- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Volunteer Erik Petersen is the ESL Conversation Club Facilitator at Biblioteca Latinoamericana. Every Wednesday at 6:00 PM, he leads the ESL Conversation Club. In this blog posting, Erik answers questions about himself and his interests.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a San Jose native who's lived in the South Bay my entire life. What I've always appreciated about growing up in the Bay Area is its sheer diversity. From a young age, I'd been exposed to various Latin American and Asian cultures that exist in San Jose, including their languages like Spanish and Tagalog. This is partly what spurred my initial interest in language. I decided to take Latin classes in high school, and knew by the end of my senior year I wanted to study language science in college. As of last spring, I finished up a linguistics and German language double major at SJSU. Having studied these two complementary degrees, I feel that I can contribute what I learned about language itself to the club. Topics we discuss range from current local or national events to language and cultural comparison. An analytical approach to language and a natural curiosity have allowed me to learn just as much from attendees as I hope they learn from the club itself.
Why are you interested in volunteering?
I wanted to get involved with volunteering since I'd never done any before. I have a goal of eventually teaching English abroad. I figured this position is great way to test the waters. I have a friend with similar goals who leads an ESL conversation club at the Berryessa branch, and he recommended it to me. Helping others improve their skill in English has been rewarding, especially having been on the other side of the aisle, so to speak. I spent a year studying in Germany, and I really appreciated those who would patiently spend the time to converse with me. That sort of exchange improved my German in ways that were impossible in the classroom. Likewise, conversation club is distinct from the ESL classes at the library in that it's more informal and less about grammar or pronunciation. Seeing as I'm a facilitator, I don't consider myself a teacher in the sense of being the 'head' of the club. Rather my role is to help create an environment where attendees feel comfortable to add to discussion or introduce topics of their own. Of course I answer questions and moderate discussions, but if a positive conversation is happening I keep my interruptions to a minimum. The club is for attendees to speak up, not me!
What do you like about Biblioteca Latinoamericana?
One thing I have noticed is the amount of activities available at this location. It seems every week I come in there is something to see: children's story time, ESL classes, and even creative cultural displays. I also appreciate the very existence of a multicultural library providing bilingual services. In my experience, the employees who provide those services have all been very helpful, and I've seen a clear mutual appreciation among all the volunteers. Overall, I view Biblioteca Latinoamericana as a unique offering among public libraries in the South Bay.
Give children the joy of reading by reading aloud to youngsters at one of the San Jose Public Libraries. Reading occurs in the library's children's area at designated times throughout the day. Specialized training is provided to all incoming volunteers. Several of our library branches are seeking volunteers to read to children on an ongoing basis (minimum 6 month commitment). Bilingual volunteers (Spanish/English) are especially needed. This position requires fingerprinting.
Training is on Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 12:00pm - 3:00pm at the King Library. Please complete the application form and register for training here.
On Friday, March 1 the Children's Room of the King Library had a fantastic Seussical Birthday Party!
It was a huge success because of staff and the wonderful volunteers who came out to help us. This year we had a few of our Reading to Children volunteers, Homework Club coaches plus two other groups helping out: college students from the Sigma Omicron Pi Sorority of San Jose State University and high school students from Cambrian Academy Interact Club. These wonderful volunteers gave us 2 hours of their time on a Friday afternoon and without them the program would not have been as great as it was. We had nearly 100 children and adults enjoying all the activities. The volunteers helped with the craft activity, read to children, manned the different stations and had a great time interacting and laughing with the kids. It was wonderful to see and hear. They thanked us so much for allowing them to volunteer and have such a worthwhile experience. It was a win win situation for all of us! Of course, this program was also made possible by another volunteer organization: The Friends of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The Friends donated books which the children received as prizes and sponsored other prizes as well!
This is just one of the ways people can volunteer at the library; it does not have to be a long commitment but just one afternoon, as these volunteers did, to give back to your community and help library staff put on a fun program. We could not have done it without the help of these volunteers. Our hats are off to them!
Our grand opening is approaching, and we're getting more and more excited at Seven Trees. We’re excited about the fun activities we have planned for opening day. We’re also excited about bringing valuable, life-enriching resources and programs to the Seven Trees community. One way you can share in that excitement is by volunteering at the Seven Trees Library. We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available, and we’re recruiting now to fill them. Check out a list of volunteer positions and make a difference in your community by volunteering at the Seven Trees Library!
Do you have enough things in your life? Do you have too many things, or do you need more? How do you know when you have too much? During this season of giving and any time, it might be interesting to consider reducing the amount of stuff you have and consume, and giving it to others. The Power of Half by the father/daughter team of Kevin and Hannah Salwen describes their family's journey from having a lot of stuff that they thought they really needed to their group decision to get rid of a lot of it. They chose as a family to downsize by half and give the proceeds to charity.
The Salwens changed many things about the way the live when one day co-author Hannah Salwen noticed a homeless man looking for food and other help at a busy city intersection and the expensive luxury car that was stopped in front of them. She asked her dad what would happen if the driver in front of them didn't have such a nice car. Would the homeless man then be able to eat? As a result, the family started having weekly, in-depth discussions about what they needed to live comfortably as opposed to what they wanted. Soon the discussions turned to whether they should sell their large house and get rid of a lot of the things in it that they had collected. They soon discovered that much of the stuff that they had invested in was holding them back. They barely missed it at all.
This award-winning video from Hannah's brother, Joseph shows what they gave up and what they gained. It describes the family's desire to help people in a small village in Africa while keeping in mind the homeless man they had seen at the intersection.
It's a very interesting story. While you're reading it, you might want to think about how you could make a significant difference, or even a small difference, by giving back to your community. You don't have to sell your house to help others. Each chapter ends with suggestions from Hannah about activities that families can do together to give back.
Partners in Reading (PAR) is the adult literacy program of the San Jose Public Library. Following is some information for new volunteers and for adults who need help with reading, writing, communication, and computer skills.
Imagine that you could not read a medicine label. What problems do you think might happen as a result?
Consider becoming a volunteer tutor to help change someone’s life, quite possibly your own. Become a volunteer tutor and work with an individual or a small group to tutor basic literacy skills. The next orientation and training begin on March 13, 2013. The 90-minute orientation is followed by two all-day training sessions at the King Library on Saturday, March 16 and Saturday, March 23.
The next learner orientation for adults who want to be part of PAR’s regular tutoring program for basic literacy will be on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Learners need to be over 18, live or work in San Jose, read or write below the 9th grade level, and be able to make a 6-month commitment.
For information about any of these opportunities and to sign up, please call (408) 808-2361. You can also find out more about Partners in Reading by visiting us online.