NBC Bay Area
Some acts of kindness are so simple, even the perpetrators are not aware of what they have done.
It is likely, for example, that the two students who a few years ago approached high school freshman Rama Prasad while she sat alone eating her lunch had no idea the chain of events they were about to set off.
“Because of them, I am who I am today,” Rama says.
Who Rama is, is founder of San Jose’s Summit Tahoma High School’s Peer Tutoring Club, a group with a remarkable track record for having just been in business for a couple of years.
So far this school year, the club has been responsible for one-on-one tutoring of a full two-thirds of their entire school’s student body. Rama, this year alone, has personally tutored close to half of the students at her school.
It’s an amazing accomplishment for someone who, while an academic standout, always had trouble simply talking to her classmates.
“I was really quiet,” Rama says of her younger self. “I never talked to people.”
It was Rama’s painful shyness and social awkwardness that prompted her parents to seek a new environment for her after eighth grade, transferring Rama from a prestigious private school to Summit, a newly formed charter school on San Jose’s east side.
The change of scenery didn’t work immediately, though. Just the opposite, in fact: Rama was now a shy teenager in a school where she knew absolutely no one.
Which explains why, that day a few years back, Rama was sitting alone on a bench in the school’s courtyard eating her lunch.
“But then there were a couple of students that came up to me and said ‘Hey, are you new? What’s your name, where did you come from?'” Rama says. She started hanging out with the two new, friends and coming out of her shell.
Rama began looking for ways to pay forward the kindness shown to her by others.
The opportunity came when Rama and her classmates took a practice test for the California High School Exit Exam. “I passed but a lot of others didn’t,” Rama recalls. “I was devastated because if they didn’t pass, they couldn’t graduate.”
Rama asked her teacher if she could coach her classmates. The answer was yes. “I spent three months coaching them, and they all passed. And this was the start of the Peer Tutoring Club.”
Every day during lunch, and all day on Fridays, Rama and her fellow tutors are available to help. Rama says they are days when a line stretches out the door of fellow students looking for help.
Rama says there are days when they are so busy, she doesn’t get a chance to eat her lunch. Which, she says, is still preferable to eating alone on a bench.
“What I believe is that students who are doing really academically well, they should help other students who are less fortunate, who need help.”
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