Faces of Castle Square: Sophia Mei, Square Roots Coordinator
October 28, 2016
Each month, we feature a Castle Square community member to highlight the vibrant community we are all a part of. This month we will learn about Sophia Mei, CSTO's Square Roots Program Coordinator:
How did you get involved with youth development?
I started off when I was 13, and I volunteered at a Chinese school summer program. It was a program where parents could send their child 9-5 and the whole premise of the program was to teach kids Chinese. From there, I just really liked volunteering as I felt it was the best way and only way I could contribute as a young teenager. Then, in 2016, I volunteered during my summer vacation at a summer program in Chinatown, a 7am-6pm time commitment Monday-Fridays for 7 weeks. It was through that experience, I learned what was important to me which was community, commitment, and youth. My past volunteer experiences has shaped a lot of what I do at Square Roots, and that experience further proved to me that youth development was really important to me and something I enjoyed.
How did you get involved with Square Roots?
I’ve always had a passion for volunteering, and one summer, I was working at a retail store downtown and had a friend who was an assistant group leader in Square Roots (known as YEP at the time). I started going with her once a week to volunteer, and fell in love with the place. I chose to volunteer with the program instead of working. That’s how I knew I wanted to be involved with it more- being willing to work a volunteer job instead of a paying one. That fall, I was hired and worked in the program via work study at Suffolk as a Group Leader. I worked as a Group Leader for over five years and did my co-op as a Program Coordinator at Castle Square through Northeastern before I took on the role of Square Roots Program Coordinator in January of 2015.
What sticks out to you about the Square Roots program?
If I had a child in my care, this would be my ideal program to enroll them in. I really enjoy the balance that the staff provides the children in the program. The staff provides top notch academic tutoring and homework help, and emphasizes literacy skill building. The staff spends considerable time getting to know our students, which affords them insights into how to best engage each child in developing these vital academic skills This is important because each child that walks through our doors are different in background, personality, and experiences – it’s through conversation and building interpersonal relationships with each youth that we are able to become better educators.