Student Outreach Group Receives State Award
A mentoring program that pairs UConn students with students from the Killingly and Brooklyn school districts has received a Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Award. The awards were made during a ceremony at the State Capitol on April 13.
The program, which is sponsored by the Asian American Cultural Center, is known as K.U.B.E. - Killingly, UConn, Brooklyn Experience. It began in fall 1996 as an outreach program for Laotian students in the Killingly school district and expanded to include all third through eighth grade students in the Killingly district as well as the Brooklyn school district.
This year, about 55 UConn volunteers work with more than 60 Asian and other students in the two school districts. They meet once a month for cultural, educational and social programs. Past activities have included museum trips, sporting events and attending educational programs on the UConn campus.
In addition, the program emphasizes English literacy and the use of technology. The two groups of students have built a website to explain American holidays to penpals in a Japanese school district, read and discussed books in conjunction with the annual UConn Book Fair, and written journals shared by the mentor and mentee.
The program's coordinators hope to help the young students meet their potential by pairing them with UConn students who serve as friends and role models. "We want them to be college bound," says Shalini Komarla, a UConn senior and one of three student coordinators.
Komarla, who has been involved with the program for three years, is amazed at the children's growth. One nine-year-old girl, who was Komarla's "little sister" for a year and a half, has made remarkable progress.
"She's grown tremendously socially," Komarla says. "She's become a lot more open."
Sophomore Elisabeth Carew, another of the coordinators, says there is genuine affection between the UConn students and their young friends: "I think that a lot of them just love to come here because they know that we care about them so much."
The award comes with a $500 prize to be used for the program.