Yizhan’s first language was Chinese, she started learning English in China mostly to read it but not to speak it. So when she first came to the U.S. for graduate school she was nervous about conversing in English.

“I couldn’t speak English at all, it was all in my brain and it was all silently being translated, but rarely did I speak it,” said Yizhan.

Her experience of timidity when speaking English as a second language is what helps make Yizhan a great tutor for Somali women through our SALT program.

“Because I understand the fear and anxiety of starting to speak English, as a volunteer tutor for Somali women, I can sympathize with my students,” said Yizhan. “One of the women I tutored was frequently only in environments where Somali was spoken; either at home or working at a Somali daycare. She had been in the U.S. for many years, but her English was very basic because she was not comfortable speaking English. My position as a tutor is just to help her to feel comfortable to speak English more.”

Other tutors have been recruited from Yizhan’s Mandarin-speaking church in Plymouth, so our SALT program currently has three ESL volunteers from West Metro Chinese Church tutoring Somali women and children. Talk about a multi-cultural service opportunity!