Volunteer Stories: Madeleine

“…getting to witness some of the mentees read for the whole group and the sense of achievement on their faces when they finish has been a definite highlight throughout the program.”

1. Why did you choose to volunteer with NITEO?  

I chose to volunteer with NITEO because I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to complete my Master of Social Work. I feel strongly that I am in a position to give back to my community, and NITEO’s mission statement really stood out to me. Families who have immigrated to Canada enrich our communities and getting to be part of the process of their forming relationships with one another has been such an incredible experience. Oh, and being a book lover myself doesn’t hurt either! 


2. What was your first day like?  

My first day with NITEO had me quite excited to meet the families we would be working with. It was such a rush to see all the families start to filter in and the excitement and high energy that they brought with them! It was such a special experience to hear everyone speak in their first languages as well! 


3. What is your favourite part of volunteering as a Reading Mentor?  

 One of my favourite parts of volunteering with NITEO has been bearing witness to families from different cultures forming relationships and the special type of bonding this cultivates. I have really enjoyed strengthening my relationship with my buddy and his mother throughout the weeks. Lastly, getting to witness some of the mentees read for the whole group and the sense of achievement on their faces when they finish has been a definite highlight throughout the program.  


4. Have you noticed any growth/progress in your mentee?  

I have definitely noticed growth in my mentee! Throughout the weeks, he has come more out of his shell and shown me more of what a neat kid he is. His confidence and competence in reading have improved, and he has become a lot more eager to choose books at the start of the session and begin reading with me as the weeks carry on! 


5. How has the time commitment been? 

The time commitment has been perfectly reasonable. I often find it goes by too quickly and it is getting harder to say goodbye to my mentee and his family each week, knowing the program is coming to an end soon! 


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

Some memorable moments from the past year include watching my mentee put stickers on the reading log representing how many books he has read throughout the week. This is one of my favourite parts of the session because I get to see how proud he is for this, as he should be! Another one definitely includes opening one of my mentees’ prizes with him and playing with it together after our reading session – too fun! 


6. Have you learned anything about other cultures through this experience?  

 I have learned how quickly and genuinely individuals from other cultures form relationships with one another. Family and friends are often something we take for granted. Some of these families have moved to Canada without knowing anyone, so seeing them come each week and strengthen the relationships they have built here is so incredibly profound and allows me to take the time to have gratitude towards my own family and friends.

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