SET Adults Volunteer
I made a New Year's resolution to assist others through language. In addition to having been a Spanish-language student for many years, in 2019, I earned a Master's degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages, TESOL, from Hunter College in New York City. The thought of combining my knowledge of Spanish with that of teaching English was ideal.
Coincidentally, in January, I heard from a friend, Sandra Effron, who has shared my interest in Spanish-language acquisition. Sandra introduced me to SET. The timing, combined with the opportunity to volunteer for this worthy organization, was exactly what I needed.
Sandra paired me with a young woman who herself is a teacher living in Guatemala. I'll call her Maria, a pseudonym. Maria and I have conducted our meetings virtually via WhatsApp. I must say, it is pretty thrilling to connect with a person who is located on another continent.
During each meeting, Maria and I engage in animated conversations commingling English with Spanish, since we each speak a bit of both. My goal is to support her efforts to increase her English-language skills, while I am happy to practice my Spanish simultaneously. Also, my intermittent use of Spanish helps minimize language barriers, while maximizing our conversational ease. The best situation is for Maria to be able to learn in a stress-free environment.
The novelty of a dual-lingual code-switching chat with someone in another country is both rewarding and exciting. One silver lining of the pandemic is that it has served to normalize the concept of the virtual exchange.
The fact is that each time Maria and I share a palpably cheerful dialogue (by the way, initiating the spontaneity of our first lesson: cheer versus chair), we are able to momentarily escape from our COVID confines as we converse, see each other's faces, and just have fun.
Thank goodness a New Year's resolutions and a connection with an old friend has brought me to SET and Maria.