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.
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Computers can be frustrating for many of us. Fortunately, help is available at your library. Let our knowledgeable, patient Seven Trees Library volunteers help you solve your computer problems. Here at the Seven Trees Library we have two volunteer Tech Mentors and one volunteer eBooks Coach. A Tech Mentor is available to assist you every Wednesday evening from 5:00-6:00PM and Saturdays from 11:00AM-1:00PM. Our eBooks Coach is available every Saturday from 12:00-2:00PM. No appointment is necessary. Come to the Seven Trees Library and get the one-on-one help you need!
He didn't talk to a Seven Trees Tech Mentor . . .
They did . . .