Resident at Otero II Thanks Staff for Opportunity to Teach English
Here’s a letter a detainee at the Otero County Processing Center wrote to thank the facility for the opportunity he had to tutor English classes. Raphael L. Sherman
“When I started tutoring, there was no way for me to know exactly what all the course would entail. The goal was to give many of the detainees a chance to obtain an important life skill, communication, which they could use on a more practical level. Of course, with every venture in life, you will have good and bad experiences, however, it seemed many of the detainees were extremely eager to have a chance to learn a language which will benefit them in the long run.
As more detainees started to participate, I realized that I needed to better my understanding of Spanish to be of any use to them, as well as improve on my ability to speak it. The tutoring program presented me with an opportunity to achieve both of those goals. So, I dove into the water, head first, and applied myself at every chance I got. Many days I was given a chance to go to other dorms to teach English classes, and I recall the excitement I felt to be able to practice Spanish and teach English. Many of the students/detainees were greatly appreciative of this method, especially the ones who were unable to attend classes early in the morning.
Over the span of nearly eight months, I was able to provide hundreds of detainees the opportunity to participate in something that made a real difference in their lives; to be able to communicate anywhere they would eventually end up. Most importantly, I gave them the ability to feel a part of something much bigger than themselves. So many detainees left here being one step ahead of the curve, and one step closer to speaking fluent English, as well as obtaining certification (compliments of Ms. Briones), which complemented their efforts. Especially given the circumstances, they took a bad experience and used it to better themselves.
To conclude, tutoring English allowed me the opportunity to ‘change lives’ on a scale which was much, much bigger than me, certainly bigger than what I ever imagined it would be. I had the opportunity to impact lives on a much larger and personable level, to show people that even in despair you can still be able to better oneself; as long as you are willing to try there is nothing that you cannot achieve. Even if it’s hard and you are not comfortable, nothing is ever impossible.”