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Volunteer Spotlight

Phuc NguyenPhuc Nguyen

When Phuc researched places for his wife to take English classes and found Literacy Advance, he realized he could help alleviate the long waitlist by volunteering himself. Unfortunately, we were in the midst of hurricane recovery. We put new classes and new tutor trainings on hold while we worked to contact students and volunteers, and to re-establish existing classes.

Phuc and his wife were super patient. He was among the first volunteers to sign up for training once we had the 2018 training calendar, and attended the first session in 2018 to become an English tutor. Now he’s here four days a week – he tutors an evening class twice a week, and his wife attends class as a student, two days.

Phuc has a compassion and understanding of the common reasons adults come to Literacy Advance. He patiently coaxes them to express themselves in English, and looks for opportunities for each of them to practice outside of class.

Already, his students are seeing a difference. Their feedback shows they are eager to learn more vocabulary, find ways to practice speaking English outside of the classroom, and they actually like homework! One of Phuc’s students promises: “I will talk to my kid in English every day.” Another shares: “I feel happy for I understand more every day.”

What brought you to Literacy Advance?

In short, my wife brought me to Literacy Advance. After 15 years in corporate America, in 2014 I took a voluntary sabbatical leave. I traveled to Asia, met my now-wife in Vietnam, spent the last few years living in Vietnam. We recently came back to the states in April 2017. My wife, a foreigner, was eager to learn English. We researched, asked friends, and found out about Literacy Advance of Houston. We quickly signed up for her registration and she got oriented in August 2017. During my research for her, I became interested in volunteering as a tutor. I signed up for tutor orientation and training shortly after, however, the infamous Hurricane Harvey delayed my orientation and training until December 2017. I am now a newly minted, trained tutor teaching my first bi-weekly class which began in February 2018.

What do you most enjoy about volunteering?

I enjoy connecting with the students. Learning and understanding the different backgrounds, motivations of the students.

Most new volunteers are nervous before they start tutoring. How did you prepare for your first class?

I prepared by going over the given Literacy Advance's lesson plan for the first two classes. I try to inject as much humor as I can in class to lighten the atmosphere, to promote community and learning.

What would you say to other people thinking about volunteering?

I would say "jump right in". If you are already thinking about it, you already have the "heart" for it. Your "heart" will continue to guide you once you "jump right in".

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would want the ability to play any and all musical instruments. Just like language, music has the ability to communicate. Each particular musical instrument, when played, can communicate and elicit love, emotions, time, healing, pain, suffering, memories, nostalgia, elation, hope, fear, melancholy, happiness, strength.

Thank you, Phuc!


Don't forget our previous spotlights!

Find the 2018 archive here.

Find the 2017 archive here.

Find the 2016 archive here.

Find the 2015 archive here.

Find the 2014 archive here.

Find the 2013 archive here.

Find the 2012 archive here.

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