Sandi NolanI could barely say hello or count to three in Spanish when I decided to volunteer to teach English to migrant workers from Mexico working in the Similkameen Valley.

I had just started working at our local newspaper and saw an ad looking for people to volunteer to teach English. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to move to a different country to work, learn a different culture, be away from your friends and family for months at a time and not even know how to speak the language. Since signing up to volunteer in 2012 I have made some great friends, helped some of the workers and increased my knowledge of Spanish.

Sometimes it is a little frustrating when we don’t understand each other completely but usually there is someone who can help us figure it out. Those that speak English fairly well translate back and forth. We play some games, it is a lot of fun.

As I learn more about conditions for some of the workers, I would like to help more. “When you can’t speak the language and have no one to help you how are you supposed to succeed at things here?” she said. Open a bank account, buy groceries, get a phone….

I was pleased to become one of the first directors of the newly formed El Faro Support Society for Migrant Workers.

As a non-profit society we felt we would have more credibility within the community and with farm workers.

We will be able to do so much more.