More to School Than Learning

by Kenia Alfaro '16
August 2, 2015

Kenia is an intern with the Expanded Learning Opportunities program at Central Falls High School through the iProv Summer Internship Program.

An Uber ride to work changed the way I think about my internship. 

I was running late and had no caffeine running through my system (not good). I got into the car and halfway to work, the driver said, “Central Falls High, huh? That’s a rough neighborhood and some tough kids.” I felt a bit offended but all I could say was, “It’s tough but they’re good kids.” He snickered. 

I never thought about the neighborhood I was working in, or the school, as a matter of fact. Working there reminded me of my neighborhood and my own high school. I come from a community where gang-violence is high and most of the people are low-income families. Aesthetically and economically, Central Falls and my neighborhood have so much in common. I felt comfortable going to work and almost at home. But the moment that driver said those words to me, I became uncomfortable. It’s as though I was trying to imagine Central Falls as my neighborhood, facing the same difficulties and obstacles that mine faces. But in my short time in Central Falls, I’ve come to learn that there are certain things that make this small neighborhood and high school different. 

See, what happens sometimes is we forget that a student’s life is more than just the academic school day. I find myself observing the staff at this school and the work they put in to make sure these kids have food, shelter, and an academic schedule that fits with their specific needs. I’m in awe of the work at this high school, and specifically of this program. The Expanded Learning Opportunities program, for which I am interning this summer, provides students with the ability to carry out their own hands-on projects in accordance with their interests, or so they can receive credit for high school graduation. 

School is more than teaching, reading, and writing. For me, it’s becoming a place where students can and should have the liberty to be who they are and still have the education they need. I never thought a high school could be a place with so much need, and yet so much support. 

So when I think about my high school and Central Falls High School, I can see the differences. CFHS has staff devoted to the well-being of their students, and offers help to all of them. My high school, on the other hand, only offered assistance to students like me, who were at the top of their class and “showed potential.” The students at Central Falls are so fortunate to have teachers and staff fully invested in more than just their academic life. That’s what makes it so unique.

I’m learning a lot at my internship, especially how to enjoy being out of my comfort zone. More than ever, my passion to become a teacher or social worker is at an all-time high. I guess I can say this was a perfect match.