Sometime during May, a friend of mine introduced me to a new service club called iExplore. I was told that the volunteers of the club would be reaching out to elementary students in China and teaching them English. With summer just around the corner and my schedule completely blank, I signed up with the attitude of just trying it out.
I figured that it would be a way for me to pass time while staying at home and social distancing. Little did I know that this club would take up so much of my time and become such an important part of my everyday life.
Dedicated to providing an online learning platform for students across the globe, iExplore Club was started by three rising sophomores of Troy High School: Ryan Kern, Devin Han and Jerry Zou. The club was officially founded in June, and in less than a few months, the club has recruited more than 80 volunteers and over 500 students around the world, including China, Canada, Singapore and the US.
While all the volunteers are high schoolers, the age of the students ranges from kindergarten to middle school, and their English levels vary dramatically.
In order for each class to be tailored to a specific level, board members divided all the students into smaller groups of five to 10 in terms of English proficiency, interests and age. After being assigned a group of students, the volunteers would begin to formulate a customized curriculum for their class and hold weekly lessons via Zoom.
Aside from English lessons, iExplore also expanded into other specific academic territories such as computer science and the natural sciences.
With such a fast-growing club, effective cooperation is key. The founders built a core leadership team for club management, with numerous branches overseeing the volunteers’ work. According to Kern, the current president of iExplore, efficient collaboration is essential in his leadership.
“We need to have good communication and relations with one another throughout the entire process to ensure that not only is everyone on the same page but because everyone is on the same page, everything is much more fluid,” Kern said. “If there are any problems, we would be able to knock it down at the very beginning.”
In addition to weekly classes taught to small groups, iExplore also encourages volunteers to host seminars that are catered to all students in the club. Volunteers choose seminar topics according to their interests as they are not limited to academic subjects. These seminars, usually around an hour-long, are then recorded and posted to YouTube, allowing for an even wider audience to view.
“By holding these seminars, we can create accessible resources online, not only for students of iExplore but also for anyone curious in learning,” Kern said. “Our ultimate goal here is to help students everywhere to further their understanding through our online seminar recordings. We hope to have a profound impact on everyone and be able to help as many students as possible.”