Make connections, help others.
Upon entering college, I spent most of my time with other Chinese students who are within my comfort zone. Joining GSW (the Gateway Science Workshop program), and becoming a GSW mentor, though, “forced” me to reach out to experience the diversity of the campus. GSW is a vibrant community with peers who are passionate about learning and teaching. I made a lot of friends through GSW mentor meetings and through my own workshops. One quarter I had a student from Bulgaria. Other than talking about math problems and solutions, we also talked about family values in different cultures, life as international students, and economics problems, etc. in our spare time. In this sense, GSW is definitely more than just a workshop that trains my teaching and communication skills.
As a mentor, not only have I helped dozens of students become more confident and perform better in their calculus classes, but personally, being a GSW mentor also allowed me to build a more solid foundation in math and get to know more people.
GSW allowed me to get to know the faculty members in the Math Department and work on worksheet problems. This enabled me to understand the basic math concepts at a deeper level, which helped me to be better equipped for higher-level math classes. Although I have facilitated Math 230 for many quarters, I still get some new sparkles every time I facilitate a new group of students. The faculty member who worked with us was very patient and made sure we understood each concept completely. His instructions were closely related to the higher-level math classes I was taking, and I felt that I could understood my own lectures better after I reviewed the basic concepts with him in the weekly meetings. In short, mentoring other students with their learning offers a real benefit for the mentor, too!
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