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Why I Volunteer an Hour of My Time Every Wednesday

I grew up in Taiwan and went to a private elementary school where my classmates’ parents were either teachers, lawyers, or doctors. One of my most vivid memories from childhood was getting weekly English lessons with my other elementary school friends. All the parents had chipped in to pay for an American tutor to help us learn the language from a native speaker, and this was all to give us a leg up in the competitive academic environment in Taiwan.

My family and I eventually immigrated to the U.S., and I was able to thrive academically because I already knew the English language. Looking back, I grew up in a pretty privileged environment, and I probably took it for granted. I don’t think I would be so comfortable living in the U.S. now if I didn’t get that boost from a native English speaker that my parents had paid for.

In San Francisco, an elementary school tutor costs $35–62/hr. If you pay for an hour’s worth of tutoring per week for the entire year, that could cost you up to $3,100. As a volunteer reading tutor for the San Francisco Public Library FOG program, I’m saving quite a bit of money for someone who cannot afford this extra bit of help, or would rather spend it on something else, like the expensive healthcare system in the U.S. (more on that another time..) I think back to the English tutor that has probably played a significant role in shaping my ability to communicate today, and it’s rewarding to be able to leave that same dent in someone else’s life.

I look forward to my tutoring session every week, and I hope it’s had as much of an impact on my tuttee as it has had on me. Including more information here for those interested in finding out more about this program. I encourage everyone to do it!