Virtual Volunteer Opportunity Allows Students to Connect and Engage  

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Ivan Becerril-Gutierrez

Hailey Griffin , Arts Editor

Starting on Oct. 27Madison College students will now have the chance to volunteer and connect with other students through online ESL classroom discussions 

The online ESL classroom discussions are “a partnership between Madison College Volunteer Center and The School for Academic Advancement,” said Volunteer Center advisor, Briana Stapleton-Welch 

These discussions will occur every Tuesday and Thursday from noon-1:20 p.m. They’ll last for about three weeks, until Nov19.  

Office Manager of the Volunteer CenterStudent Leader, and Writing and Math Tutor at Madison CollegeAdama Sawadogo, helped orchestrate the online ESL classroom discussions.  

As a Student Leader at the Volunteer Center, we are expected to organize an event each year. And when it came my turn to do that, I was thinking, based on my background, what can I do to be meaningfulAnd I was thinking, okay, I have some background knowledge in ESL myself, I was taking those classes years ago,” said Sawadogo.   

I asked Brianna if there’s a way we can help students who are in ESL classes. And she said she had a friend, who is Sarah Finesilverwho is teaching that class, and we got in contact, and we planned everything. 

ESL instructor, Sarah Finesilver, will moderate the discussions between volunteers and students.  

 “[Sarah] hears from her students all the time that they want to practice English by talking with people and like, there are some places in the community to do that, but not a ton at Madison College. So, she created a class where volunteers can sign up to just show up and chat, and the topics are set for the day,” said Stapleton-Welch.  

Each discussion will focus on a different topic. 

They’re usually, you know, current events or your interests or hobbies so it’s not like you have to come prepared with talking points,” said Stapleton-Welch. Because the instructor, she creates activities for you so when you log on to volunteer, she’ll give you all the instructions and then put you into little break out rooms with people, so that you can just talk. 

It’s fun because you get to know other students at Madison College, but also they are practicing. For themit’s a great opportunity to practice English language skills. But it’s also just a nice way to connect with people, especially during a time of a lot of isolation. 

To sign up and volunteer to be a part of the discussions, students can use the sign-up genius link listed in the “Exploring Culture Through Conversations” student news announcement on the Madison College website.  

The link is also featured in WolfPack Connect and a Volunteer Email Student Newsletter. Stapleton-Welch said that students will receive a link from the instructor after they sign up, as well.  

“It’s usually in ESL classes that you have the chances of meeting those people around the world that you’d never have the chance to unless you take a flight to those countries. So, I think it’s a thing with two advantages, you know, exploring the world and at the same time, helping people with language…” said Sawadogo.