Volunteer Spotlight - Amy Fowler

Amy Fowler

Introducing Amy Fowler

Amy has been volunteering at the Willow Glen Branch Library for 6 years as the library’s ESL Conversation Club facilitator. In addition to her reliable service every week since 2012, Amy’s friendly demeanor and passion for teaching has helped her earn and retain a faithful group of club members. Ali, who has been a part of the club for 7 months, came to the library to learn English and says the ESL Conversation Club has really helped him improve. 

Additionally, Amy also volunteers at the Almaden Branch Library, sorting donations for the Friends of the Library book sales. 

Submitted by Librarian, Yannina Yang from the Willow Glen Branch Library

A Chat with Amy

As a child... when I was 18 years old, I came to the US with my family from Hong Kong. As an immigrant myself, I can relate to the struggles and experiences of the members that come to the ESL conversation club. It makes me feel good to be able to help them.

My job... I have been a civil engineer for 30+ years working in water resources. Water is life... clean water and a clean environment is a necessity for everyone. As I work for the water district, one thing that I enjoy most is that, as part of a public agency, I like to think that I am working for the public good.

The best things I have experienced through volunteering... I’ve made friends with a group of club members. Although they no longer attend the club regularly, we still keep in touch and get together on occasion. Another wonderful thing is when I can see the improvement in the club members’ conversation skills as they continue to attend.

I am most proud of... that I’ve worked hard and I’m comfortable.

My biggest challenge... as an ESL Conversation Club facilitator is that most of the people I work with are at an intermediate level... they already know English, but just don’t speak it that well. Some are better than others. And I’ve had beginners who get intimidated... so they only show up once, and they don’t come back, which is a shame. That’s the biggest challenge to facilitating... It’s like teaching, where you teach to the median but sometimes lose some from the upper end and some from the lower end.

Libraries are... the most valuable asset for the community.

My favorite book is... There are too many to name just one, as I check out and read many, many books from the library.  I like everything!  I tend to read more fiction than non-fiction. One of my recent favorites was All the light we cannot see for fiction,  and ... ???  the name escapes me but a fascinating book my friend recommended about octopi... who would think that octopi are such brainiacs?

I volunteer... because I like to give back to the community. I have free time on my hands and I don’t sit well and do nothing.

If I wasn't volunteering... I’d be doing one of my many hobbies: ceramics, crochet, origami, jewelry making, piano, and also travelling more!

Anything else... I think people should use the libraries more. It’s an under-utilized and under-appreciated resource for anything... not just language learning.

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