The tutor experience: Seeing lives change forever.
The biggest challenge for the Literacy Connection is to recruit new volunteers. The agency needs more people like Christine, who volunteers as a tutor and serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Literacy Connection. Christine understands the complexity of the process of learning a foreign language. She said, “You just cannot say ‘learn English’. You have to be taught because the English language is very complicated.” The biggest challenge for her, as a tutor, is teaching the adult learners because “they want to know why.”
Her dedication to improve her students’ lives is not limited to the literacy skills. She supports her students in their daily challenges by listening without any judgment, giving advice, and helping them to find jobs. She helps her students to achieve their literacy and life goals.
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Marta Zajda is an ECC student. For the last nine years, she has been living and working in the United States. She came to America, as a freshly graduated student, to fulfill her dreams. She was following her dreams and also her heart. When Marta met her husband, she started her family in the United States. Her life changed because the unexpected event occurred. When she was feeling very secure about her job, she lost it, and then she didn’t give up. Marta believes in unlimited opportunities of the country she is living in. She wants to pursue her new career, and the best way to make it possible is to attend a college. She decided to become a student at ECC to achieve her professional goals.
Dolly has been aware of the Literacy Connection program for twenty years, but she was unable to be a part of it due to her busy teaching schedule. However, now that she is retired, she has more time on her hands and is able to volunteer. Volunteering at the Literacy Connection fulfills her passion for helping people.
According to Dolly, tutoring requires a lot of patience, time, and encouragement. For example, one of her students wanted to get his driver’s license for his work, but he did not have the chance to speak English because everyone spoke Spanish. Due to this, Dolly got a driver’s rulebook and started working with him, using basic vocabulary from the book. The following week, he took the test and passed. Being a tutor is important to Dolly because she is able to connect with other people. She says it feels great to be a part of the Literacy Connection because she is able to help so many fantastic individuals. She described the tutoring experience as gratifying and satisfying because what she does helps individuals achieve their goals.
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Being a student, according to Marcelle Dazue, is wonderful. Dazue has been a student at Elgin Community College for one and a half years. She was born in Cameroon and was raised in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. She came to the United States in 2009 without speaking English. During that period, she was feeling depressed due to her lack of language skills. Marcelle started as a student at ECC in 2012. She wants to study Nursing. ‘’Going to the tutoring,” Marcelle said, ‘’has made me successful.’’ Today, Marcelle is happy that her English is progressing every day.
Forrest and Peg always try to keep a nice relationship between them and their learners in order to make them feel comfortable and help them to feel confident because it is hard to communicate for non-native English speakers. Concurrently, they have been taking a Spanish class since their learners are Hispanic, and it helps them to understand their students better. They believe that the more comfortable the students feel the more improvements they will make. Moreover, they adjust their time and teaching technique according to the learner's necessity that way, they can focus specifically in the student’s vulnerable points.
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Miwa Sakamaki is a student at the Elgin Community College that came from Japan. Since she had a lot of problems to communicate, she decided to take ESL classes. She has learned English from the basics supported by many people; at the same time, she has learned the American culture. She likes to discover new things from different cultures, and she enjoys spending time with her international friends. Miwa lives in Elgin with her husband.
Nancy had been working for profit and non-profit organizations in business since she was 16 years old. She worked different places in the USA, including Chicago, Illinois, New York City, New York, Omaha, Nebraska, Jacksonville, Florida, and Madison, Wisconsin. Since she has lived Elgin, Illinois for seven years, her last job was being an office manager for 120 people six years ago. In general, she had substantial experience in managing people in her adulthood life.
After Gerner retired, she immediately joined Literacy Connection to serve as a tutor and an office helper. She said, “The bottom line is helping others. As we grow up, there were people who helped us when we needed that help. Now, it is my turn to pay this back. I can’t do for those people who helped me, but I can help others.”
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Recently, Elgin Community College started Learning Community for ESL students, and one of these students is Meskerem Kinfe who has Amharic native language. To assimilate into the culture of the USA, it’s essential to learn the language. She is currently taking ESL Advanced C- Level 10 and English 101-115 courses. Learning community connects classroom to the real world, so she wrote for her writing assignment about a Literacy Connection’s tutor, Nancy Gerner. “Gerner has been” Kinfe said, “giving back to the community all her life.” She also said that “if I have time, I like to volunteer, and then I will get personal satisfaction.” In general, Kinfe has developed from Learning Community substantial knowledge.
Vivienne is one of the volunteers who gives her free time to serve and help her community. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois, a regular person like any one else, a normal housewife that likes to take care of herself doing exercises, but with something that probably distinguishes her from others, her dedication to help and serve others. She thinks that if people have some free time, they should serve the community. By being a volunteer, she feels good about herself, her brain, and her health because it makes her develop social skills. Her motivation is her community because she said that everybody should give back to the community in some way, and what better way to help the community.
Vivienne’s professional background is in education, as a speech therapist for 33 years. Her major experience was with children from kindergarten through 8th grade. After she retired, she was looking for somplace where she could apply her skills as a speech therapist, but she did not want a regular job with schedules involved. She wanted something that would let her use her professional background and at the same time offer something to the community. So what a better place than Literacy Connection?
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Soledad is a student from ESL Learning Community 101, in Elgin Community College. She is from Venezuela. She arrived four and a half years ago from Venezuela. She started in the ESL program last semester. She likes to learn new things and improve in her English language everyday. This semester, she enjoyed her experience with Literacy Connection not only because she had the opportunity to conduct an interview by herself in English, but also because she had the opportunity to know the extraordinary job that Literacy Connection does. She said, that it was a privilege to her to have the opportunity to write a profile for her interviewee, and meet a person who volunteers because she said, “I think that people who volunteer are worthy of admiration.”