April 24, 2017
Written By Les Miller, Tutor
For most of my corporate life I cobbled words together for other people to read, and sometimes, speak. Trying to convey an idea – effectively and economically – encouraged me to find the best word or words to make the point of the message. This month, I searched for a word that would best describe my feelings about “My Ladies,” – my students – and how I feel about them.
“Pride” is a good candidate. I am proud of each of “My Ladies” as they study and practice for their citizenship interview. It’s hard work. There is an awful lot to remember. And they’re doing this in a language not their own – and English is not among the easiest in the world to learn. They’re learning about their new country while working one or more jobs, rearing children, keeping house and smiling at “Teacher’s” tired old jokes.
Right along pride is “admiration” which is defined as respect and warm approval. I certainly admire “My Ladies” for the same reason I feel a sense of pride in them. But there is more than admiration. These students hold each other in mutual respect and warm approval. They encourage each other to succeed. They coach each other when one of them stumbles. They call each other before an interview with a word or two of encouragement. They have a common goal and they admire each other’s grit and determination. They celebrate each other’s success. And in their own way, the students become teachers – to their children and to their families and beyond. Is this “pay it forward?” Is it a sense of responsibility? Yes!
Newsweek (remember Newsweek?) gave the U.S. Citizenship Test to 1,000 Americans and 38 percent failed. Twenty-nine percent couldn’t even name the vice president! When asked on what year 9/11 took place, 30% of Americans were unable to answer the question correctly, even as few as five years after the attack. “My Ladies” know the answers!
I’m always “impressed” by the staff of Mercy Learning Center. Impressed by their skills and dedication to the student body. They continually demonstrate that they care about each individual student. Their focus is on the well-being of the students and their families – in school and out-of-school. How can I make it easier? More convenient? Fit your schedule? What do you need in order to…?
Now, what’s in it for me? When I was much younger, I used to run in the morning and I remember getting something called a “runner’s high.” It happens when endorphins hit the brain and there is a sense of being “high.” I recently read that there is a similar experience called a “helper’s high.” There are rewards when someone tries to do good for someone else.
I’m not sure about my role as a “tutor,” but I do know my role as a “facilitator.” I don’t do the work. I help. “My Ladies” do the work. They study. They memorize. They have the interview and respond to the questions. I get my “inspiration” from them. At best, I supply “encouragement.” There is such joy in witnessing their constant improvement – gaining confidence week by week.
I am just one of many tutors and teachers at Mercy Learning Center. And, I’m glad to be a part of a wonderful organization. So – pride, admiration, impressed, inspiration, encouragement? Yes indeed!