Ching serves as a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Program at The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz. Twice a week she works with a student at the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Each session she signs in at the jail, passes through security where her materials are inspected, and then is escorted by a guard to her to a contact room. The room is stark with windows that face into the hallway for outside observation, a heavy door with call buttons alongside, pale yellow walls, overhead fluorescent lights, linoleum tiled floors, a folding table, and plastic chairs. The guard locks the door behind her and then the learning unfolds. She sets to work with her student for next two hours.
Her current student’s first language is Spanish. For the past year, he has been diligently studying to make English his second. At the age of ten, his father took him out of school and put him to work so he could help support their family of 8. Now as an adult, he is striving to learn basic language and math skills, pronunciation, spelling, and grammatical structure. This is just a small sampling of the many hurdles he faces in organizing and understanding thought, feelings, and meaning so he can interact in an English speaking world more successfully.
When asked what motivates her to volunteer each week she states, “I admire his strong work ethic and courage to remake his life. My challenge is to find the path to his learning, unfettered by his history or circumstances.”
Ching is one of more than 200 tutors changing lives through the Literacy Program. Since 1967 over 11,000 members of The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz’s community have received instruction from Literacy Program Tutors. Students come from all walks of life and what they hold in common is the desire to improve their lives.
Every week someone new walks into Literacy office to inquire about learning English. Some people want to get a job, to advance their career, to communicate with their neighbors, or simply talk with their child’s teacher about their concerns.
Thankfully, there are folks like Ching ready to meet the need.