Thursday, December 8, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Zack

When we think of volunteering in the community, we often think of the people we are helping, the impact we are making and that amazing feeling of being a part of something big. Seeing eyes light up from your work can become an encouraging memory that sticks with you for life. These are the heart-warming intangibles that community service focusses on. What about the tangible benefits? When you play the role of the ever-important volunteer, you not only get the “feel goods,” but you often find yourself educated, helped and transformed by the experience. Many volunteers at the Chavez Center know this, including Zack Feere who basks in this Volunteer Spotlight.

One of the students Zack has
helped teach English.
Zack came to the Chavez Center with a clear understanding of his goals – he would be going abroad to teach English. “I always knew I wanted to teach abroad, and teaching ESL was the way to do that,” says Zack.  Along with a handful of others, when he came across the opportunity at the Chavez Center, he jumped on it. The project: give life to a new ESL class for technology students. There was neither a curriculum nor a textbook, just the understanding that the students must learn English skills they could apply to the workplace and getting a job.

There was one guiding light: Rosemary Slavin, who has become a beloved ESL teacher here at the Chavez Center. Zack, who had very limited experience in ESL expressed gratitude for her leadership in the class. “Rosemary was great in giving us the opportunity to teach our own classes,” he says.  As Zack became a regular instructor in the class, developing and leading his own lessons, he gained the experience that has launched him into the next chapter of his life in January.

After wrapping up his third master’s degree, Zack will embark on an adventure to spend a year in Colombia teaching English. He thanks the Chavez Center and this opportunity for how much this has helped and prepared him. Not only did volunteering qualify him for the program, but it also has set him up to pursue ESL certification.

What did Zack like most about the class? “It was chaotic and a lot of fun. The students were wonderful, and always in a good mood.” And if he does come back to the Bay Area when he gets back, Zack said he’d definitely be back to volunteer with us.

The moral of the story: never underestimate the help that volunteering can bring to all involved, those who serve and those served.  

The Chavez Center would like to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who made this first-ever ESL class possible: Rosemary, Donna, Kay, Miranda and Zack.

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