Why did you decide to tutor with the Literacy Center? What was it that drew you to this volunteer opportunity?
I moved to Michigan from Vermont in May of 2018. Upon moving to Michigan, I was looking for volunteer opportunities where I could be involved in some way with my new community.
One day, I saw a billboard from the Literacy Center describing the need for volunteers. When I saw the billboard, I was drawn to this volunteer opportunity because of my personal experience. When I came to the United States in my early teens, someone who volunteered as an ESL teacher took the time to help my family and I learn English. I never forgot this person’s help and I told myself that one day I would help someone learn English. My decision to volunteer with the Literacy Center was an easy one.
Tell me about your learner. What have you learned from him?
My learner is a gentleman from Syria who came to Michigan with his family a few years ago. He is my age, so it is easy to relate to each other. He and his family are currently taking ESL classes through Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) where they attend several days a week. Our sessions consist of conversing to help him practice his verbal/listening skills and learning new basic words. One thing I have learned from my learner is how hard he works to learn English. Something that I now take for granted requires significant effort to learn.
What is one of your proudest moments as a tutor?
My learner and I have been meeting since late 2018. During this time, he has significantly improved his listening and speaking abilities to the point that he feels confident enough to ask simple questions at the pharmacy, grocery store and other places. I think this is one my learner’s more significant accomplishments.
As you know, the results of tutoring are not immediate. For example, we have been working on sight words for several months and my proudest moment came recently when my learner was able to recognize and read over 400 sight words with minimal assistance.
Why is this worthwhile to you personally?
Volunteering at the Literacy Center is worthwhile for me personally because I am involved with our community, make friends with other people who I would not have the opportunity to meet, and because I have personally benefitted from similar program.
I just want to mention that I really enjoy the time we spend together. I get to learn new things such as another person’s country, culture, etc.
What would you say to someone who is considering tutoring?
I would tell them to not hesitate. The Literacy Center provides great training and support as we work with our assigned learners.