“I have noticed growth in my mentee both in her reading and her persona. My mentee was shy and unsure of her environment in the first session. She quickly became comfortable and showed me her brilliant personality. She had the confidence to tell me her big ideas and important opinions. Her reading developed as well as she initially skipped over the hard words and eventually learned that it was okay to not know some words and together we sounded them out and defined them.”
1) Why did you choose to volunteer with NITEO?
The work that NITEO does is extremely important and close to my heart. Giving children and their families a voice and a safe space during a possibly uncomfortable time of transition is something that NITEO does an excellent job of and I am so lucky to be a part of it. I love working with children and was confident they would brighten my day just as I hoped to brighten theirs. I have always really enjoyed reading and hoped that my love of literature would inspire kids to improve their literacy skills as well.
2) What was your first day like?
I was a little bit nervous on my first day as I was not sure what to expect and was uncertain how well I would be able to communicate with families. My nervousness quickly was replaced by excitement for the semester and a lot of love in my heart for the families I met. Human connection, cooperation, and patience are all you need to form connections and understandings with families.
3) What have been your favourite parts of volunteering as a Reading Mentor?
My favorite parts of being a reading mentor have been watching the mentees (and their families) become more comfortable. Children who were shy and reserved at the beginning are now full of energy and letting their big personalities show! Part of the NITEO reading program includes circle time where we go around the circle and share a bit about ourselves. At the start of the semester, children and their parents were often shy and timid to share, but by the last session, families were speaking with confidence and enthusiasm. Watching this transition and self-assurance build was a really special thing to experience. It was also incredible to see how the parents benefit from this program. While mentors are reading with the children, parents frequently learn from each other and improve their English skills together. NITEO really does positively impact every individual who is involved in their program. It was extraordinary to watch children who had recently moved to Canada and had to learn an entirely new language and be immersed in a completely different culture have the confidence and bravery to read a story in front of a crowd. Forming relationships with the mentees and their families has been the best part of my week every week!
4) Have you noticed any growth/progress in your mentee?
I have noticed growth in my mentee both in her reading and her persona. My mentee was shy and unsure of her environment in the first session. She quickly became comfortable and showed me her brilliant personality. She had the confidence to tell me her big ideas and important opinions. Her reading developed as well as she initially skipped over the hard words and eventually learned that it was okay to not know some words and together we sounded them out and defined them.
5) Are there any memorable moments from the last year?
One of my favourite moments was when my mentee made me an origami puppy with a special message written on it. It fills my heart to see the bonds created in the NITEO reading program and to see that you are making a positive impact on the children. Another memorable moment was when another one of my mentees came into the session really shy and appeared to not understand me. As the day went on she came out of her shell, revealed her big and bright energy, and proved that she understood a lot more than she let on! I enjoyed hearing about my mentee’s week and learning about her success in school both socially and academically. I am so proud of my mentee and really grateful I got the opportunity to be a small part of her journey!
6) Have you learned about any other cultures through this experience?
I have learned about Japanese culture and the challenges of immigrating to Canada through my mentee and her family. I even learned to write my and my mentee’s names in Japanese! I often felt like I was learning and benefitting just as much as my mentee from the program.