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Hello, My name is Alecia Coutain, and I am the volunteer coordinator for the YReaders Program at the Childress Klein

branch. I originally chose this internship because I saw the phrase working with children in the first sentence of the internship description and I was sold. On every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I get the opportunity of working with amazing children from Highland Renaissance, Nations Ford, and Thomoasboro Elementary Schools. When they come to visit, they get a chance to read and play games with the board members and volunteers that visit for the day. This past week, Ive been asking the children what they want to be when they grow up, and Ive heard responses such as: John Cena, a popular WWE wrester, Wiz Khalifa, who is a popular wrestler, business owners, a fire-cop which is a firefighter that also does police work, a baker, but my favorite answer comes from a girl named Adrianna. Adrianna goes by her camp name of Ms. Whispers; shes 7 years old and attends Highland Renaissance Elementary. She looks me square in my beautiful green eyes and with a serious face, she says, Ms. Alecia, I wanna be you when I grow up. Though everyone should be as wise as Ms. Whispers, I was very flattered by her comment. That euphoric feeling of flattery quickly came to an end when she told me that she was lying and started laughing in my face. We shared a good laugh, but this brought me to the question, What do I want to be in a few years? I had to sit and think about this question because Ive always talked about what I want to be when I grow up, and I am quickly realizing that that time is quickly approaching, and its almost time to spread my wings, leave the nest, and become a member of the real world. For the longest time, I thought that the real world was a scary place, but coming to the YMCA EDGE series and the internship as a whole has changed my once skewed vision of the real world into one that has a pot of gold at the end of the tunnel.

In the EGDE series, I have learned the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Some of my top strengths were: W.O.O. (winning others over), positivity, and belief. When you know your strengths, you know exactly what you can bring to the table and contribute to any team. Also, when you know your strengths, you can properly market yourself. A quick and succinct way of marketing yourself is using an elevator speech that explains who you are, and my speech goes as follows: Hello, my name is Alecia Coutain and I am a Business Administration and Organizational Communication double major that attends Queens University of Charlotte. I have strong interpersonal skills, and thoroughly enjoy talking to people. I dont view people as strangers, just new friends that I have never met. Also, my zest for life is reflected through my positive attitude. I am optimistic, yet realistic, and I tend to look at lifes glass as half full. In addition to this, my positive attitude is contagious which makes for happier team members. Lastly, I have a strong set of core values that define my life. When it comes to issues that compromise or go against my moral code, I stand steadfast in those beliefs and my mind is unwavering What Ive learned from the elevator speech is, if you dont know yourself, how you are going to convince anyone to hire you? Though my time with my Childress Klein family is soon coming to an end, I have learned new skills such as using Microsoft Outlook and better communication skills. For example, I am mastering the art of nonverbal communication via email to ensure that messages do not come across as rude or snide, and to make sure that messages are clear. Also, I have learned the importance of giving your time to a worthy cause. In the book of Act 20:35 says,

I have shown you in every way by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the word Lord Jesus that he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. In this context, weak does not mean those who are not as strong as we are, but it can mean those who do not have the same opportunities. Some of these children dont have the opportunity to read a book or for others to read with them, and a happy feeling overcomes when they are happy to see the volunteers and they are enjoying their time reading and playing games with them. I have learned to have more confidence in the work that I do. Often times, I second-guess myself on how much learning that the children actually do and if the board members visits are worthwhile, but I have received multiple emails saying that the board members and volunteers have enjoyed their short time at the YReaders Program. One of the best lessons that Ive learned from seeing these children 3 days a week is that I cannot have children anytime soon! Overall, I am glad that I chose to intern with an organization such as the YMCA. Though it might sound clich, the only way to go out and be a success, starts with yourself and the right attitude. I was once afraid to go into the real world, but I no longer am fearful because I know how to market myself, I know my strengths, and I have the necessary skills to make my dreams become a reality. With a positive attitude, helpful people from the YMCA, soon 2 undergraduate degrees from the best school on the face of the planet known as Queens University of Charlotte, and guiding hand of Jesus Christ, impossible is nothing. A special thanks goes to the best supervisor in the world, Amy Crane! Thank you for everything that you do! Thank You!