Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

For the past seven weeks, I've been working with my first overseas internship in Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and feel it worthwhile. This internship experience not only expands what I've learnt at college as a journalism student, but gives me a general idea of how I should do outside the ivory tower.


When I first learnt that my job at Cabrini Connections Tutor/Mentor Connection is to help update this website by blogs (as you can see right now), pictures, or even videos, I found it matching my major quite well. CC T/MC is a non-profit organization found in 1993. For years, it has been working in the neighborhood to help children in low-income families. I'm
supposed to share my personal experience as I go through the organization's database, talk to the regular staff and take part in its functions. This is just what the main concept I've learnt in last semester's Computer Aided Reporting.


Nowadays, the internet has a booming affect on communication while traditional media shrinks as times goes by. This is what we as media people worry about, but on the other hand, it is a great chance for we as normal citizens to count on in order to make our voice heard with the lowest invest(with money). By creating the website, we may get in touch with millions of people in the world. And this is how we broadcast our vision as a non-profit organization.


However, the academic concept won't fit the reality at all time. A famous educator in ancient China once said, what you get from books is always not deep enough if you don’t take it into practice. Although we know the basic things of online journalism, things didn’t go as smooth as I thought at first. I’ve been through what’s called “cold-calling” as I sent out e-mails to radio stations, newspapers, and even my fellow group members who come together with me to Chicago for internship as well. I was depressed at a time, not understanding how people could act so indifferent to such a wonderful program. After talking to Dan Bassil, the CEO and founder of CC T/MC, I know that I should not expect each and everyone in the world would agree to what we believe. Nevertheless, we can still use the internet to attract our potential alley. Just as I’ve learnt from a workshop about how to build an effective campaign which I went to 2 weeks ago, persistence is truly important in the process. The more I write and
send, the more chances people would get our message.


Besides the daily routine, I’m glad that I also had a chance to take part in two annual activities held by Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection during my time here. The outing with Cabrini students and education major graduate students from Edgewood College was an amazing experience, since I participated in the activities and had a close talk with both enthusiastic volunteers and the kids who need help. The Edgewood Experience confirmed my faith on CC, T/MC’s vision as I saw how much the kids benefit from our program and also how happy the volunteers were when their help really worked. Those volunteer students illustrated that we are not alone. And the Golf Benefit was very successful and educational to me too. I enjoyed that a lot.


Chinese people are often teased by westerns since we rely on connections in social behaviors so much. Yet my experience in Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection tells me that it’s not something that “Chinese-specialty”. People cannot live in the world by avoiding the connections with others. Human beings are social animals. The problem is how should we view connections and how should we use them effectively. At the beginning of my internship, I felt a little bit uncomfortable when I found I have to contact with some people whom I may hardly call as acquaintances. I just thought it was too utilitarian. This bothered me for a couple of weeks until I watched a video and saw light suddenly. Then I observed how Dan and my other colleagues do to demonstrate our organization, to build connections with people and to attract donors. What they've done is not simply ask others for favors, but treat them sincerely as friends, caring each and everyone’s unique situation. I think that influences my outlook
on interpersonal communication.


For the last few weeks, I’ve been helping to organize the up-coming Benefit Concert on Aug. 29. It’s a pity that I can’t eventually make it as I’m leaving in 5 days. Nonetheless, I believe it would be a great success, because we have a group of superb staff here armed with faith and passion. I really appreciate the time working with them. My internship lasts only for seven weeks but I’ll cherish this forever, since what I’ve learnt here is my lifelong treasure.

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Comment by Daniel Bassill on August 5, 2010 at 4:05pm
Thank you Willow for sharing this reflection. It shows how we need to be persistent, and patient, in trying to reach out and invite others to join in causes we believe are important. Those people may not understand why it is important, or may have causes of their own that they feel or more important. Or, we may have reached them at a time when they just could not respond.

If we continue to tell our stories, in interesting and creative ways, and offer many ways someone can respond, some of these invitations will begin to grow.

I hope you will continue to translate our stories into Chinese and encourage people in your own constantly-expanding network to keep following this work.

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