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Volunteer Stories

VMLC students remind me in a fresh new way that I am only two generations removed from being an immigrant myself. I remember my grandfather relating his struggles to learn English, and how terrifying it was for him to be a boy of only 15, alone in a strange country. I come to VMLC every week with a feeling of admiration for the courage of these students in their quest to better themselves, and leave with a profound gratitude to the young boy who changed the course of our family’s path by his own courage. Working at VMLC gives me a chance to repay him in some small measure.

Linda Robins, First Semester Volunteer Teacher, Level 1C, West Dallas

 

The students enter the classroom with smiles on their faces; they are happy and serious about wanting to learn, very cooperative when called upon to participate. They are very respectful to us volunteers. These students are fun and they are funny. It’s amazing what I am learning from them as well. Not just one, but each and every one of the students in my class is exceptional. The students have done their work ahead of time and they are prepared for class. They always leave the classroom with a smile and say “thank you!” These students have restored my self-worth.

Fran Schneider, Volunteer Teacher, Level 1C, West Dallas

 

The most memorable interaction for me so far came several years back when the students were filling out an information sheet about themselves. One question was “What do you like about Dallas?” One student’s response was “Dallas has no war.” We cannot even begin to imagine what some of these immigrants have experienced before they are fortunate enough to end up sitting in an English class at VMLC.

Fran Wallace, Volunteer Teacher 7 years, Level 1C, Vickery Meadow

 

I sat down with one of my students who looked really tired. I had noticed that she always sat separately from the younger women in the class. My student told me that she has a job working all night as part of a cleaning crew; she comes home in the morning and gets her son off to school. She then cooks and cleans house, then comes to my class in the afternoon. I wondered if I would have the energy or determination to work that hard and also try to learn a foreign language.

Linda Sikes, Volunteer Teacher 1 1/2 years, Level 1C, West Dallas

 

Over the years I have seen my students show compassion and generosity, but one story really stands out. I had a student from Sierra Leone where there was a brutal civil war. He and his family had fled to a remote refugee camp to keep from being killed and later made it to the United States. When he arrived, US immigration handed him a book about America, but he wasn’t able to read it at the time. After coming to VMLC, he thanked me with tears in his eyes (and my eyes also) for all that VMLC had done for him. He explained that VMLC also handed him a book his first day in class, and with this book VMLC had taught him to read and speak English. He could now read the book given to him about America. He has a job and supports his family. But more importantly, he is grateful that his wife and children are now safe in this country.

Curtis Swinson, Volunteer Teacher 12 years, Level 1C, Vickery Meadow

 

The VMLC students inspire me because of their dedication and perseverance. I have had students who work multiple jobs, sometimes even working all night, before coming to morning class. They always make such an effort to succeed and are always appreciative of our time as teachers.

Bonnie Crook, Volunteer Teacher 3 1/2 years Level 3, Vickery Meadow

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