by Deb Calderon
Every week, Marian meets Rita for over an hour. Few would guess these two women know each other, much less that their project is making a difference in both lives.
Marian is an adult learner in Powell River, Rita her volunteer tutor, in the CALL program launched last November (Community Adult Literacy & Learning). They get right down to work in a private office at the Community Resource Centre on Joyce Avenue. Marian wants to read well enough to help her kids with their homework. She’s making great progress.
There’s been a Volunteer Tutoring program at Vancouver Island University for years. Last year the CALL program was initiated to let tutors and learners work out in the community as well. Placing the program in community settings, where more people feel comfortable, would make the program more accessible.
Rita signed up for the Volunteer Adult Literacy Tutor (VALT) training course held at VIU last year. VALT and CALL together train all the volunteers. Some might end up tutoring at VIU; some in the community. (Although VIU and CALL collaborate, CALL is administered by a non-profit society.)
At first, Rita was unsure about her ability to help another adult learn a new skill. After all, she wasn’t a teacher. All she could offer was a love of reading and belief in life-long learning.
“I had some reservations at first, but in taking the course, I found that tutoring isn’t teaching; it’s sharing life experiences and interests in support of another adult learner who wants to overcome a literacy barrier.”
Volunteers are the backbone of tutoring programs. The main requirements are comfort with reading English and a desire to help another adult. Powell River’s tutors are a creative bunch, coming up with games, exercises, activities and field trips customised to their learners. Read more »