Mission: Literacy Council of Sarasota

We’re certified

The hubs and I completed 12 hours of training and are now certified ESOL (English as a second language) tutors! The training sessions were sort of long, but completely invaluable. We were encouraged to ask questions and practice communication techniques in small groups. We were shown materials specifically designed to prep us for our journey through the world of adult literacy.

What a wonderful sense of accomplishment; we now have the tools to volunteer for an organization with a mission we support and value.

I must timidly admit that at this point in the journey, I am terrified. We are ESOL certified, but what does that mean? I don’t know if I will be a good tutor and I wonder if what I bring to the table will be relevant to the learner. I am not a teacher, but I love to share my knowledge with people…I have always been drawn to the practice of teaching because to me it feels like giving. In past working environments, I have had to provide instruction to colleagues, but surely, this was going to be different. What am I getting myself into?

My learner

I was very intrigued by the description of this Colombian woman in her 40’s. She worked as a makeup artist for television and film in her native country, but when she lost her job due to cut-backs, she decided to seek a better career opportunity and life in America. She has been in the country for 10 years now and is working as a housekeeper in an assisted living home, not her dream job, by any means.

The challenge

This learner feels inadequate and uncomfortable in attempting to communicate makeup application and beauty enhancement techniques in an English-speaking environment. She fervently wants to pursue her chosen career in the aesthetics industry.

Not so foreign to me

I feel for her! I have been there. I studied the Spanish language for years and even student taught with my foreign language professor during my internship in high school. But, that’s certainly not comparable to being completely submerged and surrounded by foreign speakers.

When I went to Mexico with a friend I had met through our foreign exchange program, I was intimidated and too shy to speak in Spanish, afraid that I would make mistakes and look foolish in front of the native speakers. I kept silent the whole trip!

Luck

I will do my best to help my learner with the skills that are most important to her. My background is in marketing in the makeup industry (serendipity). This should be a true test of my self-confidence and patience. Wish me luck!

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Tutor For The Literacy Council?

One warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in December, my hubby Kevin and I went to the downtown Sarasota farmer’s market. They have the freshest in local produce, fish, delicate tea and robust coffees, plants, olive oils and handmade baby toys and clothes, to name a few things. The market stretches through the Whole Foods Centre on Main and Lemon Ave. and is the delightful highlight of our weekend.

This particular Saturday, there was an information booth for the Literacy Council of Sarasota (LCS). I walked by and asked the man at the booth if there was a need for volunteers. His smile widened. “Always,” he said, and he handed me some paperwork.

Kev and I had been aiming to volunteer in some capacity in Florida, and this sounded just right.

Our first meeting was at the beginning of the month. It was mainly an informational session: about LCS, what they offer to the community, how we can help and how desperately they need volunteers. We met Marilyn, Karen and Kathy, the ladies who would be training us. They are wonderful people; driven by the desire to empower individuals to communicate more effectively.

We signed up! I think this is going to be a great experience for both of us. More to come…