Students and teachers at the Center for New Americans rely on the help and support of classroom volunteers. When our classes went online last spring, we had to find innovative ways to bring the volunteers back into the classroom. Volunteers that were used to the traditional classroom have now become efficient and comfortable with the virtual online classroom.
This is the first in a series of three interviews. Stayed tuned in the coming weeks to hear more about volunteering via Zoom.
This week I talked with Volunteer Carole. She has been a volunteer since the fall of 2018.
First, how did you hear about the Center for New Americans?
I always enjoyed working with the refugee population when I was at Avera. I knew some of them were enrolled in classes and a friend of mine told me she was volunteering as a classroom assistant. I was looking for things to do in my retirement and it was a perfect fit.
Why did you want to get involved?
I know learning the English language is the first step to their success and path to citizenship. I want to help in any way I can.
What are some of your favorite memories from working with a student/in class?
My favorite memories are seeing students who “get it” and are so proud and seeing them move up in classes! There were a lot of smiles and laughter when we met in person – they really support each other. I really enjoy talking with students one-on-one about their families and lives. Our community is so enriched by their presence!
How has Covid changed the way you volunteer and how are you adapting?
I have been volunteering through Zoom since the fall. I wasn’t sure how it would work but I like it a lot! I love the Zoom breakout sessions and working with smaller numbers. I really like that their names show up on the screen, because it’s so hard for me to remember names sometimes, and I like to be called by my name. I’ll enjoy being back in person but am happy that students can still participate.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at CNA?
I would encourage anyone to volunteer! I’ve gained a new appreciation for all the students have to go through to obtain citizenship. The students are so appreciative, and the teachers make it easy for volunteers to feel useful.
Want to be a classroom volunteer?
Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103