Volunteering at Mid-State Literacy Council is a nice break during the week for Nicole, a Penn State senior majoring in Immunology and Infectious Disease. She describes it as “beneficial” and “a good use of her time.” Volunteers are a vital part of the team at Mid-State Literacy Council, and they are given the opportunity to work one-on-one with students to provide English as a Second Language and basic literacy instruction. Nicole loves working with her student, an ESL learner from Central America, who is very interactive and willing to put in the work. In their weekly meetings, the pair work on reading and comprehension skills and develop life skills that are critical for living in the United States. In fact, her student was recently hired, making it even more urgent to improve her ability to understand and speak the language fluently.
Nicole first heard about Mid-State when Amy Wilson, Executive Director, spoke to Nicole’s Biobehavioral Health class. Her professor offered incentives for those who were willing to volunteer at Mid-State, but even after Nicole’s class ended, she continued to volunteer her time to help the students at Mid-State. Now in her second semester of service to the agency, Nicole describes Mid-State as a resource that excels in providing support to the community. Located right in downtown State College, it’s easily accessible to community members. Nicole also appreciates the fact that tutors are provided with appropriate and relevant material. Aside from offering literacy skills, Mid-State makes the students feel welcome and offers opportunities for them to build connections with other people in the community. Nicole attended a potluck lunch held there this past spring, and she said it was inspiring to see all the students come together and contribute a part of their culture.
Working at Mid-State has taught Nicole to be open to trying new things. She was skeptical when she first started, as this was a completely new experience for her. Volunteering ended up being a great and rewarding use of her time, and it gave her the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures. Nicole wants those who are thinking of becoming a tutor to not be worried if they have never done something like this before. You don’t have to be an education major to be a tutor. You can help more than you know, and not only will you be providing educational assistance, but learning valuable characteristics from the students, like having the courage to come to a new country and learn a new language – or perhaps, in Nicole’s case, the courage to teach it.