Microadventure #30: Volunteering with Manatee Literacy Council (MLC)

Training to be an MLC Volunteer
Manatee Literacy Council (MLC)
Volunteer with MLC to help adults with English conversation skills

I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years. It’s always been one of those “extra-curricular” activities I’ve enjoyed.

For the past few years, however, my volunteer efforts have been a little hit-and-miss. Sometimes, I’ll sign up for something and there are so many volunteers that it ends up I’m really not needed. My last volunteer work before Covid was at an event where my “job” was to show people where the elevator was! And then my Red Cross deployment was much more work than I’d expected.

I finally found a volunteer opportunity at the Manatee Literacy Center that was Goldilocks perfect. Not too easy, not too demanding.. just right!

I’m just about through with the training required to be a tutor and help adults with their English conversation skills. I’ve already met with my “learner,” a delightful young woman from Colombia, as well as my mentor, who has been super-friendly and helpful.

There were quite a few steps in the training process including reading materials, videos, participation in weekly Zoom conversations with students, and a 4-hour in-person training on April 5th.

Over the summer, since I’m heading back to Colorado, I’ll be meeting with my learner and attending other events remotely — it’s nice that that’s now an option, thanks to Covid. And also, by the way, it looks like Zoom has added a bunch of cool new Marketplace apps for virtual teaming! Can’t wait to experiment with those.

I especially like working with someone who has Spanish as their first language. I now realize how difficult it is to become fluent in a second language! As I said in yesterday’s blog post, it takes a lot of practice, especially with speaking and listening! And even though we’re supposed to stick to English during our tutoring sessions, I can’t help but hope I’ll have an opportunity to speak a little Spanish with my learner, too, once we get to know each other better.

After all my work at learning Spanish, it’s interesting to look at it from the other perspective — through the eyes of someone who doesn’t have English as their native language. I see just how difficult English can be, full of irregularities in pronunciation and spelling anomalies.

Even though I’ve only just begun the actual “work” of tutoring, I can see that this opportunity is right up my alley! I love communication, learning about languages, and getting to know the learners, other volunteers, and everyone involved! I’m really excited!

Oh! And I’m just in time to participate in their annual “Be the One” fundraising event on April 26-27.

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