Fascio Vallente's Practicum Course with the UCSD Partners at Learning (PAL) Program
Fascio Vallente is a fourth-year ERC Global Health Major and Ethnic Studies Minor, Pre-Law student at UCSD. Before going into law school, they're planning to take a gap year and volunteer with PeaceCorps- specifically working with HIV/AIDS awareness and destigmitization with the LGBTQIA+ community. Afterwards, they plan to go to law school and grad school for their masters. When Fascio is not researching and writing, they love to go exploring- especially pre-covid.
For their field experience, they mxntored/tutored a student from La Clase Magica, an after school program that serves children and adults in several under-served neighborhoods in the San Diego County, located in Solana Beach, CA. They had Zoom Meetings with their mentee twice a week for an hour each, which lasted for 3 months. This opportunity was organized through the UCSD Partners at Learning (PAL) Program, a practicum course that UCSD students can take under the Department of Education Studies (EDS); The PAL Program pairs UCSD students to work with underserved P-12 students and schools.
For the meetings, Fascio created a light structure that allowed them to adapt to what their mentee's needs were at the time. These included a check-in, check-in activity (usually origami), tutoring, and question of the day relating to life at college or future education. Additionally, Fascio did wellness activities for themselves in order to be the best they could be for their mentee, created a wellness lesson plan, went to programs hosted by many of the resource centers, and wrote journals detailing what they did during the week to justify their hours.
While mxntoring, one of the challenges I faced during my field experience was trying to keep my mentee focused because he would get off track and talk about TikTok videos and want to watch TikTok videos when I helped with his homework. At first, I tried a reward system. I would set small goals for my mentee to accomplish and reward with one TikTok after completing one goal of the session. Then, I noticed he was paying attention to his work, so I shortened the sessions to only 30 minutes two times a week. This seemed to work better to have shorter sessions.
One of the most important pieces of advice that Fascio learned while being a part of the UCSD PAL Program is to take care of oneself first, in order to be in the best condition for those you are working with.
In every other internship leading up to being part of the PAL Program, I tried to put 200% of what I was doing without any breaks. I felt so much burnout. Especially this year, with everything online, I could feel the burnout even faster. Without the scheduled wellness activities structured into the practicum course I don't believe I would of taken some time for myself.
While not mxntoring/tutoring, they did some of the recommended wellness activities such as walks, Zumba, and watching selected movies that had to do with what they were learning in class. They also took additional classes during this quarter, and worked a job on campus. While working as a House Assistant (HA) in Muir, they applied the multitude of techniques they learned during the program to communicate with other students, and recommend different wellbeing activities for their residents that may be in distress.