For individuals who want to make a difference or "give back", volunteering has given opportunities to make a direct, immediate, and positive impact on the lives of people in need. The evidence is overwhelming that community volunteers have been effective in providing needed services that the government cannot afford to offer, and volunteers have reaped the rewards of building personal relationships with those they serve.
They take precious time away from their families, their recreation, their hobbies, their fitness programs, their “me” time to help give others the gift of English communication. They teach survival English skills, making an immediate and lasting impact on individuals, their families, their employers and their communities.
They work for IBM, Vanguard, GE, SAP, Verizon and others. They own their own businesses. They are retired. They are students themselves. VEP tutors work in many different fields including marketing, social work, childcare, and computer technology. They come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and range in age from 18 to 80. 40 to 50% of our tutor student pairs work together for longer than the requested one year. Happily, students and tutors many times become very good friends and remain in each others lives long after the tutor-student relationship is outgrown.
Here are some examples of how VEP tutors have called upon their creativity to extend their students’ experiences with English and American culture beyond the textbook:
They take their student to a play so that language can be experienced in a new and interesting setting.
They take their student into a city to visit the aquarium, take a boat ride, and marvel at the view from the tallest building’s observatory.
They take their student to a museum with an audio tour to work on listening skills.
They bake a birthday cake together or a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving so the student can experience, first hand, an American tradition.
They ride public transportation with their student and teach them how to become more independent.
They call their students regularly to build their confidence with the phone skills needed to arrange healthcare appointments or to succeed in the workplace.
They read newspaper articles together so that the student feels a sense of community while improving reading skills.
They work with their students on resumes and interviewing skills that help the students to become employed and provide for their families.
They go to an employer and find out what language skills workers need there and then work with their student until the company hires that student.
They e-mail, text, and Skype in order to stay connected, help the student build writing skills, and build confidence in using technology.