By Manny Cantor Center | In Archive | on October 22, 2019

Claudio has been volunteering at MCC for two years leading the English Conversation Group for Older Adults and helping at Civic Engagement events. The group provides a space for students to practice their English outside of the ESOL classroom. Claudio goes above and beyond what his original volunteer role was, taking the lead on facilitating the group, preparing and leading discussions each week and providing opportunity for community members to feel comfortable with their English practice!

Read about his experience in his own words:

What brought you to volunteering at MCC?

I live close-by and to go to MCC for the gym. And then after going to the gym I learned that there were possibilities for volunteers. I found out that there was this possibility to volunteer with Basic English conversation for seniors, so I went to the class for a while to see what it was. I kept going until I was the lead volunteer.

What has your experience been like?

It has been very rewarding. I feel a relationship with these people. I am someone who came to this country without real proper English language knowledge. At school in Italy, we were taught Latin and Greek and I took French but everyone spoke some English because of the geography in Europe. Little by little by traveling and reading I have figured out my own English. I found that this is what they really need. We are going to teach them some English that makes their daily lives easier. I remember reading the New York Times every day and underlining the words I did not understand, and then going back after I read the article and looking up the words in the dictionary. I try to do the same thing for them, so we start from a newspaper article and take one topic, read it, and talk about what we understand and we do not understand.

What does being a volunteer mean to you?

Being a volunteer is a nice way to help somebody with no strings attached. I don’t care about a career or payment, I am not here for that. At this point in my life I like to make people happy, and show them that sometimes things are not easy or straightforward. Here is an opportunity to do that.

Do you have a favorite story or anecdote from volunteering?

One of the students in my class, who lives alone, and has little contact with other English speakers came to me. She said “This is an English Conversation class, you are making us read and we do not want to read”. After this remark, she taught me to start by asking the class, what they know about the topic we are going to discuss. Now, we start with 15 minutes of discussion, then we read for another 15 minutes, and then go back to a discussion about what we have learned.

Tell us one fun fact about you?

As a hobby I repair rugs.


As a changemaker, volunteers are part of a movement of engaged New Yorkers taking action to strengthen Lower East Side and beyond. Our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members get involved, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make at the Manny Cantor Center and in the community. Thank you to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the neighborhood we want to live in.

If you are interested in volunteering or getting involved with us here at Manny Cantor Center, we have opportunities available for a variety of schedules and interests. Learn more about about being a Volunteer Changemaker at MCC here.

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