Building something from nothing is no small task. That’s why we rely on a dedicated network of staff, volunteers, and community partners to support the refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers that we serve. Together, we support these populations as they rebuild a safe and stable life right here in the United States. This month, we sat down with Alicia to talk about her inspiration and impact as a volunteer English teacher with CAO:
What inspired you to volunteer with Colorado African Organization (CAO)?
CAO is such a wonderful place to be! I love the staff and I love the students in the ESL class. They all feel like family!
What skills do you contribute to our community and how do you spend your volunteer time?
I work as a nurse, and don't have prior experience teaching in a classroom, but I spend my volunteer time at CAO teaching English as a second language (ESL). I try to apply my experience of teaching my patients to teaching ESL, as well as incorporating health-related topics into our lessons. I think most importantly though, I bring a willingness to learn from my students, because they have much to teach from their experiences.
Did you have experience working with refugee and immigrant populations before you started volunteering here?
Yes. My husband and I moved to Aurora to live in community with the diverse refugee and immigrant populations who live there. We have been very involved in a community garden that is comprised mostly of refugee families, have been family mentors to newly arrived refugee families, and continue to seek our new ways to welcome out neighbors into our family.
From your perspective, what makes CAO unique?
I have never felt so welcome and loved as I have at CAO. It truly feels like home!
What have you learned from your experience as a volunteer with CAO? What will you take away from your time with our community?
I have learned that love is much more powerful than hate, and that together we can overcome great obstacles. I take away a desire to find new and creative ways to love others, especially those who are the hardest to love, following the example of the friends I have made through CAO.