The spirit of teaching has showed me wondrous undertakings that I myself have never expected. People use to pronounce my name as “George” ever since I was a kid back home but when I got to my volunteer site at Next Step Public Charter School, everyone started pronouncing the Spanish name “Jorge” which as a matter of fact is my real name, Jorge Bagaipo. As I venture my interest in learning about the Spanish culture specifically with Latin Americans for my Cross-Cultural Communications class I found significant lessons as I tutor these young-adult immigrants in English as their second language.
As I first started in Next Step, I was particularly confused about what to do. I got lost for a minute and was unsure of what I got into. But the other volunteers and my site supervisor made me feel very welcome and took away all my doubts. Meeting the students, at first, I was timid but I noticed on their faces that they were also unsure of what to say. Ms. Bates, a very energetic and fun teacher, gives us handouts of activities that we are supposed to do for the rest of the evening. Most are dialogues of everyday conversations in English so I help the students understand what each phrase meant and also help them with their pronunciation. I also get to test my Spanish skills by translating some of the words they cannot fully comprehend.
When I registered for CSLP I had a lot of expectations and goals. I was really excited to teach young adults close to my age on how to speak English more fluently and that they were going to learn a lot from me. But I failed to foresee what this experience is all about. I think I am the one who’s learning a lot here. Seeing their determination to learn really inspires me to do my job better not just in my volunteer work but also in my studies. It is surprising that no matter how hard it is for them sometimes, knowing that after their day job they have to stay until 9 pm just to learn, they never told me to quit. I am really impressed after hearing their stories of origin and the things they have been through.
This whole experience made me realize a lot of things. I used to think that being an immigrant here classifies me as someone who doesn’t belong to the community and I have a different “culture” but that’s not exactly true. It may be self-evident that I am different but being different made me unique. I used my experience as a foreigner to relate to my students and showing them that no race nor color can stop us in learning anything. I hope my work extends to my students’ community and that they can teach the less privileged as well and continue to inspire others as they have inspired me.