Enlighten Volunteering

by JL on May 13, 2014 - 9:53pm

     At first, my volunteering plan was to teach primary students, who did not have the opportunity, how to play chess since it brings many benefits to the brain. Learning chess and playing it from times to times can increase one’s memory, creativity and raise one’s IQ, according to studies. In order to demonstrate my point, I was planning to interview students in order to collect more information about how chess influences one's education. In the beginning, everything was going well. I volunteered in my older brother's chess class at College Francais. It was a fun experience since for the first time, I was  talking in front of a class, while everyone was listening. In school, I had many orals where I had to stand up in front of the class and present a certain topic, but I would easily locate people who were not listening after being in front of the class for around 2-3 minutes. Something even more interesting is that the students would try the moves recommended by my brother right after, in their practice games. I could see them learn, I could see what happens when students really pay attention to someone and learn from that person. Most importantly, I was able to see that they were happy to learn. However, that plan did not go too well. Since they were still young, first or second grade, they did not have much thoughts about how learning chess had influenced them or will influence them. Thus, with a bit of help, I found a better volunteering plan.  


      It is the lack of information collected from the College Francais students that I decided to interview even more people. In general, I went to interview people in a chess tournament occurring at Brébeuf. My questions were focused on how does chess influence one’s education according to them. By interviewing people with diverse ages, within 6-70, the point of views and opinions of chess differs a lot. The most common opinion from younger people was that chess is fun. It is a game they enjoy and they love the challenge the tournaments bring to them. Since they are still young, they did not really have thoughts about how chess influences their education. On the other side, one particular child answered: “I love playing chess because my parents smiles when I win”. Honestly, I was surprised by such an answer from a youngster. I was amazed that even though they are still so young, some prioritize family and only by seeing their family members or friends smile, they are happy and content. Another common reason children played chess is because they met a lot of friends in the tournaments. Even if these contests are competitive, chess has been taught traditionally in a manner where players respect each other and enjoy the game as much as possible. Whether one wins or loses, they usually shake hands to show respect. Chess tournaments has been an activity connecting children.


     Furthermore, the parent’s answers were completely different. Their main concern was their children enjoying the game and letting them learn activities that might be helpful to them in their future. Many parents never really gave a thought about how chess influences their child’s education. I remember one of the parents saying: “chess is like a sport that uses the brain, I never thought it would influence his education in any ways”. However, just like sports, chess can increase the students' concentration in class, according to studies. The most surprising thing I found was that, most parents either did not know how to play chess or they learned it at the same time their child learned it. Most parents have no clue how chess influences their child's brain. 


     Moreover, there was these seniors that I interviewed. Each of them had a very different opinion from each other’s. On the other hand, none of them had any regrets of learning chess in their lives. A quote that I very liked was: "people learn more from failures than from success. Don't let it stop you. Failure builds a character". In chess, it is common to lose. One simple mistake, imprecision or blunder and the game can be lost. Something that I really agree with him is that losing makes people learn. According to him, chess has clarified a lot of things in his life. Chess has not simply changed the way his brain thinks, but also the way he reacts with other people. Another quote from aged people was: "a game of chess makes a player think, plan, read the opponents’ move and find the best move. Those actions exercises both side of the brain and improve a lot of daily basis skills". I totally agree with that, practicing chess has a lot of benefits that many forget and ignore. 


      In my opinion, too many people think that chess is only a past time, a game and nothing more. I believe that informing people about how chess brings benefits to children can encourage more parents to let their children learn chess. Chess improves problem-solving skills, reading skills, concentration and planning, as well as foresight. All those skills can be very useful to any person in their future jobs.  


     It is good to play chess regularly, but there should also be a limit. One of the children told me that chess was the only past time he has. He wakes up at around 7 a.m. and goes to school. Go back home at around 5 p.m. and has chess lessons. Then, he eats dinner, shower and goes to sleep at around 7p.m. . Even if chess can be very fun to many, it shouldn't be the only thing a child does. Exercising, socializing and gaming are also important factors that can influence one's education. 


For a slideshow showing the places I went, feel free to visit: 


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