Summer vacation is usually a time spent away from school, a time filled with friends, family, and relaxation, and hopefully a job or internship. At least that’s always been the case with me. This summer, I was lucky enough to land a teaching internship with South Bronx United, which meant I was headed back to school.
During the first week of the internship I witnessed firsthand that SBU is like a family. Many of these kids have known each other for years, and even some of the newer members seem as if they’ve been in SBU for years. As with any family, there was sometimes tension between the students, but overall they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company. For many of the students, seeing their friends and meeting new ones was one of the main reasons why they kept coming back to SBU.
That first week I was one of the newest members of the SBU family, along with the other interns, but that didn’t seem to make a big difference. I soon felt like I was part of the SBU family, talking to the students before class in the morning, juggling soccer balls with them on the sidelines during water breaks, and hanging out with them during lunch playing Connect 4.
When I wasn’t hanging out with the students, I spent my time either teaching or coaching soccer. The course I taught was called “Sports Reporting”. With the students, I spent four weeks studying topics like ethics in journalism, investigative reporting, and the role of media in society. I spent many late nights spent brainstorming, planning out lessons, and thinking of ways to make the class fun and educational. Though those nights could be stressful, teaching my classes in the morning and seeing the kids engage with the material always made up for the lost sleep.
One of the assignments I gave my students for my class was writing 4-5 paragraphs on a sports topic of their choice. We had analyzed a few sports articles that week, focusing specifically on their use of descriptive language and imagery, and as part of the assignment I asked students to try to utilize these elements in their own writing. Many of the students chose to write about their soccer team or player, and their assignments were fun to read. Some of my favorite passages are below:
“Arsenal is my favorite team not just because of the players, but the style of play. They pass the ball like it is a rope attached to their legs and the ball has eyes and listens to them. Arsenal is a top 10 club in the world. It is not just my opinion, but it is a fact.” – Paul Oriako
“First of all, I believe the USA National team has a set of very unique players. Alex Morgan always had a dream of becoming a professional soccer player. I look up to her because with the accomplishment of getting to be a pro she still tries to be even more successful than what she is. Alex Morgan is my inspiration.” – Mariela Cipriano
“Fernando Torres was the best signing that any team could ever make. Before being signed by Liverpool his action that caught most teams eye was beating the great Barcelona 4-1 and scoring all the goals by himself! He was being pursued by many teams, even Barcelona! Liverpool finally made an agreement with Atletico Madrid for 12 million pounds with a salary of 10 million pounds per year.” – Mamadou “Torres” Traore
Through assignments like this, I really felt like I learned a lot more about the students. For instance, one of the students considered basketball his favorite sport, even though SBU is a soccer program. Another student was frustrated that his home country, Gambia, wasn’t in the Confederations Cup and wanted more people to know about Gambia.
My favorite moments in the class occurred when the students were really engaged with the lesson. Sometimes this would make them hard to control, as they passionately debated which certain players or teams were the best, or, to provide a more specific example, whether Mario Balotelli should have walked off the field after being the victim of racist taunts in Italy, but at the same time, I really enjoyed hearing their competing perspectives.
On the soccer field, I learned as much about soccer from the kids as I probably taught them. They’re a talented group! I’ve played soccer my entire life, and played varsity in high school, but I was continually amazed by the students’ ability on the field. It was a lot of fun coaching and playing with them, and I wish them the best of luck in their upcoming seasons. Go SBU!
There are many moments from the internship that stick out to me. From talking to one of the students about majoring in economics to discussing tennis with another student and seeing a picture of them with Novak Djokovic, these are moments I will remember fondly whenever I think back to this summer.
I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to get to know SBU’s Summer Scholars, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. These past weeks working with SBU have together led to an awesome summer experience. Who would have thought that going back to school for the summer could be so much fun?
– Duncan Graham