I have been volunteering at the Lexington Public Library for a few weeks at this point. What fascinates me most about the Lexington Library is how many diverse families participate in the Homework Help Program. The Library has a Spanish-speaking bilingual team which attracts several different families who come from different cultural backgrounds. This intrigues me because 99% of my experiences in life are with English-speakers only.
In the past, when I volunteered at various non-profit organizations, I have had fairly easy experiences and I always knew what to expect. However, the last time I volunteered at the Library, I had an experienced that challenged me in a positive way. There was a little boy who was in need of a bilingual volunteer, but there were none available. I told the coordinator I could try to help the boy because I knew a little Spanish, but I made sure he knew I was not fluent. I attempted to assist him with his homework with a Spanish Translating website opened on my phone. I surprised myself by my ability to carry on a Spanish conversation even though I had some trouble.
The little boy’s frustration was visible when he did not comprehend, and I could see his eyes light up when he understood what I said. This day of volunteering is the day I truly understood the immensity of the problem of the language barrier. I do not know what kind of school program to which he belongs, but I thought that if I – a volunteer who tries my best to be patient and helpful – became frustrated while trying to help the boy, his teachers who supervise multiple kids may be likely give up on him. I felt sorry for the little boy, but I knew that my service to him was vital because that kind of help may not be available to him anywhere else. This challenging experience was particularly stressful, but it helped me realize how valuable our help is, and how much it is needed.