some tutors discover that their calling is drastically different from their field of study. Annie, who originally studied monkeys, is one of these tutors….
By Annie Shupp, 2017-18 Literacy First tutor
When I first began my year of service with Literacy First, I had no idea what to expect. I had just graduated college with a BA in Anthropology. For most of my college years, I thought I wanted to be a primatologist. I envisioned myself in tropical forests with a mosquito net around my face, chasing monkeys or apes, collecting data; however, I also envisioned a future where my work mattered. I became very passionate about the issue of endangered species and climate change, and to me becoming a primatologist was going to help remedy these issues.
In the summer of my junior year, I got the opportunity to be a part of a research project studying monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon. In that six weeks, I learned so much. I learned the importance of earnest data collection, how to hike ravines and climb through brambles, and, most importantly, that I did not want to be a primatologist. Although the experience was wonderful, I realized I would rather work with people.
A year and two months after I returned from Peru, I began my year with AmeriCorps. I had applied for the job to have a “gap year” between undergrad and graduate school, and I wanted to see how I liked working with people, especially children. I was grateful for the opportunity despite my lack of experience with children and tutoring. I was excited to start my year of service, but also nervous.
I am now eight months into my 10 months of service, and I have learned so much in those months. I realized immediately that working with and helping people is what I want to do with my life. I really enjoy working with the children too.
The children I tutor have such a different childhood than the one I had. I grew up with affluent, highly educated parents. Some of the kids I work with don’t even have toys. My eyes have been opened to a side of life I have never seen. I am grateful for that experience alone. Now I am more enlightened about the realities of life. When you grow up with the privilege of having wealthy parents, you are shielded from the realities of how most people live in this country. Getting to make connections with these kids has been a pleasure and has truly humbled me.
I have grown so much during my time with Literacy First. I have figured out the path I want to take. After AmeriCorps, hopefully I can get a job with a nonprofit and continue to help people and learn more and more how to effectively help people in need in this country. I will be able to use the experience I have had for the rest of my life. Although it has been unexpected, this year has been full of unforgettable moments.