For those looking for a volunteer opportunity to share your love for math with those who could use it, you’re in the right place.
In the middle of the pandemic, Jup graduated university and was looking for a job to start his new career, but he was also searching for something else: a way to give back to his community.
Jup personally knows how much of an impact it can have for a child to have someone to lean on when you’re struggling with something, especially if that something is math.
“When I was younger, I had a lot of help from either my older siblings or older cousins with math and school-related homework. My parents were immigrants and they were at work a lot. So, they couldn’t necessarily help me [study],” he said. “That extra support is something that I really benefited from.”
So, when Jup learned about the Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver’s Mentoring with Math program he knew he found what he was looking for.
In the Mentoring with Math program, volunteers, or Big Buddies as we call them, are matched with an elementary school student, their Little Buddy, between grades 3 to 7. The program is available for children who could use an extra hand with math outside of school with the help of a Mentor.
“I just wanted to extend that same support to these kids who might need that extra bit of support as well. So, just being able to see myself in them, and providing that help I received as a kid that was super rewarding for me,” Jup said.
Together, the Big and Little Buddy go through the JUMP Math curriculum and every lesson ends with some fun and games to help foster a friendship with an impact. Mentoring with Math has in-person programs and virtual programs that last 10 weeks each.
The first time Jup virtually met his Little Buddy he was excited to get going. He guided his Little Buddy through some exercises, had a couple of laughs, and finished up with a few games of Connect Four.
Jup has now gone on to volunteer for more than two years and has mentored lots of diverse children.
“Some Little Buddies were open from-the-gate. They were so open to just talking to a Big Buddy and super-friendly and outgoing [while] some were a bit more reserved. I thought both were great because with the kids who are a bit more reserved being able to see them open up over time was incredibly rewarding. Then the ones who were open-from-the-gate, well, we just had a great time,” he said with a joyful chuckle.
Some of the most satisfying outcomes of the program were getting to see the development each Little made and their growth in confidence throughout the duration of the program.
“I think there were two main types of impacts that I really appreciated. One of them was their overall progress in terms of math. Them, developing, understanding, and building off of stuff that we had covered in previous lessons or them becoming more open and even asking questions,” he said.
“I felt like that was a huge accomplishment for them that they felt comfortable being able to state when they didn’t understand something, because so often kids can feel judged if they admit that they don’t know something. So I felt like that was amazing.”
At the end of the day, Jup sees his role in the program as a Mentor to guide his Little Buddies through the challenges of mathematics and help them to learn how to believe in themselves.
More than just teaching
However, something that came as a surprise to him was just how much he ended up learning from his Littles in return.
“I think it impacted me in the way of just seeing them open up. It made me feel like I was having a significant impact on them. So, that was incredibly meaningful, but also seeing them progress was, in a weird way, inspiring to me as an adult. It’s like, ‘oh, they can take the steps to admit when they don’t know something. For their growth and their benefit. Why can’t I do that as an adult?’ So, I was there to teach them things, but I definitely learned things from them in return as well,” Jup said.
“The whole experience made me realize how mature kids can be … You don’t have to treat them like they’re this way younger person. They can understand a lot more about what’s around them than what you would think. So, I think just understanding how mature kids can be and how insightful they can be was a huge takeaway for me.”
After two years of volunteering, Jup was inspired by the impact the Mentoring with Math program had on youth and decided to make a career change to the non-profit sector in April, 2023. You can now find him on our team at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver team as a Mentoring Coordinator.
Interested in becoming a volunteer and math Mentor? Then check our Volunteer Inquiry page to learn more.
Ready to apply right now? Great! All you have to do is head to our Volunteer Application page.