Baylor Engaged: Elizabeth Siatkowski
What does it mean to “learn for the world”? I wasn’t quite sure when I first registered for Learning for the World (LFTW) last fall. I had received an email encouraging me to do so, and I jumped at the opportunity after reading its mention of an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching experience. As somebody who is both fascinated by language and hopes to become an educator, I was eager to begin the course, but I didn’t know what exactly to expect from it. As my semester in LFTW is coming to a close, I can confidently say that LFTW is a course that, above all, aims to equip students on their path to becoming informed, engaged citizens.
LFTW’s ESL volunteer experience is what initially drew me to the course, and it has proven to be one of the biggest highlights of my semester! Each week, LFTW students spend time with English learners at McLennan Community College. During a typical class meeting at MCC, we help students with pronunciation, assist MCC’s instructors by leading classroom activities, and simply just engage in conversation with the students. Though working around a language barrier can pose challenges, this barrier is far from impeding the formation of relationships. I have been so fortunate to get to know the class of ESL learners with which I have worked – the students are incredibly kind, motivated, and hardworking individuals, and I look forward to seeing them every week. I can say the same about MCC’s instructors. Their dedication to their work is evident – they planned countless games and activities and even an end-of-semester celebration to ensure that we enjoyed our time in their class. Seeing these educators in action has been especially impactful for me. I hope to become an educator myself, and the ESL classroom has opened my eyes to an entirely different area of teaching. Because of my experience in LFTW, I am now strongly considering a career in second-language education.
However, LFTW offers much more beyond its ESL volunteering experience. Each week of the class is devoted to a different way to “learn for the world” – study abroad, research, community engagement, mentorship, and scholarship through major fellowships, to name a few. On the note of this last theme, the amazing LFTW faculty members lead the class through the process of applying for major awards, such as the Fulbright, Truman, and Marshall, during the course of the semester. Thanks to their guidance, I have completed an entire mock application, which I anticipate will be of great use as I enter my last two years at Baylor! This opportunity alone is incredible, and I would highly recommend LFTW to any student who is interested in a major fellowship. In fact, I would recommend LFTW to anybody who is even slightly interested in any of its components – it truly offers something for everybody. I especially encourage those who anticipate entering a public service profession to consider taking LFTW. Whether you want to teach, enter the healthcare field, work on Capitol Hill, or simply orient your career toward the good of those around you, LFTW will support you on your way. After all, that’s what it means to “learn for the world” – to learn in a way that allows you to serve your community well.