The program — also known as SWAP — began in the fall of 2008 as a way to help CU-Boulder staff learn practical English, said Tim Jenkins, the program’s volunteer coordinator. The free service pairs predominantly student volunteers with CU employees who are looking to improve their everyday English.
“After four successful years and steady growth, the program will expand its offerings to include GED prep and support,” Jenkins said. “Right now we focus on going to the store, talking to doctors, real-life situational English used on a day to day basis.
CU sophomore Cassiane Cladis, a SWAP volunteer, said some of the employees taking advantage of the current program have requested GED and education support.
“I think SWAP does a great job of listening to them and making these things available,” Cladis said.
Cladis has been working with an employee who works in the University Memorial Center since the fall. Cladis said the program is a fun, informal way for students to help employees to improve their English skills.
“A lot of the participants know some English but they don’t always have the confidence to speak it,” Cladis said.
Jenkins said they are serving about 65 employees this spring. With more than 90 volunteers on standby, the program will continue to accept CU staff this semester.
Jenkins said the overwhelming response from volunteers will allow the program to continue to expand its offerings in the future.
Jenkins is considering a partnership with CU’s day care center to break down language and cultural barriers early on, an idea that remains only a discussion for now, he said.