Success Story: Michee & Jeff

In our April tutoring success story (also featured in Midcoast Literacy's e-mail newsletter) we’re focusing on English language learner Michee and his tutor Jeff.

Michee Mpela for newsletter

Michee is a New Mainer who arrived with his family in Brunswick in 2019. He and tutor Jeff Pidot began working together this past January. Unlike many of the New Mainers we work with, Michee’s conversational English is quite good; in Jeff’s words: “He is already a very advanced student.” But Michee still wanted to get a tutor so he could improve further. “For me, to have a tutor is a good option so I can get more familiar with American English,” Michee says. “Sometimes before, to understand somebody who was an English speaker, I would need to hear something two times. Right now, with my tutor, I can understand from hearing once.”

Michee and Jeff have had a successful tutoring partnership in part because they share a vocation: Jeff is a retired lawyer and Michee aspires to practice law as well. “Michee is a pleasure to work with,” says Jeff. “Most of our readings and discussions together have focused on American government. I have tried to present to him the pros and cons of the American legal system, which of course he has also personally experienced in his time here. I am pleased and proud to be one of the many friends Michee has made in the United States.” After regular sessions with Jeff, Michee is feeling more confident in his English. “With some of the volunteer people in Brunswick, it may be easier [to speak]. But now, I can break that barrier to go outside talking with Americans I don’t know and we can have some understanding. So, having a tutor is helping me a lot.”

Highlighting Michee’s story during National Volunteer Week is very appropriate, since besides learning from a volunteer tutor, Jeff, Michee is also a volunteer himself as a translator. “I started volunteering because when people need to understand and [other translators] aren’t around, I can just jump in and help,” says Michee. He now translates for other New Mainers at weekly community meetings, Midcoast Literacy conversation practices, and as a volunteer at the COVID vaccination clinic at The Landing. Congratulations to Jeff and Michee for showing us how much even advanced students benefit from work with a tutor, and keep following us for more success stories from our tutors throughout the year!