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CWW Vol- James Drew 20220205-3307 (LowRes).jpg

james drew

English as a second language

Westwood shade tree advisory committee

Editor's note:  This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

I guess I started volunteering with the ESL program about 15 years ago.. And I just thought it was just an interesting way to get to know somebody from another country and to also be able to help them which was a great opportunity. I was also a volunteer with the Shade Tree Comission.  


I was special education teacher for 27 years and so I guess, there is a connection between my career and volunteering with ESL.  I estimate I’ve worked with 20 or so students in the ESL program from all over the world since I started.   Many are from Mexico, Latin America, South America. And in fact, I'm getting a new student Monday from Syria. That’lll be a change for me and then be very interesting, I think.


I was invited to a wedding of one fellow who got married here and he worked for one of the coffee places.  Sometimes the students return to their home country so it makes it difficult to stay in touch.  


My thoughts on volunteering in Westwood?  It's a win win. It's very rewarding. It's gives you extra meaning.  Not only for the person you're attempting to help but also for yourself. In fact, I encourage some of my friends who are retired from teaching to get involved with the ESL program.  It's completely different. I mean, it's generally one on one and, if you're a teacher, and you like to be in a position to help somebody in that way  it's wonderful. But also, it’s a limited amount of volunteer time. You can choose the amount of hours you want to do, and it is just so, so rewarding. 


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