Each month we share a story of one of our learners or one of our volunteers. This month we are combining the two and sharing the beautiful story of one of our tutor pairs. As we advertise, it only takes one hour of availability per week to be an English tutor for us. A lot of our tutor pairs work together for a short time, the learner gains the independence they need, and both individuals move on – the learner to their lives, and hopefully the tutor comes back to us for a new assignment. However, sometimes these pairs are such a good match that they voluntarily continue their relationship for years, and their relationship becomes more than just one of a tutor/learner. This is one of those stories – and we are grateful to Pat and Htoo for letting us share it.
This story begins in 2018. Pat’s son had a hard time reading when he was young, and they had gotten him extra help. Pat wanted to do something similar to give back to the community. Thankfully for us, she saw that we were conducting a tutor orientation, and she signed up! She was the only person to sign up that day, and she was quickly matched with Htoo. At the time Htoo had been in the United States for a while and she was working full time. She had a good English foundation but needed help at the sentence level. Pat says they had immediate rapport – “Htoo has always been easy to love and work with – she’s so fun and we laugh together all the time!” Htoo was also very dedicated to learning – they immediately started meeting for two hours twice a week. Shortly after they started meeting, Htoo became eligible for Citizenship, and they began to study together. Pat said her favorite memory of studying for citizenship was when they got to the question “Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?” – without hesitation Htoo confidentially answered “Tammy Baldwin!” That became a private joke between them that they still enjoy to this day. Htoo passed her Citizenship test on the first try with flying colors. Pat was there with her that day and got to listen when Htoo called her Mom back in her home country to share the good news. Htoo’s Mom is so happy and grateful for Pat’s support for her daughter.
Htoo met her husband here in Oshkosh. When Htoo got married, she asked Pat to stand up for her in the wedding. When Htoo and her husband were ready to buy a home, Pat put them in touch with her husband’s nephew, a realtor, who was happy to help them. And when it was time for them to start a family, Htoo asked Pat to be with her in the delivery room along with her husband. When their second baby came it was Pat that drove her to the hospital through a snowstorm while Dad stayed home with their older child. Pat got to cut the umbilical cord, and then she found out that Htoo had another surprise – they named this baby Nawpattyhtoo, after Pat. (pronounced “Naw Patty To”) She could not be more honored.
These days Pat and Htoo are still meeting regularly to work on conversational English – and to enjoy each other’s company. Htoo and her husband always have snacks ready for Pat, who loves to play with the children. She also loves to hear about their families back home. It is heartwarming to see the relationship that these two women have built, and how much they have learned and grown together. Thank you again Htoo and Pat for allowing us to share your story. Please keep us updated as your journey continues.