By Celeste Tovar, 2020-2021 Literacy First Tutor
My favorite aspect of my service experience has been learning how to tutor and teach from trained and experienced educators. This experience awakened something in me that made me realize I want to pursue a career in education and that I am capable of doing so. Before serving, I felt so lost in life, not being able to think of any career that would both make me happy and align with my beliefs and morals. I am lucky to have discovered the joy that comes with teaching and to have realized it is a good path for me. Had I not accepted my position with Literacy First, I would’ve most likely been unable to find another job and quarantine would be an even lonelier experience. I’ve been quarantining since March 2020, so aside from my two roommates, the majority of my daily human interactions come from my students! As funny as that sounds, I really believe they are such great company. I love hearing their thoughts, ideas, dreams, or even about what they ate for breakfast. I also appreciate the interactions I get to have with their parents and don’t mind going over on time during calls to talk to parents about how well their child is reading or ask about other ways I can support them. Even though I’ve never met in person 99% of the people I work with (including AmeriCorps members, teachers, students, and parents), I think the sense of community is just as strong as it would’ve been in an in-person environment, if not stronger. Being able to help children experience the joy of reading AND earning their trust throughout it all has been such a privilege; and I think joining Literacy First has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
I am definitely open to returning and serving another year with AmeriCorps and Literacy First in the future. Right now, it is not in my plans, but you never know what will happen! I’ve loved the experience so far and enjoy working with children and seeing how excited they feel when they notice the progress they’ve made. The education award could also influence whether I come back in the future or not. Regardless of what happens, I am grateful to have experienced this year and couldn’t imagine doing anything else during my gap year (especially in a pandemic).
As a disabled person with a mobility impairment and a weakened immune system, I was very happy to come across this opportunity and even happier when I found out we’d be remote for the entire year. Before finding this position, I was very worried about finding a job and how I would be able to afford being on my own during my gap year. My mobile disability makes it to where I wouldn’t be able to get a job at a fast food place or grocery or retail store. Being able to serve from home, despite its negatives, has been a privileged experience. I hope to one day be able to experience teaching in person, but virtual teaching has been more fulfilling than I could have imagined.