Board Member Interview: Genevieve Lyons

What brought you to Turning Pages?

I came to Turning Pages in 2009 as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I was the volunteer manager, so I recruited, trained, and matched volunteers with learners. I also did some tutoring, a bit of web design, and some PR/outreach. I joined the board in 2011. I’m on the PR/Communications subcommittee and I run this website, the PayPal account, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

What is one of your best “success” moments at Turning Pages?

I used to get nervous for tutor training, to speak in front of a group of people, with any kind of authority. When I was a VISTA I had just graduated from college, and 80% of the volunteers were much older than me. I would spend a lot of time prepping everything I’d say, and hoping for no curveballs. But eventually I got used to it and learned to go with the flow. One day I had about 10 trainees, having a really good discussion, and I just realized that I felt completely at ease and the group was right on track.

Tell us about a challenge and how you negotiated it.

One of the most interesting and challenging things I did was tutor a woman in English as a Second Language. She was well educated in her home country, holding a Master’s degree, but she needed to improve her English to find work here. She was taking a college-level English course at the community college. Tutoring ESL is tough, and makes you look at your own language in new ways. For example, discussing the symbolism and shades of meaning for college-level English, to someone from another culture, was hard! But she also taught me about literary symbolism in her culture.  This learner was so determined, and it was so satisfying to learn that she passed the class.

What is your favorite thing about Turning Pages?

Staying involved with Turning Pages has kept me integrated in a really great community, has broadened my perspective, and helped me meet fantastic people. Professionally it’s been great, too because as a VISTA (and at an under-resourced nonprofit in general) you really get experience that you wouldn’t get in an entry-level job. Also, I got to work with AmeriCorps members at other agencies in Columbia, and as a result I learned a lot about the non-profit world. I would reco

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Turning Pages?

You can find me reading, drinking coffee, running at the riverwalk, or making a mess in my kitchen.

Are you reading anything good lately?

Nonfiction: I recently finished Orange is the New Black. It was fascinating. Highly recommend.

Fiction: Little Bee by Chris Cleave. It is quite a story but the whole thing hinges on not giving away anything about the plot.

What is your favorite book now? From childhood?

My favorite books from childhood are still some of my favorite books. I loved From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitsugh, and anything by Roald Dahl or Beverly Cleary. The ‘adult’ books I’ve liked best are The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn, and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

If you could have lunch with one author, living or dead, who would it be?

I would have to choose J. K. Rowling, or Howard Zinn. I always wanted to take one of his history classes at Boston University.

If you had to choose between visiting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, which would it be?

I’d have to check out Hogwarts. I’d really like to fly a broom.

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