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A Conversation with CC English Teacher Joel Feldman

Joel Feldman

I am an attorney from the Philadelphia area and after the death of our 21-year-old daughter Casey, my wife and I established the Casey Feldman Foundation. Casey was killed by a distracted driver and we work to reduce distracted driving crashes. We also provide scholarships for CU Boulder students who choose to do internships at nonprofits.

Several years ago, one of our CU scholarship awardees chose an internship at Intercambio. We attended an event and heard her speak about her experience. She raved about Intercambio and we also met her supervisor at the event. We knew immediately that we wanted to do more to help.

Volunteering as a teacher was outside my comfort zone and, initially, I was anxious about teaching. However, the materials were very helpful—well organized, well thought out, and made it easy to be a good teacher.

About a year ago I was paired with a student, Juan. Juan wants to improve his English to be able to apply for jobs with better futures. Juan is very diligent and always does his homework! We talk about our families, politics, work, food and recipes, climate change, and his English has rapidly improved. Early on I told him about Casey’s death and, even though his English was very limited, he clearly indicated how sorry he was for our loss. Communication of genuine empathy and compassion does not require mastery of a language.

I discuss my distracted driving work with Juan and he has been urging me to make some of our public service video announcements (PSAs) in Spanish. As a result, in December this PSA will be reshot with Spanish-speaking actors. Our programs will be much better because of Juan’s suggestions.

Our distracted driving programs are conducted through EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving). I speak regularly across the country at schools, businesses, and conferences. In addition to working with teens, we have also developed the first-of-its-kind K-2 distracted driving picture book and grades 2-5 lesson plans. We have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to remember Casey by working to keep other young people safe from distracted driving.

I so appreciate Intercambio giving me the opportunity to have a meaningful impact in Juan’s life. I very much look forward to working with my new friend twice a week.

Interested in teaching English? Become a CC English teacher today!

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