Since the moment I walked in the door on my first day, I have been overwhelmed by OLC’s radical hospitality and kindness. I immediately became a part of the OLC family; students learned my name, I was introduced to the Board of Directors, and my coworkers and I began to collaborate. As I have learned, I am not the only one who feels that OLC is special. Everyone that I have asked—students, volunteers, board members, or staff members, during or outside of interviews—feels and cherishes the community of OLC every day. Students are happy to be here and learn, and staff and volunteers love working and serving. Before, after, and in between classes, the students all sit around our welcome area table to drink coffee (or tea) and chat. Some students love it here so much that they end up giving back to OLC in the form of donations or volunteering. Many see it as a second home.
The other thing that has most amazed me about OLC is its stories. Through my work on the “Humans of OLC” project, I have begun to understand the importance of literacy in an entirely new way. In my first week on the job, I talked to a man who needed to learn English in order to verify his medical license in the U.S. With no work as a doctor, he had trouble feeding his young daughter. In that same week, I also learned how the joy of volunteering at OLC changes lives; many of our tutors work here full-time for years on end. Recently, I found out that one of our students got a local job because he had learned enough English to do an interview. In French, he told me that he hopes to provide English resources to other refugees in the future.
You don’t often think of a job as a gift. Yet what I have received in the last eight weeks is much more than experience (though I have received that too!). It is love, understanding, and hope. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding way to spend my summer.”