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I have been fortunate to have travelled a lot. I lived and worked for a year in a tiny Scottish fishing village and moved with my own family to Alberta and back within a decade. Experiencing other communities, cultures, climates, and foods has always enticed me to wander. But I always enjoyed coming home- to my province and birthplace.
I have worked part time with READ Saskatoon since 2008, currently working in Program Development and Evaluation. I am also a volunteer tutor with READ Saskatoon.
When I reflected on those journeys, both travel and as a tutor, I realize they have much in common.
- They both open doors to new experiences.
- The more you travel or tutor, the more you learn about yourself and others.
- Both build empathy for others. My learner is a stranger in this land, and I have experienced what it feels like to be a stranger, too.
- The journey is not always easy - some destinations require more work, just as some literacy skills and tasks are more difficult.
- They both challenge your own assumptions. Just because I read a travel brochure or blog posting, does not mean it matches the culture or the region I visit. So it is with tutoring.
- In order to get the most out of the experience, travel and literacy involve curiosity.
- Both involve customizing activities to match personal interest, skill levels, and abilities.
- Both require a sense of humour. Some roads are more difficult than others, so lightening the mood is always helpful. (My travel motto is “When all else fails, have a laugh… and some lunch”)
- Patience is required. Many hours have been spent waiting in bus terminals and airports. Delays are inevitable in travel just as they are with learning. Many factors are at play within adult learners’ and tutors’ lives at any given point in time.
- Be flexible. If something isn’t working, change something. Take a new road, try a new method.
Coming home is the best part, so once you are back, reflect on your own journey, appreciate your memories, and share your journey (travel or literacy) with others.