Final AmeriCorps 2014 Reflection: “LCNV is so lucky to have the greatest volunteers in the world …”

October 3, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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As the summer semester ended, a sigh of relief escaped my mouth and a sense of freedom ensued as I watched the last student leave my classroom. Then it hit me; while many of my students would return the next semester to continue their studies, I wouldn’t be there to guide them to their respective classrooms on the first day of class. We wouldn’t chat about what they did during their break. I wouldn’t get to see the progress they made throughout the semester. This was the end of my journey as an AmeriCorps Member/ ESOL Instructor with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

However, thinking back on it, I can’t completely be sad that my time has come to an end. Throughout this service year I have met many incredibly resilient students from all kinds of backgrounds that have lived truly unimaginable lives. From those undocumented living in fear of deportation, to those seeking asylum from politically war-torn countries, to the many who have transcended cultural and religious barriers in order to become “more American,” these are the students with whom I am honored to  have met. I’m going to miss their smiles, their laughter, and the fun and fearless energy they brought to class. I’m especially going to miss those who continued the whole year with me such as my Congolese student –to whom I asked in French one day, “si vous poulet venir…“ without realizing I said, “If you chicken come…”

As I look back on my AmeriCorps service year, another reason to smile is because of the volunteers with whom I worked. LCNV is so lucky to have the greatest volunteers in the world offering their time whether it be by teaching and/or tutoring our students. I want to thank all of the volunteers I immediately managed with special thanks to Linda Drumheller, Margaret Breen and Laura Schell. Students absolutely love Linda –which is evident because they don’t want to leave her class. As a retired ESOL teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools she was my listening ear and my mentor. Throughout the semester she advised me on many things whether it was how to handle difficult students or how to make my class more engaging. She also allowed me to steal many of her remarkable teaching techniques, something for which I’m truly grateful. My tag-team duo comprised of a retired FCPS Reading Specialist, Margaret, and a relatively newcomer to the field of education but an LCNV vet, Laura, who made managing one of the biggest classroom sites at LCNV possible and extremely fun. Both are tremendously effective and wonderful teachers. They, just like Linda, listened to me during times of frustration and offered teaching ideas whenever needed. Thursday evenings though are definitely not going to be the same

Last but not least, one thing I’ll look back on and be glad that happened will be the fact that I worked with pretty awesome people. I couldn’t have been luckier to work with the three most amazing AmeriCorps members Shani, Xavier and Renato and the honorary fifth member Ashley King, Student Advisor. I’ll miss randomly bursting out in song and serenading you all in the middle of some fruitful conversations at the AmeriCorner (nickname for the AmeriCorps corner of the office). To Shani, Ashley, and Xavier, have fun next year and whip the new members into shape! To everyone else at LCNV, thanks for all you’ve done. You’ve made my time as an AmeriCorps member truly positive.

Tristen Mimiaga, AmeriCorps ESOL Classroom Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

 

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