Volunteer tutor Nazifa Nasim, just like many of her students in CIANA’s Elementary Afterschool Program, comes from a South Asian immigrant family. Her own background informs how she approaches and engages with her young students, and gives her insight into the challenges that they may face in school.
While National Volunteer Month, which falls in April, has ended, the first week of May is National Teacher Appreciation Week. We’re excited to spotlight Nazifa this week in celebration of the crucial role that both professional and volunteer educators play in shaping young people’s futures.
How did you decide to tutor at CIANA’s after school program?
I knew I wanted to participate at CIANA’s after school program because I myself am a daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants. As I’ve gotten older, it has become more important to me to be able to give back to students or children who are in similar shoes to the ones I was in.
Overall, what has your experience tutoring immigrant children/children of immigrants been like?
My experience tutoring immigrant children/children of immigrants has been incredibly rewarding. I know that I am there to help kids with their school work, but oftentimes I am the one who learns something new as well. Whether it is a unique story they share with me about their lives or small comments about the way they look at the world, it has been so refreshing and fun to connect and learn from them too.
What are some challenges (and advantages) of tutoring virtually?
Some challenges of tutoring virtually include missing the seamlessness of pivoting between textbooks quickly. In person, the process is just taking out a different textbook once a specific homework assignment is complete, but virtually it involves a bit more of a lift - adjusting the camera, making sure the wifi doesn’t go out, etc. It seems silly in hindsight, but definitely can be cumbersome!
Some advantages of tutoring virtually include the ability to take advantage of online tools and interactive resources quickly. For instance, one of my students wanted to learn more about caterpillars for a project and we were able to instantly screen share, watch a video and interact via an online learning game to easily visualize aspects of the bug.
Is there a particular subject that you enjoy tutoring the most?
I really have enjoyed tutoring my students on their reading assignments. It is great to see when they’ve finished reading a sentence and ingest a concept. They will also often ask questions after completing their readings, which makes for fascinating discussions.
Are there any notable memories you have had with students in the program?
One really notable memory I had with a student in the program was when they came to a lesson incredibly prepared for their reading assignment. I had been working with this student for over three months and something we mutually agreed to work on was to improve her reading skills. For this particular lesson, my student breezed through the paragraphs and it all seemed so effortless. I told her I was incredibly proud of her and she responded that “she took my advice” and had been reading at least 10 minutes each day since we started working together. That moment was one of my best and proudest moments as a tutor.
What impact do you hope you have left on students you have worked with?
I hope that the students I have worked with feel a deepened sense of confidence in themselves and are empowered to achieve all their dreams. Each student at CIANA has so much potential and while they are often navigating new territories day in and day out, with time and continued focus on education, they will be the ones who will one day shape the world around us. I feel honored to have played a small role in that very tremendous journey.
Thank you to Nazifa for your hard work and dedication to helping CIANA's youngest clients succeed in school and beyond!
To learn how you can volunteer at CIANA's afterschool programs, or to find more volunteer opportunities at CIANA, visit www.cianainc.org/volunteer.