New Friends


This is the International Institute of New Hampshire. Two years ago, I began volunteering here two nights a week, assisting the teachers in their classes. At first, it seemed that I had nothing in common with the students. They are adults who had come from all over the world, but predominantly Latin America, to live in the United States. Some spoke English reasonably well and others not so much. It makes sense. They came to class, after all, to learn to speak English. Meanwhile, I didn’t speak much of any language other than English. The first days were awkward, but following the lead and direction of Irina and Jenny, the teachers last year, I quickly felt right at home.

After a couple of months, the two nights a week at IINH were the high points of my week. No matter how tired I was when I left my job, as soon as the students arrived, I was full of energy. I recall the last night of class last spring, greeting my new friends who spoke little English and feeling just so amazed at how comfortable I now felt with them.

So how did an exploratory volunteer experience become a new career? Well, the more I worked as a volunteer teaching English, the more I enjoyed it. Part of it was enjoying working with this population. They strike me as genuinely nice people who are so grateful for the opportunities here. I was also intrigued by how one goes about teaching English to another person. Much of my success in my professional career was based on my command of the English language. In addition to volunteering in the classes, I began tutoring an Iraqi man whose physical challenges prevented him from attending classes. As time wore on, I became engrossed in this work and realized that for me volunteering was slowly becoming not enough; I wanted to teach.

24 thoughts on “New Friends

  1. Prior-2001

    how awesome a story – and I think the career callings are definitely also related to our life stages and where we are at different times – like this would not have been the same experience for you you were maybe 19- but your life seasoning and shaping all combined and very inspiring story – 🙂


    So you loved teaching Chris , don’t you?
    I am a teacher as you know but sometimes I feel that this job makes me exhausted and tired!
    I am sure the atmosphere there in US for teachers is better than in any other place of the world !

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      I do love it Soheir. It is the right thing at this point in my life. My old job made me very tired. It was a good job but just not a good fit anymore. This is my passion and fits with this stage of my life. I’m sure teaching can be a challenge sometimes. Cheers!

  3. The Coastal Crone

    Good for you! I too have volunteered to teach English as a second language and found it rewarding. Most of my students were Spanish speaking (my Spanish is limited!) but there were also some who spoke Chinese. I learned from my students also, Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. SyedaFR

    That’s such a wonderful way to step into the job!
    Well, teaching does seem like one impulsive decision to most people, but once you are in those shoes of a teacher and enjoy being in them – however cramped and sore your feet may feel, I mean by all pressures applied on teachers – you really love being one!! 😊😊


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