My name is Avi. I’m a rising 10th grader at Menlo School in Atherton, California. I came to know about Peninsula Bridge through a social justice class I took at Menlo in a freshman rotation program. In that class, I did a presentation about Bridge, and as soon as I began researching, I immediately knew that I had to get involved with the program. Bridge is dedicated to providing academic support to highly-motivated and intelligent, yet underserved students in the area. In many ways, I see myself in the kids I’m teaching! Just like them, I work hard on my school work everyday, and I am committed to my learning and education. However, unlike many of the students I have met in the wellness class that I teach at Bridge, I am blessed to attend a privileged school like Menlo, which, in my opinion, has the resources that any middle or high school student could ever wish for. So, I feel that it is my duty, or “dharma” as they call it in my religion of Hinduism, to serve kids like me, who work hard every day, but don’t have the resources to get the education they are capable of getting.
Already, I have a great feeling about the program. Even though the kids just met each other, they are already getting to know each other very well; I am constantly seeing strong friendships forming in the classroom, and during breaks and lunches. From my small family group to the classroom environment, it is evident that initially shy students are quickly becoming comfortable with the environment here and are opening up, across the board, to their new friends and to their TAs and master teachers inside and outside of class.
This week, I was able to help Ms. Leos, our master teacher, teach all 80 kids in the program about their physical wellness. We analyzed the calorie and total fat content in menus of fast food restaurants, and the students differentiated the healthier meals with the unhealthier meals at these restaurants. We also went over “MyPlate”, which was a great reminder for the students to always have balanced meals, with the correct proportions of vegetables, grains, protein, fruits, and dairy. My co-TA, Olivia, and I led a fun and interactive game where we were able to brainstorm examples of nutritious foods in each of these food categories.
I feel really lucky to be able to teach this class, because what the kids learn in wellness has a direct and incontestable impact on their lives in the present and the future. Even over the course of a few days, it’s been such a pleasure to see students learn, socialize, and grow in the safe and supportive environment of the Menlo School site.