This National Volunteer Month we're taking time to let others know why our great ministry volunteers do what they do and are encouraging others to join them. For more information about how to volunteer at any of the programs we support, check out the information at the bottom of the page.
Meg Walters believes that immigrants and refugees need more support when they arrive in the Twin Cities. Unless you have a dedicated interpreter available always, or are fluent in English, starting a new life in the United States is extremely difficult. Think about all the things you do daily that require English: making a doctor’s appointment, reading road signs to navigate, checking in with your daycare provider about pick-up, and checking out at the grocery store, to name a few. Many organizations in the Twin Cities support non-English speakers, and several offer interpreter services or have multi-language resources, but being able to interact with others in English makes things a lot easier. That’s why Meg volunteers at Learning In Style School.
In 2018 Meg’s daughter, a student at Blake School, partnered with Learning In Style School (LIS) to complete her Senior Project, a multi-media book based on interviews and stories shared from LIS students. Meg had never heard of LIS before her daughter’s project; and after its presentation, she started volunteering. In the beginning she helped staff the Children’s Room (drop-in daycare for the kids of LIS students) and assisted in any of the classes that needed additional help. Currently she tutors students one-on-one, or three-on-one when no one else is available, and loves getting to know the students and watching them excel in their studies.
“I really think every student would benefit from having a one-on-one tutor. If we had enough volunteers to give students that individual attention, I think they would be much more successful,” she says. The students she tutors are not uneducated; many have graduated from upper-level courses in their home countries. They just need to read and write in English in order to apply for a job. With more volunteers, the school could expand its services and tutor students in how to write a resume or cover letter, skills native English speakers oftentimes take for granted.
Students have continued to return to school for in-person classes after Covid forced them to learn virtually. With more students, the need for volunteers increases. Meg hopes LIS students can become independent and develop the skills they need to support themselves and their families. With more volunteers and dedication, her dream seems very feasible.