“What I did was so little…”

I’m a Wheaton College student, studying for a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program. It’s been almost a month since I finished my practicum at People’s Resource Center DuPage (PRC) with my mentoring teacher. However, it feels like yesterday.

The first time I visited PRC was last winter. My professor suggested a to visit PRC, which is located near our campus. At that time, I felt very touched by what PRC is dedicated to doing. One of their values is “Help your neighbors.” They give services according to people’s statement of need. I learned that PRC has less than 40 employees but more than 2000 volunteers to serve approximately 30,000 people each year.

The most impressive part of PRC for me was the artworks! The PRC’s building is decorated by paintings and artworks in the halls and the classrooms. Many of the works are very delicate and professional. We can see from the multicultural artworks that people coming here are from different countries in the world. In another classroom, an English class was being taught by a professor from the College of DuPage. He invited us to help him with class. I sensed from the friendly atmosphere of the class, the keenness and willingness of the students to learn English well.

I really hoped that I could have more chance to get to know these great people: adorable volunteers, hardworking staff, and students from developing countries–like me, I am from China–who were forced to leave their countries and now strive to live in America.

When my professor asked me if I would love to do my practicum at PRC, I agreed excitedly.

My mentor teacher is a beautiful and passionate lady. I feel I learned much more from her than what I learned from the textbooks about being a professional ELL teacher. After observing twice in her class, I wrote an email asking her some questions about the backgrounds of the students, the challenges she faced, and how she coped with different situations that happen in class.

Much beyond my expectation, she replied to each question with detailed answers. She is very compassionate to these students who went through many difficulties in their home countries and struggle to live here in the U.S. with few to none families or relatives around, and with decaying health conditions because of aging. She told me that some students come after a night’s work in the factory, still eager to learn English. One reason the students are here to learn English, and care so passionately, is because they need English for working and living, and the other reason is that they really love this community where they feel cared, loved, and belonged to.

I’m so grateful for the chance to spend two months in PRC to observe this class, help with group activities, and teach several times on my own.

After my last class at PRC, a student said to me very sincerely, “Thank you, teacher.” I couldn’t help bursting into tears.

I felt that what I did was so little but what I gained from the people here is of life-long value and inspiration.

 

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