Volunteer Spotlight

Reading Friend, Nithya Jambunathan began volunteering last year as a virtual Reading Friend. This is her first year being able to work with her student in-person and she is enjoying their face to face visits! Learn more about Nithya below.

How did you hear about VIPS, and what led you to becoming involved as a Reading Friend?

I heard about VIPS from another VIPS volunteer. She was an undergraduate student who was working under me on a project. I asked her to connect me with VIPS, and she did. I always wanted to do something to give back to the community. VIPS is a perfect way to give back and interacting with kids is added bonus.

Tell us about your first visit with your student. 

The first meeting with my student was last year online. It was during the pandemic time when all the classes were virtual. We had fun! 

What challenges have you faced working with your student?

During the online classes the challenge was engaging with the student. It was a bit hard to keep the excitement going when we were not face to face and the internet connection was a bit iffy at times. Now that I am reading in-person, I am able to connect better.

Sometimes, the challenge is to keep the interest of the student. I change my strategy when I feel the student is getting a bit disinterested. It is a learning process for me as well and must say a very enriching one.

What area has your student needed the most help?

My student has needed help with reading, especially the phonetics. So currently I am teaching the sounds associated with letters.

Tell us about your first successful visit with your student where you noticed her improving.

My student and I usually grab a book of her liking and she usually goes about telling the story based on the pictures. My first meeting she kept saying she can’t read, or she doesn’t know. Consecutive visits she showed enthusiasm to read and started reading slowly, although small words. The next visit, I saw more improvement in that she tried to associate sounds to the letters and tried to read. I would consider this as a successful visit. 

What has been your favorite moment with your student so far this year?

My favorite moment is when my student started opening up more to me and realized I am not there to test her. We play games of spotting words in the book and find out how many times that word had appeared in the book. We both enjoy playing this game. We take turns asking each other to spot those words.