Programs We Sponsor

Bryn Mawr Buddies Current Volunteers

Kaeun Bae
Biology Major and Psychology Minor

I love snorkeling, watching sunsets, and stargazing! I enjoy practicing the piano and guitar, and love art. Someday, I hope to be a doctor and live abroad, somewhere in the middle of nowhere!

I love volunteering at Merion Elementary… just spending a little bit of time with the students there has been such a fun and memorable time for me.  It's been incredible meeting them and just helping out in the classroom to the best of my ability. I've also had the chance to help the teacher run some classroom activities just to see how the students interact with each other, even though some have difficulties such as a language barrier.

After I arrived at Merion Elementary, one of the coordinators assigned me to a Korean student who initially struggled with the language transition. I stayed in the classroom to see how they were all doing, both socially and academically and it was great to see that they were adjusting so quickly to their environment.  I continued volunteering in that same classroom, and I’m now acting as an assistant to the teacher and helping the students when I can.


Fiona Benmayor '16
Majoring in Psychology

I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey. I spent the last three years of my high school education in Boston, MA. I enjoy traveling, learning about new cultures as well as fashion.

I have had an extremely positive experience at Merion Elementary School. During the 2013-2014 school years I worked with five different Buddies. It was extremely interesting to see how each student struggled with a different aspect of being in the United States. Some of them had more language issues while others had more behavioral and cultural challenges. I worked with them closely and collaborated with their teachers to help them fully understand the course material, to make friends, and to even brainstorm in order to find ways of learning English faster. Throughout the semester, I watched each student grow and adapt to their surrounding better. In the last day of school, one of the shyest students I worked with opened up to me that he really enjoyed being at Merion Elementary School and that he appreciated his friends and how welcoming the school staff had been to him. This was only one of the many instances that I was able to help one of the students express his thoughts and make sure his teachers knew how he felt. In addition to working with five different students, all of their classmates welcomed me each time I was there and frequently asked me questions for guidance, which made the experience even more valuable.   

Yaoqi Dong '17
Major undecided…probably Computer Science and Economics

After volunteering at Merion Elementary School, I now notice the big difference between Chinese and American elementary education. This experience has given me the opportunity to learn more about the American culture. I enjoy being friends not only with my Little Buddy, but with the whole class too.

My Little Buddy is an outgoing child. Every time I go to the school, he comes up to say hi and to tell me all that happened to him. He is active in class and dares to speak up, but sometimes he interrupts the class. I think being with little buddies means more than just teaching English; it also involves teaching them how to behave properly in class.

Right now I aspire to be a positive influence on my Little Buddy and I also enjoy walking and thinking but not running.

Tianyi He '17

Potential Math major and Economics minor

I like travelling, playing the piano and listening to music. I enjoy helping people and solving problems for them. I especially have a soft spot for children because they are just adorable.

As an international student from China, I really appreciate the opportunities that Bryn Mawr Buddies Program offers so that I could help children overcome the same problem that I had been through.  I’m so glad to be part of the program and be able to work with children from China at Merion Elementary School. I have always loved kids and every child in the class is so lovely and really fun to work with. It's both challenging and fascinating to help the children to overcome language barriers and I love to hear them share their paintings and stories with me. It’s a great pleasure to see the progress my Little Buddies and I have made together because I also learned a lot from the program. I enjoyed every afternoon with the kindergarten classes and my heart literally melted when a very quiet child finally opened up and asked me “Can you help me?” It’s an amazing program and I strongly encourage all multilingual students to join in!

Yuxin Jiang '14
Political Science and Religion (double major)

My hometown is Changzhou, a medium sized city near Shanghai. I like 70% dark chocolate with sea salt, and Gintama, a Japanese anime.

I really enjoyed my time with my Little Buddy.  Different from my expectation, I did not only help him to translate his teacher's instructions and communicate with other students, but I also encouraged him to finish his school work and gave him more confidence by just being  there for him.  In return, he helped me to understand how he first learned things, and taught me to be patient. Working with Brian was a wonderful experience for me.

Maria Nam '14
Chemistry Major

I was born in Korea and moved to the U.S. at age 12. Because I have had the same kind of experience to what our Merion Elementary Buddies are going through, I felt very passionate about helping out and making the students feel more comfortable in a foreign environment. During the 2014-15 school year, I worked with a first grader who was shy and did not speak up much at first.  However, after several weeks, she started opening up to me and to the rest of the class. At such a young age, she picked up English pretty rapidly. The language wasn't the problem, but there was more than that; a cultural barrier.  As time went by, I noticed her interacting more with her peers, and that really made my days at Merion Elementary School a worthwhile experience. On my part, it was nice to take a little break and get off campus for a few hours every week, and of course, getting to know adorable welcoming first graders always lightened up my day.

Ziyi Yan '16

Mathematics and Economics major

I am a rising junior from Beijing, China, and the co-founder and vice president of the Tea Club on campus.  I enjoy drinking tea with my friends and doing volunteer works as well. In my free time, I usually watch movies and read books.  

I have had a fantastic experience at Merion Elementary School.  I work with a first grade student, from China, who arrived in the US less than a year ago. I help her with English writing and I talk to her about her school life. Through the process, she has made great progress in writing sentences and has become more willing to learn new words. Volunteering at Merion Elementary has also been a great opportunity for me to improve my communication skills. I highly recommend that other international students participate in the program.

Yige Zhu '15

Rising Senior majoring in Psychology

My involvement in child education started with an Educational Psychology class and the associated field placement in an elementary school working with ESL students; my experiences in different schooling systems further inspired an interest in studying cross-cultural differences in educational approaches and settings. Thus, the Bryn Mawr Buddies program not only provides me with an opportunity to participate in meaningful social service, but also fits my academic goal perfectly.

At Merion Elementary School, my duty is to help my Little Buddy improve her communication skills, and to provide the necessary reassurance for self-identity, despite the language obstacle she is facing. As an international student, I am able to relate to the child's feelings when entering an unfamiliar cultural and lingual environment.  Being able to help children who come to the United States to attend school from my home country also gives me a special sense of joy and satisfaction.