This time we am very happy to share some volunteer writing. Hilary Parkinson wrote a beautiful letter to the powers that be about saving LETC’s funding. It appears here, in a slightly modified version.
The woman that cleans my office. The cooks where I buy lunch. The young people hurrying around Dupont Circle. The nanny who works for my friend.
After teaching 6 classes at Language ETC, everyone looks different to me. Any of them could be one of my students. Someday, they might be sitting in my class. They might be people who work all day, and then go to class for two hours in the evening, four nights a week. They might be people I will get to know and care about.
I love DC, with its monuments and cherry blossoms, but Language ETC is my favorite place in the District. In the teacher’s lounge, no one is bragging about their jobs or salaries. Volunteers are coming up with games, plotting lesson plans, or conferring about a student. Every class has two teachers who teach together, and these teachers communicate with 3 other sets of teachers. It’s a group effort.
In a city that can be obsessed with power, Language ETC is about giving power away.
What kind of power?
The power to communicate with your child’s nursery school teacher. The power to take a written test and join the Army to start a career as a mechanic. The power to talk with your coworkers, so the chef who only speaks English will tell you how much you’ve improved.
This kind of power is empowerment. It improves the lives of people who need help, and it improves the lives of those who give help. Getting to know other people in a personal way across social and economic lines is a rare thing in DC: Language ETC is a special place.
This past Tuesday, as my teacher and I put our classroom binder back, we were excited about our lesson. We could see improvements already, just three weeks in. Students stood up confidently to participate in a spelling bee. They asked us questions in English. They asked each other questions in English. They had fun.
I know you’ve had a long and busy day. But so have all our students.