We all know how busy the college life gets – the extra homework, the essays that take two three four drafts, and of course, the dreaded midterms. On top of that, there’s the seemingly inquietable call to become someone: a “World Changer.” Quite frankly, this always stressed me out. I had a few years to decide what I wanted to do with my life and what I would leave as my legacy. I had always heard that there were millions of people who could use my help, but in a world of 7.5 billion people, where was I supposed to start? This pretty much summed up my first-semester anxieties, and that’s when SEAL knocked on my door.

Right away, I knew that this was what I wanted to throw myself into. I walked into SEAL feeling so pumped about the impact I would have on my kid, but I didn’t realize how much my buddy was going to impact me. Our first book was Dr. Seuss, and my kid flew through the pages; but with her monotone voice, I noticed that she didn’t really seem to be enjoying it. She told me she’d read her book six times already, and how she liked reading books she knew, but didn’t really care for them when she had to learn new words.

At first, I was a little disheartened, but we picked up another book, and I tried to use my best reading voice, using quirky accents, laughing at the pictures, and making every word on that page mean something. After a couple pages, when my kid saw how invested I was getting in the story, she started reading with excitement too. She started asking questions about the animals who acted like humans, and she voiced exclamations and questions in goofy ways. She sounded out words and it was so amazing to watch her quick mind work. The next time I saw her, I brought a detective book, guessing that she’d enjoy the mystery plot, and she did! She was excited to read a book that was harder than Dr. Seuss, and she even asked if I could bring the book again so we could pick up right where we left Nate the Great.

Literacy opens the door of opportunity for so many people because it stretches the imagination. The world becomes a place where anything is possible- as long as you can imagine it. These kiddos are people who will grow up to become that someone, but right now they are also people who ask for time and care. Just like everything else in our world, sometimes the best of opportunities is lying right underneath our noses. My buddy has not only reminded me of this, but also how important it is to always be curious and passionate in everything I do. Excitement when reading is infectious, and I hope we keep catching the Reading Fever from each other as we grow to become World Changers.

– Johanna Pang, SMU volunteer


Interested in becoming a SEAL volunteer? Click here if you are UT student, and click here if you are a SMU student.

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