Literacy Volunteers and why Florida is such a strange place to live…

I started the training for teaching ESL at the local literacy volunteers office this week. It seems like a good idea to find out if I even enjoy teaching English before I make a commitment to teach somewhere in Asia for a year. I’m impressed with some of the programs the Literacy Council offers: There are volunteers in 20 elementary school in the county that teach the parents of the students there – you walk in to drop off your kid and then you study English for an hour and a half before you go back home to go to work or get your household done. What a great idea – you are not asking people to add “going to school to study English” to their schedule, you just build an English lesson into their existing daily routine.

The first part of the training involved observing some classes and exploring the main framework the Literacy Council uses to teach English. We will get into the actual teaching during the second part of the training tomorrow, so more about that later. What captured my attention most was how the people who were there for the training introduced themselves. Mind you, we are sitting in a building in Bonita Springs, Florida, there are 12 of us, and we are asked to introduce ourselves. Now listen to this: The first person starts by saying, “I’m Steve and I live in Chicago. I’m a retired lawyer….” The second person says, “I’m Sue and I live in New York. I was an educator for 20 years…” Notice a trend here? The third person states, “I’m Jim and I live in Michigan.” Are they really commuting from Chicago, New York, and Michigan to this training? I highly doubt it. But nobody says, “I am from New York and live in Naples.” They actually say that they “live” someplace very far away from where their physical bodies currently reside. And that’s exactly why it is so difficult to actually “live” in Florida, make friends here, feel invested in your community, and make this your home – because nobody else does. Because they don’t actually live here…

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