October 1-5 is National Tutoring Week, where education organizations across the country recognize those who help teach learners of all ages. Indy Reads classrooms are built around the support of volunteer tutors, and one of the ways we’ll be celebrating our volunteers this week with a series of volunteer spotlights.
Gage is a new Indy Reads tutor in our ELL class at the Morales Group. He’s a writer who is focused on building strong communities and fostering opportunities for people to share their stories. Here’s how he approaches his service as a volunteer tutor:
Tell me why you chose to volunteer with Indy Reads.
I picked Indy Reads and I picked ELL specifically because English, as a writer, and a journalist, and a lover of books and stories, English has been the language that’s connected me to all of that. The first prong of my interest in ELL is the writing stories, books, that sort of thing.
And the second prong is that my guess is the folks who came to these classes were in various ways saying, “I want to be part of your community. I want to be your neighbor. I want to be part of your family. I’m willing to come and put all this effort in, please meet me halfway and share with me the gifts you’ve been given.” Community means a lot to me because so much that’s gone well in my life has come as a positive consequence of community, so I value it very strongly.
How long have you volunteered with us?
Only three months, if that.
Could you tell me three things that you enjoy about working with our students?
Their enthusiasm, their resilience, and just the kind of intrinsic joy of learning.
What are some things that students have taught you in the classroom?
The value I think we all know, but maybe lose connection to, of just getting out of your house and away from in front of a screen. Get off the internet, get out of your chair, go meet another human being. Go look them in the eye, pick their brain, and listen to what they have to say and be listened to.
When you talk about Indy Reads with others, what do you say?
Mostly I talk about the students. They recharge my batteries. I’m an extrovert big time, so being around new people, meeting new people, listening to them, hearing their stories. Also, I talk about my very sincere appreciation for providing this service because, especially now in our current moment, I can’t imagine how isolating and frightening it might be to have unfriendly sentiments coming at you with such frequency across the airwaves.
What do you do outside of Indy Reads?
I very recently was selected as a Public Ally for Public Allies Indianapolis. That means I’m an AmeriCorps member. I serve with a nonprofit called the Domestic Violence Network. And I also am involved in a capacity building project in the Far Eastside neighborhoods of Indianapolis.
Can you tell me something interesting about yourself?
I’m writing a book! It’s about several generations of a family and it covers a little more than 100 years. I’m almost done with the first draft.