No soy maestra – Teaching English, or How to Volunteer in NYC

I’ve never taken education classes. I spend a majority of my time in an office at a computer all day, but one evening a week, for an hour and a half, I am “teacher!” With a dry erase marker in hand, I struggle to explain in Spanish or English to a small group of what an “eyelash” is, or how to ask a question.

I have been volunteering as a tutor in an English Conversation class since August. My students speak Spanish, but wish to learn English or practice what they already know. My students’ eagerness to learn and their dedication is inspiring. I’ve had students who have returned, not just week to week, but from “semester” to “semester,” and have picked up more each time. At the very least, I hope I am giving them a little bit of confidence to go out there and practice speaking English, armed with a few new words and phrases.

One of the first things I did this summer when I moved to the Heights was go to the library to get a library card (and borrow a few books and movies, as we don’t have cable), and browse the bulletin board to see what was going on in my new community. Among posters for events and information was a call for volunteer tutors for an English Conversation program. I was able to meet the coordinator and start volunteering the next week. I got lucky, but if you’re looking for ways to get involved in your community, and beyond, check this list below.

How to find volunteer opportunities in New York City:

  • New York Cares – find volunteer opportunities based on your interests, skills and availability. Required volunteer training is provided.
  • City Meals-on-Wheels – prepare and deliver meals to homebound seniors, some of New York City’s neediest.
  • United Way of New York City – Volunteer – find ways to get involved with United Way
  • NYC Service – search and find opportunities posted by various organizations in the city based on your interests
  • Volunteer with NYC Parks – if you like being outside and want to help out city parks, check this website.
  • Settlement Houses – Get involved with United Neighborhood Houses, and one of the member settlement houses

Of course, the best way is to keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities in your own neighborhood. See how you can give back in ways that are meaningful in your own life and make a direct impact on the people in your community.

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