As an undergraduate at UCLA, Sarah Ribbers volunteered in a mentorship program called Latinas Guiding Latinas, in East Los Angeles. Working with and encouraging young Latinas to pursue higher education inspired Sarah to seek a career as a teacher. Sarah now teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) in Menlo Park, but fulfilling her career goal was not enough for her. “When I moved to the Bay Area seven months ago, from Madrid, Spain, I wanted to get back into volunteering,” Sarah says.
Sarah found IIBA’s call for volunteer ESL and Civics instructors at our Redwood City office and began volunteering in February. Teaching a basic-level citizenship class would be new to Sarah, something she viewed as a challenge and learning opportunity. “This is my first time teaching students who have little to no formal education. I spend a good portion of class time teaching English as a base.”
Sarah has done a great job helping first-time students feel comfortable and encouraged. She reminds them that the advanced students in class have been studying for many months, and she breaks material down into small assignments. Sarah explains, “I give all my students 10 words to learn each week, slowly building their vocabulary base.”
In the short time that Sarah has been volunteering with IIBA, already two of her students have passed the citizenship interview and test. “It is exciting to see how much the students grow from week to week and is especially nice when those who have passed come back to share the good news.”
Sarah has benefitted greatly from the public education she received from grade school to college and has made it her life’s work to pass that knowledge to others. She believes “anybody at any age deserves the opportunity to have access to free education.”
You can become a volunteer at your local IIBA office by visiting our Get Involved page.