At the beginning of my and Jan’s meetings, I was very embarrassed to speak English, I did not feel comfortable. In terms of my English level, I was unable to conduct a conversation in English, but from session to session my English improved greatly.
Today I feel more comfortable speaking English, my vocabulary is growing and it is all thanks to Jan.
Our sessions helped me come to terms with the experience I had as a student at school, where my teacher influenced my lack of success in English. The sharing made me feel more comfortable with that situation, and of course I started seeing English in a more positive and enjoyable way.
We studied grammar, Jan helped me write a resume, we simulated job interviews in English, I learned about her family and her life. Beyond learning English, Jan mentors me, advises me, listens to my needs and supports me.
I am happy to have the privilege of taking part in this amazing project that has promoted me on both a personal and a professional level. I also got to know a strong, amazing and inspiring woman.
From this amazing project I take with me the ability to overcome my barrier of English, an experience of learning English in a pleasant and fun way, and an amazing mentor.
R and I have been meeting just about weekly for almost a year. We have worked on verbs, pronunciation, and vocabulary. We focused on CV wording and on her LinkedIn profile. We practiced answering interview questions in English.
As time passed and out connection grew, we shared more personal information. I learned that at her Seders, her family talks about the Ethiopian oppression as compared to the Israelites’ experience in Egypt.
R opened up about the painful experience she had in school where a prejudiced teacher told Revital, being from Ethiopian descent, could never learn English. This experience led to insecurity and lack of confidence in her ability to learn English, and left lasting scars.
R shared about her volunteer work with Ethiopian teens preparing to go into the army. She helps them make connections with officers in different parts of the army and reach for higher level positions than they would normally be offered. This young woman is already giving back to her community even before she is settled herself.
English B’Yachad tutoring has been a great opportunity for me. I feel gratified by being able to do something positive for R. And it came about at the perfect time. Not only during the pandemic when we were all stuck at home, but just after the George Floyd murder, when I was feeling that I had to DO something toward anti-racism. I have shared with R other anti-racism work in which I am involved here in the US and we have discussed these issues.
I have grown to feel a real bond between us – she is somewhere between a friend and a third daughter. I am looking forward to being able to travel to Israel to meet R in person, to meet her family and to introduce her to my daughter who lives in Tel Aviv.
Thank you to Marla and Minna for creating this wonderful program. May it grow and expand to help many more young Israelis in the future!!
Jan, New Jersey