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On a summer day…

14 May

          Since I was a little girl, summer has always been the time to bond with my family, to relax and take a break from the school works. For most of us, we would always wish for summer to come, because aside from visiting the beach and touring to new places, we know that we will be able to take a breath from our usual activities, even for a short span of time. With all the tiresome activities and works throughout the year, summer time became an avenue for me to relieve myself from all the stress, making the most out of every single summer day by helping in the kitchen, reading novels, sleeping peacefully in my room or simply lying on my bed, letting time just pass by. These kinds of stress-free activities almost always made me look forward to summer time, for I know how much I will be able to take a good break, more or less from everything.

          Things became different though, when I reached college. Honestly, having a summer semester really entails a lot of sacrifice for my part, not only because I have to attend a 07:30 am class everyday but most especially because summer was the only time I could really stay at our home in Pampanga and bond with my family. As bitter as I sound to be, it feels as if summer semester will not be the same enjoying and fun-filled break from all the strain. Yet, sometimes, you just really have to look on the brighter side of life. Things turned into a positive tone when I had a chance to observe a tutorial center that operates during the summer of this year. This tutorial center offers summer sessions for each grade and year level, and even review sessions for college entrance tests examinees.

          Who would have thought that someone would be inspired from a tutorial center? It appears to be usual for others to find themselves in a tutorial center, reviewing and studying just like in the setting of an ordinary school day, in the four walls of a classroom, but to me, it was a whole new experience. Funny as it seems, my experiences in the tutorial center this month had made me appreciate more this summer that I have, not only because of the eagerness of the students to learn more and the passion of their tutors to teach, but also because this experience, with these groups of people, made me realize to make the most out of the time that I have, so to say, to make use of my time more efficiently.

          Near the Ateneo’s gate 3, TLC Tutorial Learning Center is seated in between the food kiosks Wooden Spoon and Bo’s Coffee. Arriving at the place, you can already see a number of students ready for another day their summer session, bringing their bags and lunch kits, going to their respective areas to prepare themselves for class. The students were divided into eight groups according to the level of difficulty for each student, pre-school; grades 1 and 2; grades 4 and 5; grade 6; first year high school; second year high school; third year high school and the fourth year high school, who were taking the review for college and university entrance exams. The review sessions began at 9 am, with each of the teachers started their class with a review of the previous lessons that they had during their last meeting. Their sessions progressed as the teachers made sure that their students understood the lessons well by giving them practice sets to answer, like the quizzes that students usually have after class discussions.  Pad paper, notebooks and pens, these are the materials that are required for the students. No questions asked, I believe that this is a way for the students to learn more effectively, jotting down important notes during discussions and putting on paper the things that they have learned. Another way to encourage their students to take their review seriously, the teachers implemented the scoring system, noting carefully who did his or her best during the session, with each of the groups having their list of their tops students at the end of the day. The review sessions end at 12 in the afternoon, which allotted ample time for lunch break, and resumes at exactly 1 pm, with that afternoon session to promptly end at 4 pm.

          The things that took place during my stay in the tutorial center might be ordinary for others, but for me, it was one of a kind experience. For one, I grew up not having experienced to be taught by a tutor, more so to be in a tutorial center. Second, I was never able to form new friendships during the summer time, since I get to stay at home during the span of about two months of summer. Lucky to be able to experience the feel of being in a tutorial center, I was moved to the different ambiance in the place, much more to the special kind of bond that exists between the people in that place. The place felt homey, even if there were blackboards around and desks like in an ordinary classroom. There were nannies who accompanied the kids for the review sessions, they come with them in the morning, and though they sit and chat to the other adults in the place, they were always ready whenever the kids need their assistance. Though they were quite many, I was a bit surprised that each of the persons in the tutorial center knew one another.  Indeed, there is that special bond that exists between these people, I could say, regardless of what their social statuses might be.

          It could be the willingness of the students to learn, or the enthusiasm of the teachers to tutor, or the special bond of the people that makes the tutorial center unique, worthy to be called a family. Things may not always appear they way that they really should – who would find the joy in attending a class during the heat of the summer fun? We are not all strangers to others, looking for those little threads that connect us to other people creates that entirely new, soon to be special kind of bond. I did not enrol myself for a summer session in the center, yet I learned a lot of lessons worth more than a summer semester, all in just a single day. 

– Maureen Arona 

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