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'I still can’t get over how lucky I am to be involved with PARCA.'

I still can’t get over how lucky I am to be involved with PARCA. I’d emailed Lina to ask whether she had any teaching work and as it happened she had a slot on a Tuesday so I got my volunteer teaching job straight away. I am a retired languages teacher and was missing the classroom!

My first surprise was to find that the lessons are all planned in advance, with resources and detailed outlines all waiting for me on the teachers desk! And such clever tasks too that really embed the language into the memory of the learner, through repetition.

It is a delight to be involved with PARCA and a real privilege to meet so many fascinating learners. We use the diversity of the group to learn from each other. Last week on a lesson about cooking techniques, an Iraqi had not heard of chapatis so the Pakistani and Indian found pictures and explained how to make them. She was going to make some for her family that night!

And who can forget the traditional costume our Kurdish learner wore to celebrate Kurdish Eid this year. She looked fantastic! It was a real tribute to PARCA that she chose to come to class that day, a religious festival.

Oddly enough though I arrive every Tuesday thinking it is me that is giving to them, I usually find that it is the learners who are giving to me. The positive energy in the classroom is catching.

There is laughter, little kindnesses and a real desire to learn. The class has its own identity now and the short coffee break in the middle of the lesson is full of chat which is so wonderful to see.

Working with assistants has been wonderful too. At the moment I have Mahsa and Patricia and oh my word the difference they make! They are full of fun and have spotted immediately how and where to help. Their contributions to class discussions are wonderful too as they are happy to share family stories.

Thank you PARCA, you are a shining beacon in this troubled world.

Sarah Bl

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