Reflections

September 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Posted in ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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On September 6th four twenty-something-year-olds, myself included, began our year of service as AmeriCorps members at LCNV. This first week has involved completing a bunch of paperwork, learning about the programs and structure of the Literacy Council, and beginning to become familiar with all of the resources that will be available to us as classroom ESOL teachers.  It can be a bit overwhelming thinking about all that we are going to have to do over the next year. I know that I am also nervous about starting teaching – standing in front of a large group of individuals and being responsible for what they are learning is quite intimidating, especially since I have limited teaching experience. There is something that has made this experience less intimidating, and that is the people at LCNV.

Meeting the staff has been the highlight of orientation so far. Everyone who I have met is extremely caring and so obviously passionate about the mission of LCNV that you cannot help but be touched by their dedication and enthusiasm. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Patricia Donnelly, the lively Executive Director, and something she said really struck me.  She was talking about how, with the recession, possible donors concentrate more on donating to causes that help people meet their basic needs (food, shelter) and organizations that focus on education get passed over because people do not view education as a basic need. But it is the most important and basic need! As the old saying goes, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Basic literacy and English language skills are important for making friends, taking care of children and obtaining employment in this country (which lets people provide their own food and shelter). If you give someone the right tools, they can change their lives permanently and for the better.

I think the work that is done through the LCNV is so important and this is the very reason why I joined AmeriCorps.  I want to help people improve their lives in a way that is more permanent than donating food or clothing to a drive (which is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, don’t get me wrong). I want to help people obtain jobs, take better care of their children, or even just successfully navigate a grocery store.  Mostly I want to have a meaningful relationship with students who are just as invested in learning as I am in teaching them, and that is what I am looking forward to this year.

Jessica Raines, AmeriCorps

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