After a long fun summer, KYCC’s Menlo After School Program (MASP) students were ready to start the new school year. In late August, during their first week in the after-school program, students wrote a compare-and-contrast paper based on the documentary Back to School, where two children from different countries experience their first day of school.

MASP serves low-income, at-risk youth in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Located in KYCC’s Menlo Family Center, MASP focuses and ensures academic, social, and emotional growth. Students have enrichment activities twice a week to help them build self esteem, self confidence and strong social skills.

Our third- to fifth-grade elementary school students showed a great deal of interest in learning about the struggles that students from other countries have to endure to acquire an education. “In other countries kids have to pay for school, books, and their lunch,” Shawn, a fourth grader, stated, when discussing the lives of two students whose lives were less fortunate. “I’m lucky that I don’t have to pay for either.”

After learning about a young girl whose life was in danger from a religious group against females pursuing education, Genesis shared, “I feel bad that she and the rest of her classmates have to fear for their life for going to school. I’m a female and I wouldn’t want to feel scared every time I go to school.” By hearing the students’ reactions, MASP staff was very pleased that students seemed more appreciative about their life, being able to school and obtaining an education.