Professional ESL teacher Stevii Marshall brought her worldwide experience back to the U.S. at the start of the pandemic, serving new needs and new communities. As she looks forward to continuing her education this fall at Johns Hopkins University for her Masters in Education, we were fortunate to reflect with Stevii about her time as an ESL teacher with CIANA.
What made you volunteer with CIANA, and particularly in the English classes?
Last fall, I was trying to find a job, but all the positions where I would be teaching motivated adults required extensive experience with refugees, immigrants, or at least multicultural classes. My experience prior to CIANA was working in foreign countries teaching monolingual groups. I wanted to get some experience in the NY/multicultural area and also end the pandemic-induced “gap” in my resume, so it seemed like a great opportunity! A couple months ago, I landed a paying job teaching adult immigrants in Maryland, so my time at CIANA has really paid off professionally.
What has your experience working with students been like?
My experience has been wonderful! Teaching people who are motivated to learn is always a rewarding experience, and having a couple of the same students stick with the classes for 8 months has given me the opportunity to really see significant progress.
It’s amazing when students feel comfortable enough to have discussions with each other in English. I have one student who just said “No English” on the first day, and relied on other speakers of her language (myself included) to translate or explain things in class. Now she chats away comfortably with everyone in English and has made enormous progress.
What were some challenging moments that you experienced during your internship?
The most challenging moments have been when students stop coming to class because of personal issues - it’s difficult when there’s nothing you can do to help and you know that a break in their learning will make it difficult to start again next time.
Have the clients left an impact on you?
Absolutely. The most challenging moments have been when students stop coming to class because of personal issues; it’s difficult when there’s nothing you can do to help and you know that a break in their learning will make it difficult to start again next time. But on the other hand, it is especially inspiring to watch women who have young children take more control of their lives by doing these classes online - they likely wouldn’t be able to take these classes if they were in person!
We are so thankful for the knowledge that Stevii was able to bring into the classroom with our clients, and wish her the best at Johns Hopkins this fall!
Become a volunteer: https://www.cianainc.org/volunteer