I went into my experience volunteering with the Mid-State Literacy Council with the sole expectation that I would be teaching the students; however, these individuals taught me just as much as I taught them, and that is something that I will cherish now and bring with me in my future endeavors, as well.  I decided to join the Mid-State Literacy Council this past year in hopes of making a difference in the students’ lives regarding their confidence in their own health literacy. As an aspiring physician, I am extremely passionate about the concept of health literacy, and I had the honor of teaching a class revolving around learning English for Doctor’s Visits. Whether you are from China, Russia, America, or anywhere else in the world, health is always a priority and a concern, and it is extremely pertinent to understand how to engage in conversations about health so as to ensure the best quality of life possible.

A lack of health literacy can potentially keep individuals from reaching their fullest potential regarding their well-being, and, during my time as a volunteer/teacher, my main goal was to help my students reach this potential through enhancing their understanding of health and interactions regarding their health. These students had to navigate an entirely new life in a foreign place with a different culture, language, and a variety of people, which undoubtedly was frustrating and frightening! Being a part of their journey in America by assisting them in their comprehension of health, doctor’s visits, and American culture overall was an absolutely incredible experience that I will never forget, and I was so ecstatic to have the opportunity to share my passions of health, human development, and medicine with my students.

In this class, I was able to teach the students about important health-related topics, such as mental health, making doctor’s appointments, disease spotlights, prevention strategies, healthy lifestyles, healthcare, and more. Watching them engage with the lesson material and apply it to their own lives opened my eyes to how beautiful the process of learning truly is, as well as how passionate and dedicated the students truly are. My students were such an inspiration to me because they were always so eager to learn and truly apply the material to their own lives, and I was always so excited to converse with them about their lives in their home countries (and here in America!) that have shaped them into the people they are today.

I will always keep this experience near to my heart, and I will forever remember all that I learned from my time volunteering with the Mid-State Literacy Council. I will use my new knowledge gained from my students to become the best physician that I can be, and I am making a promise here and now to always fight for and encourage health literacy and accessibility for all people! I am so honored to have had the chance to help these students and to be a part of their stories that they will continue to write here in America.

-Destiny Marino 

Junior at Penn State majoring in Biobehavioral Health with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. From Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania. Hopes to be a physician in the future; specifically a pediatrician!  

Mid-State Literacy Council depends on the support of our community.