Matthew Singh has a strong belief in purpose, he always has. Amidst the crowded halls of his high school, he has long struggled to find his path despite an aching feeling that something more was awaiting him.
During his first two years of high school, Matthew said he had lost his way when he began following the wrong crowd and skipping class. Before long, the bright, self-described lover of philosophy was in his own philosophical crisis, one that stripped him of purpose. “I knew I could do better for myself. I realized change was inevitable. To transition into something better, I just needed motivation,” said Matthew.
He found that motivation when he transferred to East Side House’s program at Bronx Haven High School. Somehow East Side House, he says, and its staff helped hold him accountable for his role not only in the school, but in the community. “If I came in late to class, they wanted to know why and I had to provide an answer,” said Matthew. “I took the wall down and let somebody into my world.”
In hindsight, Matthew says that world was one that quickly could have turned into a dark place if he had not been offered the chance to change. “I believe some opportunities come to you at just the right time. East Side House came to me at a time when I needed it most.” Soon Matthew was seizing every opportunity that came his way.
Elizabeth Ferreras, who works closely with Matthew, said from the moment East Side House staff met Matthew everyone could see his potential. Despite being nearly a year and a half behind in high school credits, it was clear the right guidance and structured support could enable Matthew to succeed. “Matthew is an old soul, his positive energy impacts people who are around him,” said Elizabeth.
It was that energy that Elizabeth sought in students applying for the 2018 East Side House Student Ambassadors Program. “We knew the students who would benefit from this experience, and he was at the top of the list,” said Elizabeth. Matthew indeed applied and was accepted into the program, traveling in May with 19 other ESH students to Europe.
Even getting on a plane alone was a life-changing experience for Matthew, who had long dreamed of seeing a world outside his Bronx neighborhood. “I felt I had a great responsibility in being chosen” said Matthew. He soaked up every opportunity to learn, grown and document every moment of the trip in the journal they were asked to keep. As he toured historic sites in London, Paris, Florence and Rome, Matthew says he began to feel a profound shift in his life