Meet CC English Teacher Lea White: “I Am Very Happy to Have Found Intercambio”

Shuying and Lea
Shuying and Lea

I had no idea at the time what a positive impact becoming a CC English tutor would have on my life!

I have lived in Colorado almost continuously since I was 10 years old. I retired in 2012 after working in education for 30 years. I was a school psychologist (K-12) for 27 years. I enjoy cooking, movies, reading, knitting, creating visual arts, volunteering, gardening, and I love animals.

I first became aware of Intercambio several years ago. I had been searching for a volunteer opportunity that would be a good fit for me since retiring. So, consequently, I signed up for tutor training at Intercambio and was matched with a woman from Mexico City. She and I worked in person together for a year, and then we both moved to new homes and needed to devote our time to settling in.

In March 2022, I was contacted by CC English and asked if I was interested in volunteering to be a tutor via Zoom. That seemed like the perfect fit for me, so I eagerly said yes! I like that we can meet even if the weather is bad or if someone in either household is sick, I don’t have to worry about sharing germs.

I had no idea at the time what a positive impact becoming a CC English tutor would have on my life! My student, Shuying—from China—and I bonded quickly over Zoom and soon texted each other every day in addition to our three hours of class each week. Sometimes, we would continue our class past the hour and a half session because she had questions, or we wanted to continue our conversation. Shuying’s three-year-old son often wanted to say hello and show me his toys. He and I became fast friends when I told him about my cat and introduced them to each other on Zoom.

When it came time for our field trip lesson, Shuying and I decided to meet at the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder for lunch (we are both lovers of tea). That was our first time meeting in person. Since then, we have been guests in each other’s homes several times and have done other things together. Shuying invited me to her house for lunch in October and made a huge array of yummy Asian food. I invited the three of them to my house for Thanksgiving since they were curious about our uniquely American holiday. We celebrated our birthdays together, went swimming during the summer, have watched movies together (Chinese with English subtitles), went to holiday light displays in December, and most recently, we cooked Chinese food in my new wok at my house.

We have so much in common and feel that being matched by CC English was “fate.” I have become their son’s American “grandmother” and have a basket of toys at my house to entertain him. We feel like we’re family and are so happy to have met.

I really appreciate that Intercambio has developed the CC English program, that they are very supportive without micromanaging, and that they are flexible with how we go through the Confidence and Connections program (not too strict with timelines). Intercambio is good at communicating, without being overwhelming. I feel that the attitudes and policies of the organization are welcoming and accepting, which is very important to me in this current world climate with so much divisiveness.

I asked Shuying what she would like to advise future Intercambio teachers to consider when thinking of joining the program. She thinks it’s important for teachers to really listen to their students and to see who they are beyond the surface. My advice to prospective Intercambio teachers would be to be willing to devote the necessary time to being a good teacher. Be patient. It is also important to be flexible.

I feel so much gratitude for my life, and it is wonderful when I find opportunities to give back to the universe. I am very happy to have found Intercambio, which allows me to fulfill my desires to contribute to a better world!

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

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