Jean Buys has been a tutor with us since 2015 and has worked alongside her current learner, Kim Thi Le, since September. Jean is a veteran who served in the Air Force, Army, and National Guard. Jean now spends her time working as a career and life coach while taking care of her family.
How did you get involved with the Literacy Center?
My mom instilled the love of reading in me at a young age. Every month I would get a Dr. Seuss book in the mail. She'd call me in from outside and together we’d read the book. Also, my mother was as a tutor [at the Literacy Center].
It was during the Literacy Center’s annual picnic that I'd get to meet my mother’s learners and their families. It was like a small seed that began growing inside me after the second and third picnic. I wanted to get involved.
What have you learned from your learners?
With all my learners, I've learned about their lives and stories. With my current learner, I'm learning about her life back in her home country. Her family moves through life with such gratitude and class. They are warm people and do things with mindful intentions. I admire how they remember the sacred things in their culture and continue to celebrate their traditions.
What are some of your proudest moments as a tutor?
I imagine every tutor loves those "ah ha!" light bulb moments!
I can recall great moments with my previous learner. She wanted to plan a trip back home because she had not seen her family in 18 years. So for an assignment she wrote about the process and we studied airlines together. She was able to go back home for a visit. She even figured out how to get a priority boarding pass. She accomplished this independently. I was so proud of her!
Do you see a lasting impact?
My learner’s self-confidence has increased. She had very little confidence at first thinking that maybe she was too old to learn. But I put a stop to that and helped her see that it was not true! I told her it’s never too late to learn something new. And now she is starting to see that she can indeed learn and improve her English.
What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a tutor?
This is for any person! It's very easy to see how much of an impact you can have without having a degree in teaching English. That's what makes the Literacy Center so great-- it's an opportunity for anybody.
If you're interested in becoming a Literacy Center tutor, sign up for a brief volunteer orientation online or call (616) 459-5151.