How I Spent My Summer

August 2019

For most college students, summer vacation is a time to hit the beach for some much needed R&R, a time to work a part-time job, or a time to fit in an internship. We are so very lucky that one particular college student decided to share her summer with us at The Connection, volunteering her time as an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor.

Julie Phipps is a student at Washington and Lee University majoring in Business Administration and Spanish. She became intrigued by languages in high school and is now fluent in Spanish and learning German. On-campus, she is also involved with many religious organizations and volunteers at the local public schools.

“I grew up coming to The Connection.  It was there I swam in my first pool as a baby, spent my summers at the day camp and all the while in between, I was on the Summit Summies Gymnastics Team” says Julie. “The time that I spent at The Connection was very formative, so I was thrilled to find out I had the opportunity to give back to the organization and provide a sense of community to others by teaching ESL over the summer.

This class is about more than learning English; it’s also about creating a network of friends with similar experiences and assimilating to a new culture while sharing their own with others.

I am so privileged at the opportunity to be the one who helps these wonderful people on this part of their journey, while also learning about each of their unique backgrounds.  During one of the classes, I taught my students about prominent religious traditions in this area, as well as US holidays in general.  At the same time, my students taught me about the most important holidays in their native countries, along with ways they keep up their faith in a new environment.

I would advise anyone and everyone to volunteer!  Teaching ESL has been such a rewarding experience for me; I feel that I have learned just as much, if not more than my students!  It is both interesting and inspiring to work with people that have entirely reinvented their lives.”

Thanks to The Connection’s committed volunteers, well over 15,000 hours of individualized instruction, work, and leadership are shared with us each year. We are so incredibly appreciative of these members and friends who share their talents, help us realize our mission, and improve the quality of life for so many in our community!