It’s summer at KidsQuest, which means new programs are beginning, while others halt until the school year. With the change in routine comes a change of faces. Today I want to focus on two volunteers who have made a big impact on KidsQuest: Julia and Mary.
Julia is a 17-year-old German student spending time in Washington through a unique internship program through her school. In her two weeks here, she has learned the museum’s exhibits like the back of her hand, and she even helped me train a large group of volunteers on how best to run hands-on activities. Now she is assisting with Science Explorers, our first summer camp of the year. If that’s not impressive enough, she’s doing all of this in a second language! It has been a real delight to host Julia here!
Meanwhile, I have had to say goodbye to another fantastic volunteer. Mary worked closely with me every Sunday to run Inventor Hour, a free program that encourages kids to get creative with household recyclables. We have built everything from stone age tools and bug traps to circuits made of old Christmas lights. Mary always built a good rapport with the kids, especially by using her bilingual skills to reach children who were more comfortable speaking Mandarin. She is leaving the state to pursue a degree in Business. I’m sure the world will benefit from Mary’s presence, just as the staff and children of KidsQuest will miss it.
I asked Julia and Mary a few questions about their time here, and here are their responses!
Q: Has volunteering at KidsQuest changed you in any way?
Julia: During my volunteering I learned a lot about the different steps of childhood and how to interact with different aged children. I now understand situations and how to best deal with them, even in my everyday life way better. Although I never had a problem talking to strangers I feel like I am now even more confident in that than I was before.
Mary: Throughout this year spending some time in the museum every week, I feel more comfortable and realize how children’s thinking is completely different than mine. They might not understand their behavior when they are little, such as how to start building a house or creating airplanes. It seems like nothing for me since they are not going to remember how they learn those in the future, but this is the most important part of their learning process. For me even though I know I am not going to see my work pay off, at the end I am really happy to see their growing and that means a lot to me.
Q: Do you plan to use your experience here in the future?
Julia: I think I can and will use my experience since I am training children in sport activities who are in the same age range, so the volunteering experience will probably help me with that.
Mary: My favorite part about Inventor Hour is to help kids be creative and complete their project. After one year of volunteering at the museum, I realized their creativity is huge and limitless. Since I always have trouble crafting beautiful things, I like to see the way they create a house, architecture, or balloons. Kids can always find a way to solve the problem and it could be outside of my imagination. I like the way the museum gives them enough materials so they can build whatever they want. There are parents coming in with their children, I love to see their cooperation and achieve the goal. Sometimes just a little thing, like a piece of cardboard, they could play with it for the whole time. I can see their passionate on everything with motivation and eagerness.
Q: What was your favorite part of volunteering at the museum?
Julia: My favorite parts were either the Kid Kits or the Camp. The thing both have in common is that I got to learn more about the individual personalities of the children and I got to know them a little bit better. It is amazing how different they interact with you at such a young age. But, the best part, probably for the children as well is of course the climber.
Mary: My favorite part about Inventor Hour is to help kids be creative and complete their project. After one year of volunteering at the museum, I realized their creativity is huge and limitless. Since I always have trouble crafting beautiful things, I like to see the way they create a house, architecture, or balloons. Kids can always find a way to solve the problem and it could be outside of my imagination.
I wish I could mention all the volunteers who help this museum, like Kavon who works tirelessly in the office every Sunday, Ira who has helped make QuestClub so inventive and fun this year, Yan Ru who spent so much time in the art studio, and the dozens of camp and kid kit volunteers who interact with our visitors each day. If you enjoy KidsQuest educational programs, exhibits, or special events, you can thank a volunteer!
Contributed by Daniela Garvue