If it weren't for Literacy Services of Wisconsin (LSW), these two might never have met.
Fifteen years ago, Tom retired from his career as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, wanting to find a meaningful volunteer experience. He's been tutoring at LSW for seven years because he likes to teach students that are so motivated. Maria came to the United States from Mexico in 1997, without knowing any English. She began to study at LSW, coming to us three days a week.
In 2006, Maria and Tom started working together and hit it off quickly. Maria was a dedicated and dependable student who worked on her English constantly. For two years, Tom tutored Maria and their connection grew. They shared more than just English—they shared their families. Tom's daughter-in-law is Peruvian, and she and his son were moving to the U.S.; Tom wanted to learn Spanish—and there was a natural teacher sitting across from him at LSW.
Now, three years later, Maria talks about her student, saying "he's very smart and his Spanish is coming along." Tom emails Maria paragraphs in Spanish, she corrects them and sends them back. He gave her a book on English, and she repaid him with a Spanish disc.
Maria is now employed as a bilingual medical interpreter. Tom is stunned at the effort Maria has made to teach him Spanish. "She has to run to get here all the time. I don't know why she does it." Maria notes that the students and tutors at LSW "are like a big family—they help each other every time they come."
When told how valuable Tom's tutoring was to Maria, he replies, "Well, it's not nearly the gift she's given me."
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