Volunteering – choosing to focus on the positive


Whanganui writer and English Language Partners’ ESOL home tutor Rachel Rose was finding little to be cheerful about as 2018 wound down, with a cascade of bad news on local and international fronts. She dug deep to remember the things and people that had inspired her during the year and that included the friendship that’s blossomed with JJ Kim, her English language learner.

It matters what we choose to pay attention to.

The end of 2018 was a descent into year-end like no other. It felt like an avalanche of news so gruesome it was hard to believe it was happening. The search for relief is instinctive – I needed to reflect on people who have been a source of inspiration.

A long-term commitment this past year has been my Tuesday evening meetings with a delightful man I now consider a friend. We were paired up by English Language Partners, headed by the indefatigable Jane Blinkhorne, and it’s been a privilege to volunteer to help my friend with his English.

As I’ve slowly learned more about him and his family and his reasons for coming to New Zealand, I’ve gained fresh insight into many things, starting with what a baffling language English is.

I have a new appreciation for just how challenging it is to emigrate, to leave behind a culture and language that is so different from ours. Everyday things I completely take for granted can be so daunting to someone still learning English.

My friend works very hard and long hours, and he’s a devoted father and husband. He and his wife fit in formal ESOL classes and meetings with their tutors, plus go to church and put loads of energy into their kids.

They have given up so much to come here, motivated in large part by wanting a different kind of life for their children. It’s humbling and inspiring and I value all that I am learning from our exchanges.

Like to volunteer to help a new Kiwi settle into your community? Get in touch with your closest centre.

Read the full column published in The Whanganui Chronicle

More of Rachel Rose’s writing can be found here; www.facebook.com/rachelrose.writer

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Volunteer ESOL Home Tutoring

  • Help former refugees and migrants learn English
  • Indepth training course provided
  • Visit learners in their own homes
  • 1-2 hours per week
  • Learn about other cultures
  • Make new friends
  • Give back and make NZ a better place!
  • In all centres
  • Find out more

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