On Wednesdays, I volunteer as a mentor and English tutor at the Evergreen Bees Mentoring Program. The after school program is for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as single parent homes or homes in which parents work long hours and don't have time to help their kids with school work. It's been a neat experience to learn more about the Singaporean culture by interacting with the children. 

I'm usually one of the first mentors to arrive, and Abigail, a sixth grader, is always shyly waiting to play board games with me before the study session begins. I think she gravitates towards me because I'm American, and likes to ask me questions. Yesterday, she told me all about the big national test that's coming up in October. All of the children in Singapore must pass the exam to progress to the next level in school. In fact, the curriculum in the Evergreen Bees program is preparing the children for this exam.

Without fail, a little boy always shows up to wreak havoc on our games. I nicknamed him Todd because he refused to tell me his real name on my first day in the program. Todd is rambunctious and always has something comical to say. Yesterday, he told me that I "talk so slang." He then proceeded to try and speak in a "gangsta" voice during the rest of our game. All I can say is kids are funny.

After 30 minutes of games, tuition (study time) begins. I've been paired up with a little fourth grader named Pei Sin. Pei Sin is Chinese and very, very quiet. Most of the time, I can't tell if she understands what I'm trying to teach her, but then will surprise me by completing her lessons correctly. My goal is to have a real conversation with her by the time the program ends. We're making some progress... yesterday, she told me her favorite subject in school is science and that her class is learning about heat and energy. But then, I asked her if they do experiments, and she shook her head at me (this is what she does when she is too shy to try to answer my questions). Better luck next week!

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