Juliana Santos grew up in Brazil. As a girl in her home country, she learned English and experienced difficulties that many of our students face. As an adult in Brazil, she taught English. When she and her husband moved to Seattle less than two years ago, she was introduced to Seattle Goodwill through a new friend who was taking classes. In February of 2015, she began volunteering in our Seattle Job Training and Education (JTE) Center, and has since donated over 600 hours of her time. Seattle JTE Instructor Scott Rice said of Juliana’s volunteer service, “Juliana is reliable, creative, and passionate in her volunteer work. She brings a wealth of experience and regularly impacts our learning community in dramatic ways. Juliana has been an invaluable resource for Seattle JTE. She’s also just plain awesome.”
Juliana has volunteered in a number of different ways, but has focused much of her time into tutoring and facilitating lunchtime conversations—a practical way for our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students to apply what they’ve learned in classes. “It’s all about the students,” she said. “It’s all about what they need, and what they want to talk about. It’s all about helping them feel comfortable.” She engages them by asking questions, and inviting them to ask questions of her and other students—and share about themselves and their home countries.
With experience as an English language learner, she has a unique perspective on what our students are going through. “I relate a lot to the students here, because I had difficulties learning English,” she explained. “I studied English for a long time, and I know how hard it is—and that it can be embarrassing and frustrating. I get that coming to a new country, you have to reinvent yourself, and it’s not easy. Some of the students are skilled and have master’s degrees in their home countries, but here they have to start all over. Not being able to communicate well, and saying what you want to say, can be really hard and frustrating.”
As a veteran Seattle JTE volunteer, Juliana sees and understands the positive impact that Goodwill programs have on student’s every day, and has recently joined the Goodwill Ambassador (GA) volunteer cohort to share that message. GAs represent the Goodwill mission by speaking to local groups, attending events, sharing their volunteer story, and encouraging others to get involved. “I really believe in the work that we do,” she said. “Everybody—the students, staff, and teachers—are having a positive effect on students’ lives. It’s amazing when you get to see people getting their first job, getting their GED, getting their diploma, getting what they came here to get—you see the results every day.”
She is passionate about helping people, and that is evident in how she helps students. “I really like working with people,” she said. “I think education is one of the most fundamental and important thing in everyone’s life. That’s why I love helping the students.”