Be the Change you Want to See in the World

Transcript from LCNV's Volunteer Teacher, Vaishali Deshpande:

My name is Vaishali Deshpande, and I am a teacher with LCNV.  I have been teaching with LCNV for three years now.  Prior to this, I taught computer literacy in Plano Texas, at a family literacy program. Clearly, literacy is a subject close to my heart. 

I teach because I believe in the power and capabilities of a literate, empowered woman. Breaking the cycle of illiteracy and poverty, I believe, is the key to solving the “big issues” the world struggles with every day. In this country when a person is able to communicate in English, they open so many doors to opportunities for themselves and their children, breaking the generational cycle. I truly believe education is the only answer, and I am so incredibly fortunate that I am able to create and affect this change firsthand. 

Though language is a key barrier, it is not the only barrier. The language barrier combined with a lack of confidence keeps adults from being involved in their children’s schools, applying for jobs, seeking medical treatments, and completing simple tasks such buying groceries by themselves. When they gain confidence in their ability to communicate in English, they become engaged members of the school community, and society at large. 

How do I measure success? I don’t believe there is one simple test to measure success. Instead, I look at the ways in which they have become able to take on everyday situations with confidence. For example, when my student is able to attend a parent teacher conference and communicate with the teacher, when he or she is able to advocate for themselves in a doctor’s office or simply be able to read a job wanted sign, that for me is success.  

When my student Negina read “Frog and Toad,” she was able to write this beautiful paragraph about how every Frog needs a Toad and how friendship can change and enrich a life. Better yet, she could read the book to her children as a bedtime story. 

You will meet one of my heroes, Sajida, shortly.  Sajida has 4 children and took two buses to school every day but never missed a day. Her thirst for knowledge is truly inspiring. She wanted to learn, all she needed was the self-confidence and that small push to get her started on her journey. Sajida was a true champion for literacy in the classroom.  When one of my students faltered, she was there to tell them to keep going, come to class and to practice at home.  She really is my hero. 

I have gained an immense amount from teaching as well. I am constantly in awe of the determination and perseverance my students show; thinking of the obstacles they have had to overcome just to show up gives me perspective on my own life. My students inspire me every day. They are heroes, each and everyone one of them, and they have certainly changed my life. 

In my family, we have always lived by this saying by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the Change you want to see in the world.”  The LCNV organization is working every day to make this change, and your contribution in helping them with this mission is truly appreciated.