News & Blog: Tutors

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My Experience as an AmeriCorps Tutor

Miranda

Guest Blogger: Miranda Buckwald. Miranda has been part of the Literacy Center of West Michigan and the Adult Tutoring Program as an AmeriCorps member since August 2017. She tutors six English Language Learners and also facilitates our English Conversation Club. 

 As an AmeriCorps member, I serve the Literacy Center as a full-time tutor. This means I have a caseload of learners that I meet with every week and I run an event called Conversation Club.

Working closely with the Adult Tutoring Program has shown me that the best thing we offer learners is flexibility. Since August, I’ve met with learners all over Grand Rapids who have unique backgrounds and goals. I’ve met learners who work full time and learners who are raising families. I’ve met refugees, single-parents, some studying for their driver’s licenses, some working towards citizenship, and others who just want to help their children with homework.

I see these qualities reflected in the individual goals of every learner, and I get to help them work towards these goals. Sometimes, this means meeting twice in one week to study for a citizenship test scheduled the next Tuesday. Other times, it means showing a learner how to text. I’ve learned that every task, big or small, is important to my learners in their everyday lives.

In addition to tutoring, I also run a weekly Conversation Club. Through the club, I get to interact with more learners in a less structured atmosphere. During each one hour meeting, I lead a group of people in conversation by providing a topic and a few speaking activities. The club, which is attended by both learners and tutors, has proven to be a great place to meet new people in the community. I’ve learned a lot about different countries and cultures.

Serving at the Literacy Center has allowed me to see just how deeply literacy impacts everyday life. I’ve learned that every small accomplishment, such as filling out medical forms or learning to text, impacts the lives of each learner in a huge way. These everyday victories are what feeds into the community-wide impact of the Literacy Center.

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