Learning through language

Meet Soren! He’s a sophomore studying business who has passions for helping others and language.
Soren has traveled to a few South American countries where he furthered his Spanish speaking. When Soren came back from Peru he wanted to keep up with his Spanish. Someone told him about the Student Worker Alliance Program (SWAP). SWAP trains volunteers to teach University of Colorado employees English. These employees work in dining halls, dorms and the recreation center as janitorial staff. The program strives to improve the relationships between immigrant employees and students. Volunteers teach one hour lessons twice a week using the student and teacher workbooks that are provided.

Soren has been with the program for a year now and has worked his way up from being a volunteer to being the education coordinator. As the education coordinator he works 10-12 hours a week developing and improving training materials and leading the volunteer trainings. The difficult part of his job is making sure that the volunteers are doing their part and working toward building a relationship with the employee. He strongly believes that the only way the program is effective is for volunteers to teach for the benefit of the employee and not for their own personal benefit or satisfaction. Soren views the time that volunteers and employees share as a time for both to learn about the other’s culture. The rewarding part of his job is seeing how excited the employees are to learn English. Most of the employees have been in the U.S. for years, but have never learned English well enough because they are often stuck in the communities they live in. They often have a tough time transitioning to life in the U.S. A lot of the employees were successful lawyers, doctors, etc., in their countries but had to leave due to various reasons.

SWAP has been a very important part of Soren’s college career. He wants to continue to teach others language in some capacity for the rest of his life. To find out more about SWAP visit their website at www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/swap/.