This month’s Ambassadors of the Month are two of the individuals who supported Cycle 7 of InStepp’s Citizenship Instruction Program that ended on June 11th: Ian McPherson and David Dusto.
Ian McPherson grew up in Whiteville, North Carolina which is close to the coast. He is now located in Raleigh with his partner, Erika, and pup, Lady Grantham. He works at United Church of Chapel Hill as a Minister for Youth and Young Adult Initiatives. In his free time, he likes to read, try new coffee shops and breweries in The Triangle and take Lady Grantham to the park for long walks. If you asked the people closest to Ian to describe him they would say reflective, bookish and a bit silly at times.
Ian began his volunteer journey with InStepp in the spring of 2018. He started volunteering with the Citizenship Instruction Program (CIP) so that he could better support the newest members of his community. He is no stranger to volunteering as he helped out his church’s soup kitchen while he was in seminary in New York City. Before that, he took on a year-long commitment with a voluntary service working with an after-school program in Washington D.C.
Ian is inspired by witnessing the increased confidence that participants gained through the CIP program. He is part of a community that they are building together which isn’t something a lot of people can say. During his work, the highlight would be when the CIP participants took part in a potluck. The food they shared was from their respective cultures. His remark about this event was “the abundance of this welcome table truly signified what this country can be at its best.”
His advice for future volunteers is simple but essential. “Have fun! Take the work seriously, but laugh a lot too! The connections and community built will be worth every minute of preparation.”
He also wants to thank Gilda for the opportunity. “InStepp is doing important and incredible work, and I hope that it continues to expand.”
David Dusto was born in upstate New York and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has had the opportunity to also live in England and Japan. David says he is fortunate to have his parents living close by him in Cary. He has two sisters who live out of state with several nieces and nephews, and he finds joy in being an uncle. In his free time, David enjoys geocaching, hiking, playing games, getting creative with photography and mixology. In his professional life, he works as a professional software trainer and technology project consultant.
David started his journey with InStepp also in the spring of 2018. In his work with CIP, he facilitated several classes to help Legal Permanent Residents prepare to take and pass the citizenship test to become U.S. citizens. He was interested in volunteering at InStepp because he is a lifelong educator and loves to use that to help others. The timing was excellent because he was between work and set out to find activities to fill his time. He has also taken an interest in promoting good citizenship and U.S. History which made this opportunity an incredible hit. He is inspired by the courage it takes for immigrants to leave their native country and go to a new place and sometimes even have to learn a new language.
David’s work with the CIP has changed him personally because he has gotten the chance to see what America looks like from the perspective of his students. His interactions with the CIP participants has made him more aware that the freedoms and privileges we enjoy in the U.S. is something that most Americans take for granted. He has also been surprised that CIP learners must know the answers to questions about U.S. history and government that a significant percentage of people born in the U.S. would not be able to answer correctly.
His advice for future InStepp volunteers is “be patient, and keep a good sense of humor! If you clearly enjoy the volunteer work, the people you are helping will enjoy it, too.”
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” -Aristotle