This month’s thought leader piece is by New AP Board Member, John Pinkard. John joined the New American Pathways’ Board of Directors in 2018. He has volunteered with the Clarkston community since 2012 through All Saints’ Episcopal Church and currently facilitates a Saturday morning tutoring group open to New American Pathways volunteers and All Saints’ parishioners. John currently works in the McDonald’s Division at Coca-Cola and is a co-founder of the Curren Foundation which is dedicated to raising awareness for paraneoplastic syndrome.
As we near the end of the year, the word “generosity” tends to increase exponentially in usage. If you’re like me, “generosity” probably conveys a notion of financial giving, but I’m increasingly learning that it can be defined by the time we give as well.
I started volunteering with the refugee community through All Saints’ Refugee Ministries about seven years ago. For an hour a week, I’ve provided at-home English tutoring for members of the Nepali and Congolese communities. While it sounds like a brief window of time, I’ve fostered great friendships through this experience, both with our neighbors in Clarkston and with my fellow volunteers.
In fact, my Saturday mornings in Clarkston have become the highlights of my week. In my current Nepali group, we work on homework and reading with 17 Nepali children (ranging in ages from 2-12). Ideally, our students bring their homework (especially reading) that may be unfamiliar to their parents. It’s been an eye opener to revisit some of the concepts that I learned in grade school and always amazing to see how fast our students pick up on these concepts with a little help. While some might describe our tutoring sessions a bit chaotic (again 17 children spanning 10 years in ages), I enjoy the “organized” chaos as a welcome reprieve from my normal day-to-day structured life.
These students are truly Americans who are bridging the gap for their parents and loved ones (and often help translate for their households). I’d like to think they benefit from having a few long-time American friends to ask questions and adjust to a culture that is familiar to them that oftentimes is completely foreign to their parents. At the end our tutoring sessions, we enjoy snacks, play on the family’s playground and sometime even make slime or have a doughnut party. I’m always filled with hope for our community and nation as we leave at the end of each Saturday’s session. New American Pathways has helped me grow our tutoring program by referring volunteers.
During this season of giving, consider joining New AP as a volunteer, or join our group on Saturday mornings. And as we approach Georgia Gives Day on December 3rd, please consider a financial gift to New American Pathways. I believe in the mission of New AP and have seen its impact firsthand. Even small donations of funds and time can make a big difference!