The Mission Education Center is a K-5 school. Their students immigrated from Latin American countries - notably El-Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
These children came with their families with next to nothing and often times are escaping the unstable political environment and socioeconomic system of their respective countries.
Aside from the sheer culture shock of the United States, many haven't had formal education. The center serves as a transitional school to better prepare students for the traditional educational setting and there new life in America.
Carla A Llewelyn-Vasquez, Principal of the Mission Education Center stressed the importance of this place being a temporary stop because the ultimate goal is for students to be in school with children from all over the world.
Furthermore, she advised us that the Centers goal is to release students into the public education school system within a year.
Uber and Immigranted
The word serendipity comes to mind when thinking about how our organization and Uber partnered up.
Sarah Ahmed of Uber was actively looking for community outreach projects. Luckily, she didn't have to look far.
Monica Anand, Board Member & Director of Partnerships at Immigranted is best friends with Sarah's older sister.
When Sarah contacted Monica, she thought, "This would be a great fit to help the immigrant community right in our own backyard!" The two got together and within weeks planned a visit to the school.
Last month on Friday the 22nd of September, we teamed up with volunteers from Uber at the Mission Education Centers garden area.
The yellow school house is perched up on a hill in the Noe Valley district. Surrounded by the quintessential edwardian and victorian homes that San Francisco is known for, the school stands alone in the residential area. It was the last day of Indian summer and not a cloud in sight.
Before getting to our duties, Carla greeted everyone and gave us some history behind the center.
She gave us a tour of the school. A large cafeteria, spacious blacktop and neatly organized classrooms accompanied with everything you'd expect from an elementary school, brought back memories from yesteryear. The colorful playground was equipped with slides, monkey bars, swings and a beautiful garden area.
We first saw students in the Cafeteria. Many greeted us with smiles, a few with confusion and some with funny faces (our favorites).
In unison, the students cheered "Bienvenido!" It was a small gesture that put big smiles on our face and set a positive tone for the day.
After the tour, Carla advised everyone what needed to be done.
Some volunteers helped students with art projects, others played games on the playground, and the remainder of us worked to clean the garden area by pulling weeds, removing shrubs and raking leaves.
Although there was a language barrier between the volunteers and students, it somehow worked. After all, most communication is non-verbal. For example, Sarah went over to a group of students that were jumping rope and a crowd quickly gathered in single file line to take part in the fun.
Our Co-founder, Vishal Sharma took part in an intense game of soccer along with volunteers from Uber. The students were slightly rambunctious at first, but once teams were organized they got into the spirit and played their hearts out.
It's evident that these children are receptive and excited to see members of the community. It was a beckoning call to us at Immigranted and Uber to continue to support organizations like this.
Afterwards, Sarah and the rest of the Uber team shared with us how much they enjoyed this day and how they're excited to come back in the future!
After we left, Carla was pleased with the work we did and told us to stop by anytime because there is always more work to be done, but more importantly - the students enjoy it.
We believe it gives them a sense of home away from home.
To follow our journey as we grant it forward, please subscribe to our blog here.
Check out a great video clip of past event where we donated backpacks to the Mission Education Center. If you're moved and inspired by our cause, please donate here.