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Votes

Column: From Learning ABC’s …

— Meeting Paola has been a life changing experience. I began working with Paola in February 2011 and it started out as mainly teaching her the English language. We’d read stories and spend minutes on a page, even if it only had a sentence on it, because I would ask her to name each item shown on a page, the colors and to count how many objects were in a picture, etc.

Paola caught on very quickly and her open, eager-to-learn attitude made it easy to talk with her and allow our relationship to grow. It didn’t take long for me to find myself really looking forward to Tuesday evenings as the highlight of my week. I also began to see things and wish I could share them with Paola—anything from seeing an animal to shopping at Target made me think of her smiling face.

I remember the first activity we did together outside of tutoring was visiting a petting zoo, which was perfect because her favorite book to read with me was about a zoo and the animals there. From that time together, I really learned a lot about her life back in Honduras and I had something more to talk about with her parents as well, which helped me form a bond with them, too.

Since the afternoon at the petting zoo, Paola and I have done many things together, like lunch outings, movies, swimming and just playing with my cat (she is quite the animal lover). Also, I’ve read stories she has written about her parents, met and visited with her grandmother and her dad even asked me if I would ever be interested in traveling to Honduras some day when they go to visit.

There’s a line in the movie “The Blind Side,” where friends of a mother (Sandra Bullock) make a comment about what a great thing she is doing for the boy she has adopted and how she is changing his life, and she responds, “No, he’s changing mine.”

Because of Paola, I can completely relate to that feeling and know exactly what she means—what a blessing this experience continues to be for me.

To contact Alexandria Mentoring Partnership, 703-746-4475