Volunteer Stories: Jennifer

“NITEO has allowed me to grow as a person and I’ve really enjoyed working alongside newcomer families and hope to continue working within this community.”

1. Why did you choose to volunteer with NITEO?

When I was initially searching for a volunteer program last year, I was having difficulty in finding something that aligned with both my goals and was an organization that focused on the health and development of children of all cultures. NITEO is perfectly situated with my views of diversity among our population and focuses on the children of the community, which I strongly stand behind. 

2. What was your first day like?

The first day working with my assigned family was honestly pretty nerve-racking. I wasn’t really sure how to even approach difficulties in reading among different populations. My worries, though, were quickly diminished when I met the family and made connections, especially with the young girl I was working with. I saw how much she enjoyed the program and was always excited for her to tell me about her week (if she could remember).  

3. What have been your favorite parts of volunteering as Reading Mentor?

Some of my favorite parts of being a Reading Mentor were watching the progression and seeing how proud they were of themselves when they accomplished a challenging word or sentence. I consider myself a huge bookworm so seeing a child excited instead of frustrated when the books came out was heartwarming.  

4. What have you learned as a result of your volunteer experience? 

In my degree, we have focused expansively on the effects of culture on a variety of different issues, such as development, health, and family systems for example, but putting this knowledge into practice and seeing it first-hand has really allowed me to build on my perspective of different cultures and communities, specifically how much language barriers can affect a variety of things such as education and reading. NITEO has allowed me to grow as a person and I’ve really enjoyed working alongside newcomer families and hope to continue working within this community.

5. Are there any memorable moments from the past year?

 One of the days we were playing word games; the goal of the game was to get the most points by putting as many words together as possible with the sounds/letters provided; the girl I was working with beat me in the game and destroyed my score, she had the largest little grin about it afterwards.  Another really memorable moment for me was actually with the mother of the family; we were having a conversation when she told me that she had just gotten her citizenship, I could clearly see the pride of this accomplishment on her face, and I became overjoyed and proud, I could see how much it meant for her.

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