When I heard about the opportunity to become a volunteer tutor to teach English to refugees, I felt it was something I wanted to do. I completed training and was later introduced to my student.


My student is from Somalia. She is a 29-year-old single mom with a 6-year-old son. She was 5 years old when she and two siblings left Mogadishu, Somalia, during their civil war. They were fortunate enough to go with another family, but left behind her parents and other siblings. They went to a refugee camp in Kenya. She lived in that refugee camp in a tent for15 years and suffered through many tragic losses of friends and family. Nine years ago, another family was able to bring them to the United States and my student and her brother and sister emigrated to Minnesota. My student moved to Colorado seven years ago.

My student didn’t get to go to school while in the refugee camp because she was the oldest daughter and had to work at home. She has never learned to read or write in any language. She tries quite hard to speak and read English, although sometimes it is a struggle with the responsibilities of her son, her family, her neighborhood and religious celebrations. She also listens diligently to citizenship CDs so she can become a citizen of the United States.


I’ve grown very fond of my student and her son. She makes me laugh. The grandma in me sometimes calls her “Hon”, and she calls me “Hon” back! I work with her usually twice a week, between one and two hours each time. I have also been able to help her in several other situations and recently, when the someone asked her, “Is your teacher a good teacher?” her answer was “She is a good teacher but there is more. She is a good friend!”