Share Your Voice: Audrey
What is your name? Audrey Dombro
Where do you volunteer? I work as a community outreach intern [at the Minnesota Literacy Council] and I volunteer at Cedar Riverside Adult Education Collaborative.
What is your volunteer role? Classroom assistant in a low-level literacy class.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering? The learners I work with have instilled in me an understanding of the depth of connection and communication that goes beyond verbal. Although there is quite a significant language barrier in class, I’ve been struck by how easy it can be to reach an understanding – to share humor, to motivate, sometimes even to be sassy, and overall to get a grasp on each other’s personality through the interactions that we have. I have always enjoyed meeting new people, because I feel that each person you meet has something to teach you, and volunteering provides me with so many people to meet!
What is something you've learned from a student? The English language can be totally wack! One of the students I work with always approaches me excitedly in any spare minute, pointing to every single word on her paper for me to say aloud so she can listen and repeat the pronunciation. This always makes me feel like we’re on a road trip and I’m navigating from my memory while she’s relying on a map that doesn’t show the route. The words she stumbles over often have silent letters or letters that combine to form a completely different sound. Working with this learner has taught me that English is far from phonetic and therefore not intuitive at all; it takes constant memorization and repetition! So I have loads of respect for learners of English.
What is your motivation for volunteering? I’m here to help build a stronger community. To me, literacy is important because it can be an avenue to advocacy and political activism. And I am a Minnesota baby after all, so the galvanizing spirit of volunteerism runs deep in the tributaries and channels of my veins.
What is your funniest volunteer memory? It can be difficult to explain the meaning of words that are not tangible, and when faced with such, a game of charades starts. One of my recent favorites – cue hands waving in the air, wide eyes, trying to act out "lost" – left us all giggling.
What is your favorite book and why? I just finished The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and I highly encourage those who have not read it to do so. The book discusses how mass incarceration as been used as a tool to perpetuate an American caste system that criminalizes minorities. Without a doubt, this is an urgent and meaningful read.
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.