Volunteer Stories: Neha

“It really showed how an encouraging and non-judgmental environment can help someone grow.”

1. Why did you choose to volunteer with NITEO?

I came across NITEO when I was searching for volunteer opportunities and this organization immediately stuck out to me! The family reading program combined my interest in education, my love for reading, and my passion to have an impact on the lives of others. I come from a Punjabi family who primarily speaks Punjabi at home, so I understood the struggle of immigrant parents and children who were having trouble with speaking, reading, and communicating in a whole new language. I wanted to make these families feel welcome and wanted to be a part of an organization that encouraged and supported their efforts no matter their literacy background. I was also interested in helping NITEO send books to Africa so children there would have access to all the amazing books that we have access to! 


2.  What was your first day like? Were you nervous/excited/etc? 

I was definitely very excited and nervous on my first day! I didn’t know if the families would like me, if we would be able to connect, or how to be the best mentor. But I was also very excited to play a small role in these families’ literacy journey and to learn all about them. 


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

 My favorite parts were definitely seeing how confident both the parents and children became over time. In the beginning, my mentee doubted their reading abilities and the parents would also not speak much, but by the end of the program my mentee was becoming more confident in their reading abilities, reading TONS at home, and the parents were asking a lot more questions. It really showed how an encouraging and non-judgmental environment can help someone grow.


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

The whole experience was definitely memorable but watching the kids volunteer to read in front of everyone during the reading circle was a highlight!

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