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National Volunteer Month: Meet Katya Mushik, ESL Instructor

Learning English is one of the most important skills new arrivals to the U.S. need to gain. Having a teacher dedicated to helping them learn English and challenging them to overcome the obstacle of learning a new language is one of the most invaluable resources that new immigrants can have.

For Katya Mushik, CIANA’s current ESL instructor, teaching English is a way to help immigrants start the journey of integrating into life in the U.S. We are grateful to Katya for helping our clients achieve that goal every Tuesday and Thursday. Read Katya’s reflections below.


What drew you to teach English at CIANA?

I was immediately drawn to CIANA's immigrant-oriented focus and to the values that they embody within their acronym - Integration and Advancement - both of which align with my purpose of pursuing ESL education.

Overall, what has your experience teaching ESL to a diverse group of immigrant adults been like?

Overall my experience has been extremely positive and eye-opening. I work with immigrant adults in the California Bay Area, where I reside now, but now I'm happy to say that I have expanded my horizon and have worked with a diverse group of students living in New York too. All of my students are so warm, positive, interactive, and eager to learn. The characters of the students, along with the diverse backgrounds and knowledge they bring with them to the classroom, has really enriched my teaching experience.

What are some challenges and advantages of teaching English virtually?

I began my teaching experience in the virtual classroom, so I can name many advantages - (1) the ability to teach students in a different region than where the teacher lives; (2) the accessibility (given there is a technological tool and wifi connection) for more students to participate, especially stay-at-home parents; (3) the ease with which you can access and present online materials during class; however, there are some challenges to teaching English virtually - communication barriers may be heightened in an online platform and being able to truly interact with each and every student is a challenge as well.

Are there any notable memories you have had with students in the class?

My most notable memories are whenever I 'pass the mic' over to my students - when an activity gets the students to communicate with each other (something quite difficult to do virtually) and when students who speak the same native language help each other out in the Zoom classroom (for example, translating the question I asked someone into Spanish). This always brings smile to my face!

What impact has volunteering at CIANA had on you and what impact do you hope you have left on your students?

Volunteering at CIANA has had a huge impact on my confidence as an ESL teacher and has inspired me to want to pursue teaching immigrants and refugees as a future career. Through my teaching, I hope to impact my students in many ways. Not only do I hope they improve their English skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, but I also hope they carry away with them a positive language learning experience that motivates them to continue learning English beyond the classroom and that helps them gain confidence that they can go out into the English-speaking world, speak for themselves and be understood by many.


We once again want to express our appreciation to Katya for her commitment to teaching English to our clients every week. Thank you Katya!


To learn more and enroll in CIANA’s virtual English classes, call us at (718) 545-4040 or email

For current volunteer opportunities at CIANA, visit


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