When I joined Christian Appalachian Project (CAP)'s Camp Shawnee for a service year, I knew that I would be tutoring children in local schools. I expected certain challenges. What I didn't plan on was the schools closing completely due to COVID-19.
But the closures of the schools have not signaled an end to my service year. While I can't meet with my students in person, there is still a need in my program. The world is still spinning, and children are still learning, so we've had to get creative with reaching them.
Like most school districts in the country, the schools in Appalachia have switched over to distance learning for the remainder of the year. Teachers have replaced in-person lessons with video calls, and the phrase "homework" has truly taken on a new meaning. Because of this, I have had the opportunity to expand my service to tutoring elementary students online.
While we may be miles apart, I still have the opportunity to help educate these bright and amazing students. Their resiliency through this crisis has been truly inspiring. In a few months I will be back to serving as usual, but in the meantime I have learned that distance learning can bring people closer together, and a warm smile or kind word means the same thing no matter how far away you are.
Kathryn Branham is a One-Year volunteer and AmeriCorps member serving in CAP's Summer Camp program. If you want to learn more about volunteering with CAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.