Taylor Daly is our newest Marketing intern and has taken a turn at writing a blog post for us. She is fresh out of high school and currently looking at a variety of college options. In the meantime, she is gaining some hands on experience at United Way of the Greater Triangle.
At an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor training session I recently attended, the instructors began the session in an interesting way: they started speaking to us in Japanese. They modeled a lesson that might take place in a typical Japanese classroom. The look on our volunteer faces varied from boredom, utter confusion, and fear that we would be called on next and have no idea how to respond. Finally,the lesson ended, and we realized the real reason behind it was not to teach us Japanese, but to show us the struggle that ESL students go through every day at school—except that in their classes, the majority of the other students actually do understand what is going on.
Later that week, I met with Paw Wa, an eleventh grader at Carrboro High School who moved to the US from Burma three years ago with her mother, grandmother, and two siblings. She was having trouble with Geometry. She showed me a graded test on which she had gotten every single question wrong. Then she told me that she had another test coming up on Monday. I knew then that I had my work cut out for me. After all, math is not my best subject either.
But we sat down at her kitchen table and got to work, going over a review sheet and poring through her textbook for the answers to her questions. I found that, even though I had taken Geometry several years ago, I was actually pretty familiar with a lot of the terms and formulas. After about an hour and a half, we had completed the sheet and even made some flashcards to help her study for the test. We made plans to meet again next week at the same time. I’m looking forward to hearing how she did on her test and seeing what else I can do to help her succeed.
There is an incredible amount of need in the world we live in. Anyone can be a volunteer; you don’t need any special skills or even a college degree. All you have to do is be willing to donate a few hours of your time to someone who could really use your help. The “Get Connected” section of the United Way website is an excellent place to start when looking for volunteer opportunities. Whether you sign up to sort clothing at the Salvation Army, deliver hot meals for Meals on Wheels, help clean up at the SPCA animal shelter, or any number of other services, you will know that your efforts are going to a great cause.