Share Your Voice: Annie
What is your name? Annie Schoonover
Where do you volunteer? The Minnesota Literacy Council main office and the Beginning ESL class at the Harmony Learning Center in Maplewood.
What is your volunteer role? I am a Community Outreach Intern for the Minnesota Literacy Council, as well as a one-on-one classroom tutor at Harmony.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering? Probably all the opportunities I have to meet people who are passionate about education. I love talking to the other volunteers and seeing how much they genuinely care about their students. I love going to meetings and participating in conversations about how to make this organization more inclusive and effective. I love tabling at fairs and events and telling people about the awesome volunteer opportunities that exist in their community. And I especially love talking to the students and seeing how dedicated they are to learning English.
What is something you've learned from a student? There was a particular student who started coming to class the same day I started volunteering. The first time I worked with her, she was clearly very nervous about being there and would get frustrated with herself whenever she didn't know something. A few weeks later, when I worked with her again, she had made amazing progress and felt so much more confident. Her ability to show up every day and do the work despite her nervousness is something I really admire.
What is your motivation for volunteering? As a creative writing major, verbal self-expression is very important to me. Not being able to speak the same language as the people around you is so difficult, and it creates social and emotional barriers as well as practical ones. I volunteer because, by teaching English, I'm not only helping people access important opportunities and services, I'm helping people form new connections to others in their community.
What is your favorite book and why? I love Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente. It's set during a sci-fi version of the Golden Age of Hollywood and tells the story of a documentarian who travels to Venus to investigate a colony that mysteriously disappeared years ago. It's a really immersive story—the language is beautiful, and the world Valente creates is dazzling and strange. The book also plays with genre in a fascinating way.
Have a story of your own you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Simply fill out this form to share your voice, and we’ll highlight your experience in our monthly e-newsletter for adult literacy volunteers and here in the Volunteer Voice blog.