Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Davide di Cagno-Hagen

Summer in the city. I’ve been working at Creative Arts, a summer program for inner-city kids in Manhattan, where I teach photography, guitar and a rap music video class. I am also the program’s official photographer, responsible for taking pictures of events and daily activities and creating promotional materials.

What I’m learning–and contributing. They say teaching is the best way to learn, and even though I’ve played guitar for more than 10 years, it helps me to review basic chords with the kids and teach them simple songs. I believe I’ve helped to develop their interest in guitar. Many of them have never played before, but often they continue it after my class. It’s very humbling to know that you’ve influenced and/or inspired a child to start a musical instrument, or to continue practicing any medium of art.

Making connections. I’ve always thought about heading into education after college, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. It isn’t a “day camp” per se, but a place where inner-city kids can get formal instruction in the arts, sports and even literature. While the rap class sounds funny, I have actually taught the kids some stuff about grammar, similes and metaphors, etc., which relates to my English major.

Rewarding challenge: Some of the children are resistant to doing the activities and work. This is never a major problem, but it sometimes takes a while to get them interested. Once they are into the work, it’s very rewarding, as are teaching and imparting knowledge on a daily basis.

Big surprise: I am amazed at how young, and yet how incredibly mature and intelligent some of the children are. Some of them have serious motivation to do well, which is always helpful in a classroom, because it helps rally up other kids. Overall, the ambition these kids have has been really great.