Melanie Anaya

Melanie Anaya

I was matched with PPL through the Bonner Community Program at Brown University and worked with Chris Bourret until I graduated!

My favorite accomplishment was leading my own Citizenship class. I had done lots of administrative work and acted as a teaching assistant in the Library’s Learning Lounge and in other peoples’ Citizenship classes, but actually being in charge of my own class and having two hours to take my mind off of classwork was essential, especially once COVID hit.

From the back seat of the car, I heard a gravelly voice from the radio detailing the Civil War. My mom, in the driver’s seat, listened intently in preparation for her citizenship exam. I hung onto every word too because, at eight years old, it was I who taught her. Every night, after completing my homework, I rushed over to read to her about the history of the United States and quiz her on tricky questions while she cooked dinner. Before, my teaching revolved around helping her with English in the doctor’s office or official documents. Now, we were accomplishing a tangible goal together while I learned about my own country.

It was these moments that formed my love for teaching. Ever since this moment of my childhood, I had been drawn to teaching and I yearned to make a difference in others’ lives as well. That’s why, when I applied to the Bonner Program at Brown, my first choice was Providence Public Library. I was especially drawn to the Library’s Citizenship program and, as a future physician, I knew I had to teach my patients and find new methods to learn and teach. Therefore, I was lucky enough to get matched with PPL and meet Chris, who is the best mentor, friend, and boss a girl could ever ask for.

I learned an incredible amount about teaching, but also about people, their lives, and dreams that went well beyond the bubble that was Brown University. As a current medical student, I hold these values as very dear to me because physicians often don’t have the time to let patients speak their stories. However, I want to practice medicine the same way PPL and Chris taught me to teach, with the person in the center. I could write essays about how important this experience has been to me as a person and a student, but those would never be enough to show my gratitude. Though I am no longer the young girl, sitting in the back seat of a car teaching her mother English, the same desire to connect and build community through teaching fuels me.

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