I have been volunteering for SMART for about 15 years. I think it is such a great program. I have encouraged other people, such as my co-workers, to become involved with SMART as well. As a parent and grandparent, I know how important it is to read to children.
I remember a specific student I was assigned to. This young girl would hardly say a word. She would listen to me when I read, but she was very shy. It turns out, she was from the Philippines. She spoke English, but it was not her primary language.
In an effort to better connect with her, I went on a language website and tried to learn a few basic words of her native language. When I tried to tell her the words I had learned, she laughed at the way I pronounced them. She corrected me, and from that point on she started opening up. She could see that I was learning too, so we made a connection. That was a great experience.
Volunteering for SMART benefits the volunteers as well as the students. It can help volunteers to see what a wonderful job many of our public schools are doing; something they might not get out of the media.
I love to see the children blossom over time. Every child I read with is unique in his or her own way, and has been a lot of fun. Some are more challenging than others, but overall, I love the experience.