Volunteer Spotlight: Ron

Meet Ron Rohrssen, English & Citizenship Tutor

Ron has been volunteering at CMC for almost seven years. Now retired from the IT field, he continues to stay involved in running his own businesses and volunteering every week.

He was inspired to volunteer through work he was doing with his church, where he became interested in looking for ways to help refugees settle into the community. “I’d like to think that I help make it a little bit more inviting and friendly for people who are coming here with refugee status,” Ron says.

During his time as a tutor, Ron has worked with numerous students, both in learning English as a Second Language and in preparing for the U.S. citizenship exam. “I teach English classes, typically one-on-one, although sometimes it might be a husband and wife,” he says. “ I also teach citizenship.” So far, Ron has provided nearly 250 hours of tutoring at CMC!

While he finds teaching both study areas equally rewarding, he particularly acknowledges the complexities involved in learning U.S. history and civics that are essential for the citizenship exam. He says, “I find them both very rewarding. The thing about teaching citizenship is I realize how little the average citizen actually knows [citizenship exam answers].”

Like many tutors, Ron goes above and beyond providing learning support. Tutors and students exchange stories, personal experiences, and form real friendships. For Ron, he says, “It’s a chance to work with people who I feel like don’t have a lot of connections with American people. They come here and I think they’re in a lot of cases isolated because of language and cultural barriers. So, it’s a chance to interact with them and get to know them.”

When students run into obstacles in daily life, tutors help them find a way to navigate it. For instance, Ron has been tutoring a couple from Angola whom he has been working with closely since shortly after they arrived in the U.S. He was initially concerned when they shared that they didn’t have food, but the couple realized their message had been misunderstood, and their true desire was for African cuisine

Once Ron realized this, he explains, “I was able to find a Hy-Vee flyer and they quickly and excitedly pointed out several things that they were longing to have. They just didn’t know the words for them; they didn’t know how to ask how to find them. So, they were very excited to find out that those foods, those vegetables especially, were available here locally.”

Ron sees himself staying involved like he is, as he likes the balance between tutoring and his other commitments. He encourages others to “Just do it, give it a try! I think you would be surprised how much more you know than you think you do about teaching someone English.”

Thank you, Ron!