Every year in May the City of Berkeley hosts one of the largest book festivals in California, the Bay Area Book Festival. This popular event attracts thousands of people eager to catch a talk by their favourite author, listen to a concert or lecture, attend a book signing, browse the many book stalls or simply chill watching the many street entertainers. Our LSI Berkeley school is located right in the middle of all the fun!
Such a massive event requires lots of volunteers to help with the smooth running of the festival and LSI students are often happy to offer their services. We chatted to two LSI students, Keita Ishida from Japan and Argentinean Adrian Arrechea, about their experiences. Both students are keen to improve their English either for work or for future studies. Keita is studying at LSI for 12 weeks after which he’ll be taking up a post as a business analyst for McKinsey and Company in Tokyo. Adrian is already employed as a director in his family’s construction company but is planning to study for a Master’s degree. As Adrian is only at LSI for six weeks, he was seeking any additional opportunities to practice his English.
Keita: “I worked as a door checker at one of the book festival events at the Berkeley Veterans Memorial Building. I had to make sure visitors stayed in line and check their tickets. Because I was a volunteer, I received free tickets to the lectures. I attended two lectures, both of which were very thought provoking. The first one was led by David Wallace Wells and was about climate change. They explained how serious climate change is and how we have to act on this. I also attended Robert Reich’s lecture about economic equality, which was very inspirational so much so I bought his book, ‘The Common Good’. It was a great experience and a great way to improve my English.”
Adrian: “My role involved setting up tables and helping the symphony orchestra get their instruments ready. I volunteered because I thought it would be a good experience and help me to immerse myself in an English speaking context. It was great. The person in charge was really helpful and kind, as were all the other volunteers. I also got to hear the symphony which was fantastic.”
It seems that English learning doesn’t always have to take place in class! Volunteering provides wonderful opportunities to work in an English speaking environment, learn new skills and perhaps build new friendships. Something, I’m sure Keita (left) and Adrian (right), would heartily agree with.