Each month, a volunteer at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is featured for their dedication of time and talent. This month's volunteer spotlight is:

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David - September 2018

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ (SFBFS) Adult Education program offers several free services to help adults reach their educational and personal goals, including English as a Second Language (ESL), tutoring, job development and Citizenship classes. Citizenship classes help prepare adults who are preparing for the United States Naturalization Interview and Exam. Like all classes at SFBFS, Citizenship classes are taught by a talented team of volunteers including, David Mitchell.

David, who is a plant and soil scientist at UC Davis, started volunteering as an ESL instructor in 2016, when he heard about the experience while taking Farsi lessons at the International House in Davis. His first experience tutoring individuals for the citizenship exam was in 2013 at the International Institute in St. Louis, MO, where he fell in love with the experience. “Teaching for a citizenship exam is a bit of a unique process, and once you get the hang of it, it can be very fun,” comments David.

The exam consists of history and civics topics. Volunteers such as David teach exam topics to students of various English language levels and abilities. “Seeing the students pass the exam and become Americans is always the best part of being involved in the class,” says David. “The one-on-one time with the students and the opportunity to learn about their lives keeps me coming back. The immigrant experience is such an important part of American life and the opportunity to be involved with helping immigrants live well and succeed in our country is invaluable.”

In addition to working with the students, David enjoys the volunteer experience for the educational value. “Teaching the citizenship curriculum has also taught me a great deal about America and inspired greater pride and appreciation for our values, despite the deep shortcomings in our society and politics.” David encourages others to get involved as volunteers. “Volunteering enriches your life in ways you would never have expected! It is a profoundly educational experience. It is an excellent way to get involved in the wider community and meet people you may otherwise never get to know in person.”

Jenifer Call, Cultural Orientation & Citizenship Coordinator, appreciates David’s dedication and teaching abilities. “David is the perfect example of what it takes to be a great teacher. He shows sincere empathy for his students, creates a positive and encouraging space, and then prepares them with the knowledge and skills they need to accomplish their goal of becoming a citizen.”

Jen recalls a recent conversation with students, which illustrates the synergy between David and his students. “Recently, David’s students approached me as a group to let me know what a wonderful teacher he is… and to make sure that he would be back to teach the summer session!  Luckily, David had already committed to teaching during the summer, so I had a happy group of students!”

SFBFS is unique because of volunteers such as David. All classes in Adult Education are taught by generous, sincere and talented volunteers, which creates welcoming classroom environments that cultivate learning for all students.

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