I was speaking with one of the ESL teachers for the Survivors of Torture program through Bellevue recently. This is a wonderful volunteer program that is held here at Rennert in the evenings. Rennert donates its classrooms, and teachers volunteer their time. The teacher I was speaking to told me a story about one of her students that I found extraordinary. Her student had told her that throughout his years of torture, he worried that he might someday lose compassion for his torturers. His thinking was that all people are born innocent and good at heart, so something terrible must have happened to his torturers for them to be capable of hurting him, so he felt real compassion for them.
This made me realize the capacity of the human heart for compassion and it made me apreciate all the more this wonderful program, that gives these new immigrants an opportunity of a better life here in America. There are so many wonderful volunteer programs here in New York City and it is a great opportunity for people wanting to get into ESL; or for those who are already qualified to gain more experience; or for experienced teachers to share their expertise with people whose lives will be changed by gaining English skills.