119. Teach someone to read
Attempted January 2002
In an effort to fulfill this goal, I contacted my local literacy council and told them I wanted to volunteer. The program coordinator told me that they didn’t really need any literacy tutors at the time, but that they were desperately short on English as a Second Language tutors. She said that they provided all the training and only asked for two hours a week commitment for a few months at the minimum. I agreed.
I loved the tutoring. It was challenging and it gave me an opportunity to learn about another culture first-hand. My first student was a woman about my age who was married with two children, and a third one on the way. She seemed enthusiastic about our lessons and determined to learn English, but after the first few months, she began canceling our meetings, sometimes less than an hour in advance. Eventually the program coordinator got involved and thought that maybe this student just couldn’t handle the lessons and her pregnancy at the same time, so our lessons were suspended, and I was assigned to another student in the meantime. Actually my new student was my old student’s mother.
Unfortunately, the same thing happened again. A student who seemed enthusiastic and determined at the outset was soon canceling our meetings, often on very short notice more often than she was following through. This was really frustrating to me, as I was taking it upon myself to travel to these women’s homes to give them their free lessons. I began to worry that there was something wrong with my approach.
The program coordinator got involved again. It seemed that my new student was often being called on at the last minute to babysit her new grandchild. It was just such a hectic time in the lives of the family that the program coordinator decided to suspend their lessons until the baby grew a little and they could settle down to a regular schedule of meetings.
At that time, I decided to stop tutoring. I was so frustrated with my experiences, and even though I faithfully filled out my tutor report each month, the program was so understaffed that it was months before any action was taken. I kept on planning lessons and rearranging my schedule to accommodate these lessons that more often than not were canceled. Hopefully, at some point, I will find a student who is more dedicated.