Students partner with Adult Education to teach literacy, English classes
Alysa Guffey | Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Last year, sophomores Matthew Nguyen and Lucy Suo saw a need in the South Bend community to provide assistance with adult education. They responded by offering their time to tutor literacy students in the program one-on-one.
Now, Nguyen said, the pair is working to establish a sanctioned club by next semester for students in the tri-campus community to volunteer within the adult education sphere.
“We recognized that there was so much help needed, and the teachers just didn’t have enough hands,” Nguyen said. “There’s like, one teacher for every 20 students. And if you can imagine in a classroom of adults, they’re all at different levels. It was literally a mess, but it was a good mess.”
Nguyen and Suo volunteer through the Adult Education department within the South Bend Community School Corporation. Suo said the department’s lack of student tutors ultimately drove her and Nguyen to recruit more volunteers.
“We realized this would be a good opportunity for not just Notre Dame students to help out, but also to build a bridge with South Bend directly, because these are people within South Bend who need our help,” Suo said.
Nguyen said many students enrolled in the adult education program also deal with poverty, and view the program as a support system, amplifying the importance of volunteers.
Nguyen and Suo are currently reaching out to students who would like to be involved in the club, which they are naming Adult Education Alliance.
Suo spoke to the pair’s goals to have a buddy system once they have an ample amount of student volunteers.
“We hope to have one student paired with a student at ‘Ad Ed,’ and hopefully they can form a relationship, not just educational but more personal,” Suo said.
In addition to adult literacy classes, the program hosts classes on high school equivalency, family literacy and English language learning. The English language learning courses result in immigrants from a variety of ethnic backgrounds enrolling in the program, Nguyen said.
To acknowledge the cultural diversity of the enrolled students, Nguyen expressed his hopes for the club to put on a cultural event where students in the program can share an aspect of their culture.
“[The students] have so much to offer from their hometown, because they’re always visiting back to Japan or Africa or wherever they’re from … this would give them the opportunity to tell about their home,” Nguyen said.
Suo also said she supports the possibility of a cultural event, as it would allow adult students to share their talents.
“A lot of [the students] have talents that we don’t know about at first,” she said. “One Japanese student we met makes origami while another woman presents her ceramics at art fairs. We just want a showcase where people can show their skills.”
Adult Education Alliance as an educational experience for both parties, Suo said.
“It’s a really special opportunity to form relationships one-on-one, and they just don’t learn from you — you learn from them, too,” Suo said.