By Cheryl Butterfield
Two days a week I tutor English as a second language to immigrants at Literacy Services of Wisconsin. It has possibly been the most rewarding experience of my life. The students provide the interest, intelligence, and drive that they need to succeed, while I provide that little lift to overcome the barriers they confront.
At Literacy Services we provide a safe and welcoming space for learning. The faces are friendly and everyone is willing to help. For me, tutoring has been much more than just teaching English. My personal experience includes helping a recent immigrant navigate the medical system during her first pregnancy, helping a mother improve communication with her son’s teachers and helping a student research the credential requirements needed for advancement in her occupation. Things are only possible in the context of a continuing relationship of trust.
On the civic front, I have helped one student pass her citizenship test. I have provided encouragement to another who has been a citizen for several years, but had never registered and voted until this last election. More than teaching English, I have been a cheerleader, helping to build the confidence that enables immigrants to use their own voices.
Note: We are heartened to share this article from Cheryl Butterfield. There are multiple ways in Milwaukee to meet and personally assist our immigrant community members. One goal of the Sanctuary Discernment Team/Immigration Issues Action Group is to bring ideas forward of alternative options for personal action. There are many ways to meet individual talents, interests, life schedules and comfort levels in the work of Immigration Action! Contact the Immigration Issues Action Group representative during coffee hour at the Social Justice Table every Sunday.