“My favorite part about being a Reading Mentor is undoubtedly the diverse and warm community that I get to be a part of. Meeting new people from various corners of the world and learning about their culture and language was truly an enriching experience.“
1) Why did you choose to volunteer with NITEO?
Volunteering with NITEO was one of the highlights of my year. Being new to Canada (as an International Student at UBCO), I chose to volunteer with NITEO to get more involved in the community and meet new people. More importantly, NITEO’s mission deeply resonated with me because my journey of learning English also started with reading books, thus I loved the opportunity to help children and families in similar circumstances develop literacy skills.
2) What was your first day like?
The first day of volunteering made me a bit nervous, but that feeling quickly transformed into excitement when I met the family I’d be helping as they were so friendly and welcoming. I also felt really lucky because the director and other mentors have been incredibly supportive throughout this journey, making me feel more confident in my role.
3) What have been your favourite parts of volunteering as a Reading Mentor?
My favourite part about being a Reading Mentor is undoubtedly the diverse and warm community that I get to be a part of. Meeting new people from various corners of the world and learning about their culture and language was truly an enriching experience.
4) Have you noticed any growth/progress in your mentee?
Initially, my mentee seemed a bit shy and reluctant to speak English. However, after a couple of sessions, I began noticing a shift in her confidence as she became more comfortable speaking English with me and during circle time. What stood out the most was her growing engagement with the books we read together. It was so heartening to see her start to actively participate with and learn from the stories.
5) How has the time commitment been?
Initially, I was worried about the time commitment required for volunteering, especially during exam season. However, the volunteering time and hours seamlessly fit into my schedule and I found that the sessions always flew by because of the fun we are having.
6) Are there any memorable moments from the past year?
Playing alphabet games with my mentee has been one of my most memorable moments. Witnessing my mentee’s competitiveness and her infectious smile while playing and learning through these games was incredibly fun and such an forgettable way to end our sessions each week.
7) Have you learned anything about other cultures through this experience?
Thanks to NITEO, I’ve not only learned about different cultures but also picked up some basic words in both Spanish and Arabic as well. In exchange, I also taught them some Chinese and parts of my culture too. Engaging with my mentees in their languages whenever possible has been a rewarding experience as I felt it fostered a deeper connection and understanding, bringing us closer in our shared journey of learning and growth.