Tonight was the first night of my new year at the after-school tutoring program at Back on Track. My tutee Charles is now 10 and in fifth grade--and he is very proud of this, pointing out on several occasions that he is no longer in 4th grade.
Back on Track is a free one-on-one tutoring program. Charles is one of four children in his family who come to the tutoring center; his parents are younger than I am, and don't make much money. I try not to think about the challenges facing him now and in the future, focusing instead on his multiplication tables and on Connect Four.
At Northwestern--maybe even earlier--I worried that all volunteering is a band-aid that doesn't come close to addressing the underlying causes of poverty and inequality. This was certainly on my mind in New York, when I volunteered for a similar tutoring program.
I still worry about this. But I've decided that the world would be even harsher than it already is if nobody stopped to volunteer. That keeps me going, even if the long-term impact of my efforts will be small.