National Volunteer Month Spotlight: Erika Otthofer

Erika Otthofer joined CIANA in 2020 to gain a cultural immersion experience after her study abroad tour was cancelled due to the pandemic. After graduating from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania with degrees in international studies and international politics, she has been volunteering as a virtual ESL instructor and tutor for the SONYC literacy club. In this interview, Erika shares some insight into what the past year has been like.

What made you volunteer with CIANA, and particularly the English classes and SONYC program?

Prior to my internship with CIANA, I tutored elementary and high school students since I was in high school. I also worked as a writing mentor for first-year college students who came from underprivileged backgrounds. These experiences motivated me to seek an internship where I could engage with students from various cultural backgrounds. I had never worked in adult education or with middle school students, so my internship allowed me to expand the scope of my tutoring and teaching experience.

My work with CIANA has made me reshape my career goals. As a result of my positive internship experience, I am seeking opportunities to work with English Language Learners of all ages as a long-term career. My volunteering experience at CIANA gave me professional experience that allowed me to get my current job as an ESL tutor and instructor for an adult basic education program.

What has your experience working with students been like?

My experiences working with middle school and adult students have been varied and unique. My stude