Three young women spent the month of July teaching English to La Posada Providencia clients.
Twenty-one-year-old Alejandra de Mar of Brownsville, Texas, and 19-year-old Ileen Montemayor of San Benito, Texas, are both students at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Seventeen-year-old April Montemayor, also of San Benito, Texas, is a student at San Benito High School.
Rather than spend their summer break sitting around at home, they all chose to volunteer at La Posada.
Ileen, a future immigration attorney, heard about La Posada from her college advisor. Ileen then recruited her sister April as well as her college friend, Alejandra via a Twitter post.
Though these young women have taken few or no education classes, it did not stop them from teaching the morning and afternoon English classes — often by themselves — while Sister Thérèse Cunningham, La Posada’s ESL instructor, was in Ireland on vacation.
The experience was quite eye-opening for each one.
“I met one client who did not know how to write his name,” Alejandra said. “I am glad I was able to help teach him the alphabet and help him write his name.”
“You hear about their experiences,” April said. “It’s good knowing they are in much better hands now.”
Ileen said, “Immigrants come from everywhere. I feel non-Hispanic immigrants often get left out of the narrative.”
They all agreed that non-immigrants take so many basic things for granted.
“It’s hard to fight for yourself in court until you’ve been fed and bathed,”
The three young women will continue to volunteer at La Posada for another week before they must return to school.
For their own personal reasons, the three volunteers enjoyed volunteering at
“I am teaching the clients what I can to help them succeed on their journey,” Alejandra said. “I feel like I’m helping their lives in some small way.”
“I’m learning more about different cultures and places from hearing their stories,” April said.
“You get a lot of one-on-one with the clients,” Ileen said. “Knowing them and helping them makes you feel better and more grateful.”
Alejandra, Ileen and April believe more students should spend their summer break volunteering, especially at La Posada.
“If we had stayed home all summer, we wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it,” Ileen said. “You volunteer here and you feel like you’re summer was put to a