Our June Volunteers of the Month are also our Interns of the Year!
With our summer programs now under way, we’ve welcomed aboard a whole new crew of interns to support our students. While they’re getting started, we’re also looking back at the past year, and feeling so grateful for all the wonderful interns who joined us during the 2020-2021 school year. Some even worked with us for the whole year, starting with our summer programs this time last year! Emma Hoerauf and Taran Sun, two of our year-long interns, both formed strong connections with their students, and never failed to show up to a tutoring session with a smile. Let’s hear what they both have to say about their internship, and what advice they have to share below.
What is one of your favorite moments from interning with 826 Valencia?
Emma: Probably during one of my virtual tutoring sessions with students from Malcom X Academy! We were writing pen pal letters
to other students in our programs, and out of *nowhere* my student says “sometimes, I lie awake at night and wonder if we’re alone in the universe.” He then proceeded to give a detailed accountof what hethought aliens might do, look, and sound like. The other tutor and I in the breakout room were doing our best to contain our laughter while taking his ideas seriously, but this was definitely one of the funniest things to happen this past year!
Taran: My favorite moment from this past year came from a tutoring session with Downtown High School’s ACT program. For most of the session, I was working in a breakout room with two incredible students who were writing poems critiquing the American Dream. They were planning to present their poems at the end of class, so they practiced reading the poems out loud to get the nerves out. When we returned to the main room they DID NOT MISS. Their words were powerful, their messages were personal, and their voices were strong and confident. Hearing the writing from our small group come to life in front of an audience was electrifying.
What led you to become part of our intern community?
Taran: I became an intern this year because I want to become an English teacher! 826 encourages an amazing sense of wonder around reading and writing, and my goal was to help encourage that wonder in the students and to help them express themselves.
Emma: I started at 826 Valencia as an volunteer in 2019, and have been itching to come back ever since. When the opportunity for a remote internship arose last summer, I applied as quickly as I could! I have been blown away by the students, volunteers, and staff I’ve gotten to work with this year. I know this isn’t the end of my journey with 826 Valencia, and I’m excited for all the volunteer opportunities ahead!
Given a choice of the three, which would you choose: pirates, pufferfish, or woodland creatures? Why?
Taran: Pirates, no question. There’s nothing that screams adventure like a pirate ship. I’m all for tracking down treasure, fighting (or probably fleeing from) sea monsters, and eating tons of citrus to keep the scurvy at bay.
Emma: This is such a hard question! I’m going to have to go with woodland creatures, mainly for their fuzziness!
What would we find you doing while you were not tutoring at 826 this past year? What might we find you doing now that your internship is done?
Taran: During the internship, when I had time outside of college work, I was binge-reading fantasy books, taking pictures, and learning new recipes! I’m doing pretty much the same thing now, with the addition of preparing for the start of my grad program.
Emma: I spent a lot of my free time this past year alternating between watching movies and trying out new recipes in the kitchen! Now, I’m reading the Harry Potter series and looking for a job in the Bay Area!
What is a piece of advice you would give a new 826 Valencia Intern?
Emma: My biggest piece of advice is to get to know the team you’re on! This made the world of a difference for me and is the main reason I stuck around for a year! 826 Valencia is full of amazing, creative individuals who are always in your corner!
Taran: One piece of advice I would give new interns is to ask for help. This goes in a couple directions: the first is asking your program leads for help (they care about you!) and the second is asking your students for help. I sometimes found myself trying to give a student the support I thought they needed, when the student actually needed or wanted something totally different from me as a tutor. Ask students for feedback, give them the space to lead their own learning and to show you how you can help them, and empower them to become self-advocates.