Learning: A Life-Long Journey

April 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Learning: A Life-Long Journey

Severina and Nora, LCNV learners at Lincolnia Senior Center

I have a wonderful level 3 class that I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Lincolnia Senior Center in Alexandria, VA. This class inspires me every day and challenges me to be a better teacher. This class is such a compassionate group of individuals that really want to learn not just English, but learn about and from each other. Two students who really stood out to me on my first day of teaching there were Severina and Nora, who happen to be best friends. I would like to share their stories and some of their own writing.

Nora is 63 years old and from Peru. She has been living in the United States for 11 years. She taught Elementary School in Peru for over 30 years, and now she works with the daycare at Lincolnia Senior Center. She said “my biggest accomplishments are my three daughters, my grandson, and now learning English. I want to thank the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia for teaching my English.” To have an amazing educator who has been teaching for more than 40 years thank me and the Council is very humbling. It is amazing how the education comes around full circle, where the teacher learns just as much from the student as the student learns from the teacher.

Severina is 84 years old and is from Bolivia. She has been living here for eight years. Severina was a very famous woman and piano player in Bolivia. She was in the newspaper every week for her music. She received a national award for higher education from the government of Peru and was decorated with many other accolades. In 1983, Severina founded a music school for children who were gifted with, what she says, “a good ear and beat for music.” She taught and supervised this school. Many famous musical artists came from this school, such as Surimana Bolivia, which is an extremely famous band in Bolivia currently. Her daughter works in D.C. as a representative for international affairs and was recently decorated by the U.S. government for her work in Latin American Women International Affairs Aid. She is extremely proud of her three children because they are “professionals” as she puts it. 

Severina came to the U.S. after a divorce, leaving most of her family to find a new beginning. I asked her to write a letter about her new beginnings, and this is what she wrote, “I decided to learn English better and register with Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. Learning English gave me new opportunities in my life. I started talking to my neighbors. I met new friends in Linconia Senior Center. Now I teach [free] piano and Spanish classes in the center. The amazing thing is that at my age, I found Richard. We share many moments together. On weekends we go to concerts. After that he invites me to dinner. The month of August we traveled to Bolivia to meet my family,and  in December we traveled to Kansas City to meet his family. Both families share our happiness. Now we are looking for the appropriate time to get married and to make our dreams a reality: to achieve a complete happiness forever with God’s blessing.”

Learning is a life-long journey and these two students show that it doesn’t matter your age, you never stop learning. To be able to teach these two amazing women English is my pleasure. I am the one who is lucky to have them to learn from. In the last class Severina told me, “I love to give advice to the younger people. Everything happens for a reason. Look at my life, I was meant to come here. You prepare your life.”

Katherine Lee, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

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