Last week, I signed tons (and I mean over ten pages) of paperwork just to get myself started, with endless signatures proving that I make sure I get into the class, get my volunteer site soon, print my paperwork, etc. And as soon as I submitted my contract to Project Rebound, their first question was “do you tutor math?” when I said I can volunteer as a tutor. I smiled and said yes, I do. Immediately, I felt surprised and amazed by their enthusiasm that exceeded my expectations. Jason, the program coordinator, even told me that last semester, only “two tutors provided math tutoring, basically on statistics”, which was pretty much a shame for me since I could do more than just statistics.
Anyways, back to the real story. Project Rebound is described as a program “for people in and from the Criminal Justice system”, in which it is a “special admissions program assisting formerly incarcerated individuals wanting to enter San Francisco State University.” In short, this program is an alternative to the revolving door policy of the criminal justice system, in which it “attempts to help students with their basic needs so that they can concentrate on gaining expertise in their field of study and achieve educational and personal empowerment.” (Project Rebound brochure)
I met several people there in the process, and I even asked what made it a successful program. Started in 1967 by Professor John Irwin, it is staffed by students and one full-time director, most of whom have had prior incarceration experiences. It provides support for such students, including admissions, academic advising, financial assistance, tutoring, psychological counseling, and educational workshops. Given such credibility, I told myself that this agency would best suit my volunteer skills because I will be doing something familiar, yet I will be working in a new environment and a new set of people, which in turn, I would like to learn even more.
What makes it more interesting is the fact that tutoring them is something I’m both familiar with and new into, in that I will be tutoring people whose lives have been transformed because they were locked up for months or years, missed school to serve their sentences, lost touch from family members and friends, and closely watched by guards and wardens. I will be tutoring mostly math, from Algebra to Calculus, with some extra subjects on the side if a student wants to, and I will have flexible scheduling so that I can tutor as many as I can.
I just hope that my work at Project Rebound would be a memorable one, especially that the students I am working with may be former drug users, gang members, or purse snatchers. What I expect is that I will motivate them even more to succeed in school despite their academic and social difficulties, and in the end, become more productive citizens.