by Sus Ewing Bölke
You read in the last issue that the Book Market in January was a great success and that we raised EUR 110.00 to donate to a non-profit literacy program. In March, Shelly Schoenschoeffer and I finally managed to organize a meeting with Antje Schmidt-Kloth, Chairwoman of Mentor e.V. We handed over the money and got a chance to really talk with her about this remarkable program. Mentor e.V. is made up of hundreds of volunteers who go to schools to read to individual children after school hours. Many of these children come from homes in which they are not exposed to German at all and therefore require more support in learning to read the language. When a teacher recognizes a pupil needs more individual attention than s/he can provide, s/he informs a regional coordinator from the organization, who assigns a trained volunteer from the neighborhood to work with that child once or twice a week. For an hour each session, the two work together on reading, speaking, and getting to know each other. As you can probably imagine, this intensive work together is incredibly rewarding for both the pupil, who profits from the adult’s full personal attention, and the mentor, who can literally see the pupil learning before his or her eyes. Volunteers need no pedagogical training, only a love of reading and speaking and working with children. Mentor e.V. provides the mentors with training and counselling sessions on all relevant subjects. Shelly and I were thrilled to represent the American Women’s Club in supporting the outstanding work of Mentor e.V., and inspired to encourage all acquaintances with sufficient German and a bit of time in the afternoons to join the ranks of these dedicated volunteers. And if you already have books you’d like to donate for next winter’s Book Market, please contact one of us. May we raise even more money next year!
Originally published in the May/June 2010 issue of Currents, Vol.XXVI No. 3 "Daily Routine"