Volunteer Minute with WAL at Seattle Urban Academy – Looking Back with Joy

Volunteer Minute with WAL at Seattle Urban Academy  – Looking Back with Joy

Debbie headshot

by Debbie Chan, Student Services & Activities Coordinator, Washington Academy of Languages (WAL)

We always hear that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.   How about to a teenager’s heart, whose future seems sometimes difficult and unsure?  Can food play any part in that?

That’s where we come in.

on January 5, 2018, a small group of WAL & CityU students volunteered on the last Friday of their winter break  at Seattle Urban Academy (SUA),  located in South Seattle.   SUA works closely with at-risk high school students who need extra  attention or care in their personal growth and classroom studies.  The supportive staff and teachers at SUA are there to help students become successful both  inside and outside the classroom.

There is one ingredient that’s always needed at SUA.  VOLUNTEERS.   SUA  totally relies on donations of time and food from the community to prepare and serve a lunch for their students and teachers on a daily basis.  But what could we do?  We’re just a small group of five who wanted to help.  What could we offer to these teens when all of our personalities and cultures are so different and diverse?

IDEA!  How about serving a meal that even our own  volunteers never tried before?  How about a  TEX-MEX-themed lunch?  How about a Turkey Nacho Salad Bar?  We went ahead and fried up some taco turkey meat in SUA’s  full service kitchen,  and added lots of tortilla chips and lettuce. To top it all off,  we  gave them a variety of toppings and sauces to choose from, which made it even more delicious!

BUENO! It worked beautifully!   The lunch was a huge success with some students coming back 3-4 times!  Even the staff was impressed!   In fact,  I recall a student coming with an empty plate to say, “This is for Mr.___ (a teacher),” whom I knew already came by the line a couple of times already on his own. I guess he didn’t want us to know he was coming back once again for more food, so he sent a student to do it for him.  Haha!

FEELING GOOD! This made all of us happy and pleased!   Our small effort of doing something new for these students worked out  so well for everyone – especially the students we were serving.  We can’t tell you how good it felt to see  the students enjoy our food so much!

IMG_3637 -Jan. 5- J & N help get everything ready for the students' lunch -which starts in less than 1 hour! -comprsd,adjOur student volunteers had some good comments to say, too:

Natalie:  On January 5, I had my first volunteer experience in America.  (I used to be a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters in my hometown for 4 years and now I miss being around kids.)  I think working with kids is the most interesting and the most important type of volunteer work, because children are the most vulnerable people. They need care and attention from adults.  Teens appreciate our time even if they don’t say that with words.     I hope we will be back to this school again with new food ideas!

Rawan:  It was my pleasure joining this volunteer activity with Debbie at Seattle Urban Academy. I really appreciated this opportunity because it made me feel that the students we were helping were really happy.  As a result, I felt more connected to the students and my volunteer team.  I like Seattle Urban Academy and their many services to support their students.

Fang (Fran):  As I graduated from a university in China 20 years ago and worked as an educator ever since, I feel a sense of responsibility to help students in need. My volunteer experience at Seattle Urban Academy allowed me the opportunity to understand how teenagers, mainly from less fortunate families, struggle for their academic and career success.  Thanks to this opportunity, I enjoyed my volunteer experience at this school, which brings me a sense of self-fulfillment.   I hope I could do more for them in the future.

Wan-Feng (Joseph):  I really appreciate the fact that I had this chance to help people at this school.  I’m happy I can use my English ability while participating in these volunteer activities.

As you can see, this one meal opened up doors we never thought were there. Most importantly, it opened probably the biggest door there is.  That is, to our HEARTS.

Thank you, Seattle Urban Academy.   I think we’ll be back again.


Are you interested in volunteering with us in the future?  Contact Debbie Chan at debbiechan@cityu.edu for our latest updates and schedules.

Published March 20, 2018



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