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Tutor Inspired by Character, Curiosity, and Resilience

 

January is National Mentoring Month.

All month long we are featuring guest posts from many of our local nonprofits that work with youth and need volunteers to become mentors and tutors. On January 26, 2012, the United Way Volunteer Center invites you to our annual Mentor and Tutor Opportunity Fair from 11:00 - 2:00 at the Omni Hotel. There you will be able to meet in person with representatives from 17 local organizations and fit the right fit for you as a mentor or tutor.

Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on!

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In June 2009, I started volunteering as a tutor for Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle. After attending the tutor training, I was assigned to teach English to a middle-aged woman who had escaped the harshness of life in North Korea. The International Rescue Committee had brought her to live in our small university town.

When we first met, she said that her goal was to improve her ability to speak and understand English, even though she had successfully settled into the local Korean-speaking community. As it turned out, she did improve significantly. After just a year of meeting one-to-one for an hour twice a week, she had risen to the “High Beginning” level. Moreover, during that time she obtained her green card and got a better job with the local university. I felt pleased for having helped her in her efforts to make a new life in America.

What surprised me, however, was how much I benefited from the experience. Our conversations enabled me to learn about a culture and country very different from my own, and at the same time I learned what is distinctive about America by seeing it through her eyes. It was also stimulating to learn about aspects of the English language that we take for granted, but which can seem very strange from the point of view of a non-native. Why is the opposite of “put on my jacket” not “put off…” but “take off my jacket?”

 

Most importantly, however, I have been inspired by her character, curiosity, and resilience in the face of difficulties.  It has been more than just a satisfying accomplishment to tutor her these past two years—it has been an inspiration. I am grateful to Literacy Volunteers for having made this experience possible for me.

 

Guest post sumitted by: George Gorham Garrett,Secretary, Board of Directors, Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/ Albemarle

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