Auburn students find many ways to give back to the Auburn community, especially in ways that relate to their studies. Spanish for “hope,” Esperanza House is one opportunity for students, especially those taking Spanish classes, to give back to the Auburn community.
“You don’t have to speak Spanish,” said Shelby Yoder, intern at Esperanza House and junior in psychology. “That’s the good thing about Esperanza House: as long as you’re kind and you have a good heart and you want to help kids, that’s all they care about.”
Esperanza House is a nonprofit organization that provides tutoring for 150 children in the Auburn community. The children are assigned a classroom by their grade, where volunteers help them with their homework.
The volunteers, according to Yoder, are responsible and very good at supervising the children.
“They definitely make sure they have their homework done,” Yoder said. “I had not volunteered, and I walked in there, and the little girl is like, ‘I don’t have any homework.’ And the volunteer was like, ‘Yes, she does. Check her folder.’”
Lauren Mussell, senior in Spanish and biomedical sciences, volunteers as a tutor for high school girls, assisting them with school work in “everything from environmental science to English to algebra.”
The best part, according to Mussell, is interacting with the students and connecting with them in Spanish.
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“Many of them are still in the process of learning English, so it’s been an amazing opportunity to combine my Spanish and English abilities to help the students completely understand the topics,” Mussell said. “I think the girls see me struggling sometimes when trying to speak in Spanish, and this helps them to feel more confident when they speak in English.”
Auburn students who volunteer as tutors are much more to the children, providing them with role models, Yoder said.
“[Esperanza House] allows them to interact with University students and see what opportunities are available after high school graduation,” Mussell said. “Through tutoring, it helps the students to reinforce what they are learning in class and also, in certain circumstances, they get the opportunity to improve their English-speaking abilities.”
Esperaza House helps its students look toward the future, hosting college fairs and arranging campus visits to Auburn University and Southern Union Community College. They also provide families with information that, according to Yoder, helps them realize that a college education for their children is possible.
The impact of Esperanza House’s work is not limited to its students. According to Yoder, it has a great impact on the volunteers as well.
“My experience has taught me the importance of advocating for those who may not have the same resources or experiences as the typical Auburn University student,” Mussell said. “I hope to be able to continue similar work after graduation and throughout my life.”
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