by Beth Garstka

Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

Guest Blogger

If you know Kelly, then you would know that he enjoys working with people and loves a good challenge.  Since August of 2010, Kelly has met all challenges that have come his way with a smile and dedication that is beyond belief. Kelly understands the expectations of teaching an intermediate class at UNP Hartland (a partnership location that the English Skills Learning Center has had since the University of Utah started its West-side outreach in 2001).  Kelly is responsible, motivated, and every week he greets the students with his permanent smile.

Even though Kelly has been teaching this small group class for a couple of years and has empowered students by improving their English skill level, Kelly has also been a student – learning from his class. His relationship with the students always seem to be reciprocated and has lead to an amazing enriching environment. There are too many stories to list here, but one priceless story from Kelly follows:

“To me, one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language is becoming comfortable speaking it. I encourage all my students to take advantage of any opportunity
they have to speak English, including in stores and even with random strangers. Armando, a long time student, took my challenge seriously. One weekend, he and his brothers had gone fishing. As they walked the banks of the river, Armando spotted a fellow fisherman down river. He told his brothers he was going to go speak English with the man. His brothers said he was crazy but Armando bravely set off to practice speaking English and started up a conversation with the gentleman. Approaching the stranger and mustering all his courage, Armando asked if he spoke English. The fisherman looked perplexed and responded “No, Bosnian.” Disappointed, Armando left but has not given up speaking English whenever he gets a chance.”

Start collecting your own stories today by voluntarily teaching English to adult newcomers with the English Skills Learning Center.

United Way of Salt Lake works in partnership with the English Skills Learning Center to service Rose Park, Central City, Glendale, West Valley, Kearns, South Salt Lake, and two Welcome Centers.  The ESLC provides training to volunteers and supervises them as they teach free English classes for the growing adult newcomer population.