by Krista Pak
Growing up, I never took part in any extracurricular activities. Rather, I was consumed in piles of homework without the side fun of music, arts, or the company of other companions. Then, high school hit me. I actually needed extracurricular activities (100 hours!) just to graduate. Since I was an aspiring writer, I decided to go on Volunteer Match and look for a writing position. And there it was: an opening for a newspaper editor at NCMACC, the Northern California Music and Art Culture Center, located in San Francisco.
I expected it to be a full-time job, but it turned out that it was more of a freelance position, needing only few hours to complete the entire editing process. In need of completing my required hours, I volunteered to do all sorts of activities. Vacuuming and scrubbing dirty carpets were regular activities on Tuesday mornings, and these started as soon as I walked through the door. From filing papers into binders, cutting business cards with small scissors, running to the store to pick up stain removers, and seeing the stress my coworkers had when having to find replacements for absent music teachers, I truly understood the tedious beauty of a nonprofit organization. I also realized that I never want to be a janitor; carrying a vacuum up two flights of stairs was equivalent to several sets of pushups. These tasks were integral to the successful day-to-day operation of the organization.
The office work and cleaning jobs were completed daily, and after two weeks, I had completed all my hours. However, I stuck around and thought it’d be fun to help them out. There were only three full time workers, and the little tasks I did seemed to help. Through staying, I soon embarked on the incredible journey of teaching. I was already used to tutoring classmates in school, but this time, I had to teach art. Art. I can’t even draw a decent looking tree.
Nonetheless, I took on the challenge and I was teaching in NCMACC’s 2014 Summer Music Camp. Being in an “internish” position, I had to do everything that was not being done by someone else. However, my main job was to be the arts/crafts teacher. In place of the typical work, during music camp, I came in and taught for an hour first thing, and spent the rest of the day researching the next day’s project.
Jiyon, one of the main staff, ordered fun art supplies, such as googley eyes, sequins, glitter, and more. This camp lasted for two weeks, resulting in a total of 10 art projects, one per week day. We made paper pianos, music note masquerade masks, and even decorated fuzzy balls that represented each student. After art, they would practice with their music teachers, which I would photograph and record for their website.
Seeing students excited to create unique art was very enlightening, and it was extremely rewarding to watch them rush to show their families what they created after the day was over. It was a tiring but fun time, and it provided me with the beauty of teaching and volunteering.