The students that were present at the Community Center today were high school students who needed to complete tutoring hours in order to graduate. The students worked on assignments for their classes and were independent for the most part. I only had to help one student with their biology homework.
Today was my last day! I spent the entire class period with one student, helping her write a short paper about her family and her life. I really enjoyed helping her, I would catch grammar mistakes and pose questions to help her respond to the prompts better. I could tell she was opening up more to me about her life and really trying hard to get better at her English She even asked if I was going to be back tomorrow to help her more and was sad when I said I wasn't. That interaction along with the students all genuinely sad to see me go at the end made me feel so good. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm making that much of an impact but today I really could tell that I was.
On this day I worked with a guy on his pronunciation of many different words as well as discussing vocabulary words that have to do with transportation, specifically by car and bus. At the end of this day, we talked with the class about what we all were grateful for regarding the experience of us being there to help them. It was gratifying to hear what all of the students had to say. We also did this reflection in Spanish so it put me in the position of feeling how they feel when they talk to me in English which I think was a significant experience for me to have. I learned a lot about myself and the learning experience during this time in Le Center and I'm very grateful for having this opportunity.
In class today there was a substitute teacher and it was really interesting to see how someone else ran the class. There were also counselors pulling groups of kids out of class to have mini counseling sessions and some kids needed to get their vision checked by the nurse. I helped two students who spoke little English with the vision test. I translated the questions that the nurse was asking and then as the students read the letters in Spanish for the actual vision test I told the nurse if they were correct or incorrect. At first the nurse followed along because some of the letters sound the same but then when the student got to H and the student said ah-chee the nurse kind of looked at me because it did not sound like the English letter H. I was able to make sure the student got the correct score on the vision test. I could see how a simple language barrier could present issues in medical settings and cause people to get incorrect records. This could easily been one of the experiences mentioned in the "Habla Ya" Podcast.
Today, there was not a lot of students present. However, this allowed for more 1 on 1 experience. I again worked with a girl that I have been working with constantly throughout the semester. She is from Guatemala and speaks almost no English. In fact, her main language is an indigenous one, but she can understand Spanish. Therefore, we use Spanish to communicate. The focus today was holiday themed. We talked about Christmas and some traditions in America, as well as the Virgin of Guadalupe and some traditions in Mexico and Guatemala. It was a little sad leaving for the last time, as we have developed a bond throughout the semester. I hope that she continues to do well in Minnesota and begins to feel more at home.
Today was my last session at the community center. I did more work with some students and short story reading. I helped with words and pronunciation whenever they need it. For this last session, I was in the quieter area of the room. I noted some more improvement from the people in the class. Their reading and pronunciation had improved quite a bit. The teacher, like usual, checked in every once in a while. I couldn’t really view what she was doing in the other side of the room. I think an overall difficulty for this teacher is letting the students be so independent. There isn’t a lot of connecting and interacting that goes on. It’s not easy to learn in that kind of setting. I felt that I did kind of connect with the people who came to this session, as well as the other ones. However, even though I was making progress and connections it was kind of hard to really connect with everyone because of the age difference. Overall, this has been a very interesting experience for me. There is a big teaching difference from this semester of community service in comparison to last years. The sessions do provide a lot of benefits to those who go, but I think that there is also room for growth to make the program flourish as well.
Our last last session for volunteering was bittersweet. The majority of class we help people with their English skills and other questions that they had about the language or clarifications on rule. Then towards the end of class the coordinator asked us to speak in Spanish about what we gained from volunteering and how we will use what we gain in the future. Many of the other volunteers said that they gained more confidence in taking in Spanish and made them better able to switch between English and Spanish. It also tested their vocabulary and level of explanation to make sure they explain answers well to the people who asked questions. Something that I mentioned to the group was that I appreciated coming to volunteer because I was able to use my skill of being a translator for my parents to teach others. Because I've been in the position of knowing English before my parents then I was able to realistically tell people when they would use certain phrases, word, or action in everyday life. I also told them that since I will be taking another Spanish class, that I would request to come ack to Le Center and they were very excited and happy to hear that.