Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council
September 26, 2011
After relocating to Pittsburgh a few years ago, I tried several volunteer organizations, but none provided me with the training and professional development opportunites like that of the Greater Pittsburgh LIteracy Council. I have been an ESL (English as a second language) adult tutor with GPLC for over a year and my experience has been personally very rewarding. Volunteers are treated as an important part of the organization and we are reminded of that through monthly meetings, workshops, and continuing professional development opportunities. You do not need to be an expert in English grammar to be a tutor. Training just takes 12 hours of your time and is spread out over 4 days at convenient locations. There is also no expense to the volunteer other than their own transportation to the classes. After training, volunteers are matched with students and then meet with them 4 hours a week at a place and time mutually agreed upon. Each student is evaluted by a staff member of the organization and then given a "prescription" for achieving their goals to become more skilled at conversation, reading, and writing. We are given textbooks to use with our students, but we are also encouraged to introduce our students to everyday American culture--and that is where it is especially fun. Currently, I have a Rwandan and an Italian student. I think I learn as much from them as they do from me. In the past year, besides helping them improve their language skills, I have seen them through driver's license tests, attended the wedding of one, helped another with job applications and interviews, and celebrated when they landed their first American jobs. They are now looking forward to their next goals and, eventually, becoming American citizens.
For me, personally, being part of their progress has been a wonderful experience. They are not just my students, they have become my friends. Through them I have developed an even deeper appreciation of my country and I look forward to the day when I watch them sworn in as new citizens of the United States.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in my students' successes and progress in adapting to American life and culture. They have expressed to me many times how helpful our meetings are to them. For four hours a week they have the chance to make conversation with someone who listens to them, teaches them, and encourages them.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
At this time, I really don't have any suggestions. I am impressed with the organization as a whole. It seems well-organized and is responsive to both the tutors and students.
Volunteer & I am an adult English as a second language tutor.