Volunteer Spotlight: Leonard Schlenz and Lyn Simuns

Leonard Schlenz is currently teaching his sixth group as an Intercambio school class volunteer in Lafayette. His great teaching skill, combined with his concern for his students makes him a great asset to our program.

When asked what inspires him, he says:

Despite some apprehension, I started teaching in Lafayette in January of 2012 to fill in some vacant hours afforded by retirement. I had taught school in Malaysia for a few years in the late 60’s and so—though I didn’t realize it at the time—my life was coming full circle, from teaching to teaching; and besides, Intercambio offered an opportunity to do something worthwhile. Now I use a whiteboard instead of a chalkboard, but nothing else has really changed.

            And here’s what surprised me from the very beginning: It’s fun. Each and every student has been absolutely delightful and involved, to the point that the classes practically teach themselves. What’s more, the students show up two evenings a week, sometimes after grueling work schedules and family responsibilities—more often than not without even a chance to eat dinner—smiling and cheerful.

How could I not want to be a part of this?

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Another wonderful member of our Intercambio family is Lyn Simuns, who is teaching her second group at Indian Peaks in Longmont. In addition to giving her time as a teacher, Lyn participates in many Intercambio events. One recent weekend, she attended our Volunteer Appreciation Night, joined us in cleaning up downtown Longmont, and still had energy for the Boulder dance class.

When asked about her experience with Intercambio, Lyn says,

I started volunteering with Intercambio in January of 2013 and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.  I was looking specifically for a volunteer opportunity where I could help real people help themselves, not just with financial contributions, but with real activities that would have an impact on their lives and future.  It has been so rewarding to teach a class with these individuals as they juggle jobs, families and the daunting task of learning English. To see a class full of students work so hard to become better communicators, it has inspired me to work harder to support their efforts.  I get real joy out of seeing them get a little better each class and most importantly seeing their confidence grow as they master our lessons. They are always so eager to learn, try new exercises, practice with their classmates, and help their classmates get better that it makes our classes a real highlight of my week.

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