I became involved with The Connection through a friend who is an ESL tutor here. She told me what a rewarding volunteer experience ESL tutoring was and thought I would be a good fit because of my desire to teach. After meeting with the supportive ESL Director, teaching a few classes, meeting both the students and fellow volunteer tutors, I realized that this program was a haven to learn and share in our community. My experiences with everyone I have met at The Connection, from tutors, support staff and the members have all been warm and welcoming, like a large extended family.
Through The Connection, I have had the pleasure of meeting many who have taught me about their cultures and have reinforced that we all want to belong and contribute in our own ways, whether through work, family and or friends. Practicing everyday conversations with my students allows me to learn about their personal lives. I come to care for each of them as a friend and as a result, look forward to our classes with the same enthusiasm I would if I were getting together with close friends.
As an outgrowth of ESL tutoring, I started helping a couple of my students prepare for the US Naturalization Interview and Test. The Naturalization process can be difficult for immigrants who speak English as a second language. The Interview section has many questions which can cause problems if they misunderstood the meaning. It is a challenge to teach and learn, but thanks to my hard-working students’ diligent efforts, two became US citizens last year. I was honored and thrilled to have been a part of their journey and to know that our community and country benefit from their citizenship.
I also foster dogs until someone adopts them through the Home for Good Dog Rescue. I think I’m getting more than I’m giving in volunteering for both organizations. The deep sense of appreciation, whether it’s from an ESL student or one of my foster pups, is so fulfilling for me.
I feel I have learned so much from the wonderful ESL Director, Jane Walbridge. I consider her a role model. I often wonder how she manages so many students with their varying levels of English fluency. I admire her endeavor to give both a good learning and teaching experience and her ability to articulate the nuances of each problem or task that comes her way. Truly someone to hold in high esteem.