We hope you enjoyed hearing the selected student essays at the 2015 Annual Recognition Event as much as we did!
Lorena Lemus de Hernandez
When I came to United States three years ago I was so excited because one of my dream was to work as a nurse, but I never realized that it would be so difficult. Why? Because I didn’t speak English as well as needed to work as a nurse I was so desperate for a long time. One day I said to myself I’m going to improve my English no matter how hard it is and one day I’m going to get my goal because “English” will open the door. So I started to look forward to where and who can help me I kept going. The teacher that Literacy Council got me is the best. She is not only my teacher she is my friend who I can trust she helps me a lot. My English is getting better now little by little and one day my dream will come true.
My name is Nansy. I am from Sudan. In my home country I went to school and after school I got married. I love my country because I had a beautiful family. People in country are very nice. In my country people eat fresh food every day. Everybody is friendly in my country, but there is no freedom for women. In my country the freedom is only for men. Women can’t speak up. You can’t make decisions if you are a woman or a girl.
I came to the U.S. for a better life. Life over there is very hard. Sometimes people can’t finish their education because they have no money. Here you have an opportunity to go to school and to eat whatever you want in this country. I want to go to school. I want to be proud when I go back to my country and show them that I got a degree from America. I want to open a school in my country. The first thing I would like would be to open a shelter because now some children don’t have food. That is my hope for my future and it begins with English class.
Don’t Lose Hope!
I was a teacher for 22 years in Bolivia. When I came to USA in 2007 I wanted to work immediately as my parents always did. After 2 months I found a job in Hyatt Hotel in Reston as a dish washer. I tried to do my best in this job but I never lost my hope of returning to work with children. Also, I was pretty sure that I have to learn English first. Then after one year I found on the internet a job as a teacher assistant in the Argentina school in Maryland. Was far for me because I was living in Reston, but my hope to work as a teacher was bigger than the distance. I went to just one time as a teacher assistance then the principal offer me a job as a Spanish teacher of first grade. It was wonderful! I worked in this school around 2 years. The most important thing to me was I don’t need English for this position but I learned that I need English for communicating with the parents because most of the parents didn’t talk Spanish. Since then I try reading everything that I saw. Also I went to some Church to learn English. I used youtube to find some grammer classes in English. After that in the Craiglist website I found another job as a leader teacher in preschool in Falls Church. This was near to my house. For this reason I decided to change jobs.
Now, I work in Communikids as Spanish teacher around four years. And also I moved from Reston to Vienna. Now my job is near to my house. Also I give tutoring classes for reading and writing in Spanish for kids.
I know I don’t have enough time to learn and practice English but I try everytime that I can. I know learning English is too hard for my age but it is not an obstacle for me. My goal is to learn English well. I want to say to everybody that nothing is impossible, yes there are things along the way like the English language, but you can study. Now I feel better than seven years ago. I just want to say thanks for my job, thanks for my health, and thanks for knowing Dorothy who is my English tutor and thanks for my family.
See the full program book with even more student essays, the list of volunteer service anniversaries (ranging from 5 years to 30 years of service!), those recognized as volunteer of the year, and all of the nominations for outstanding student, teacher, and tutor.
When Fatima first came to the United States, she didn’t have any education, work experience, or speak any English. As a child in Morocco she was unable to attend school. Fatima says that whenever she thinks of those days, “my heart still hurts.”
After arriving in this country with no language or literacy skills, she says that “the first year was very hard for me.” Despite these challenges, Fatima has become an exemplary learner and achieved a great deal. She has demonstrated commitment to achieving her goals and true determination to learn.
Fatima found the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) in 2011 after hearing about the organization from a friend. With help from LCNV instructors Connie Bernhardt, Ruth Hansen, and Mickey Schulman, she could soon hold simple conversations. She found a job at a restaurant, taking on increasing responsibilities over time. “Now she speaks English very clearly and converses readily on many topics,” according to her tutor Ruth.
Fatima set herself the goal of becoming a U.S. Citizen. While diligently studying for the naturalization test, she went beyond simply memorizing answers to questions. Ruth explains how Fatima also wanted to understand their meaning to Americans, and “by taking a real interest in the history of America and the culture of her new country, she found a new world of learning.”
After becoming a U.S. citizen in December 2014, Fatima says, “I’m so happy my dream came true…If you work hard you could or will achieve your dreams and will have a successful life… Now I’m thankful to my teacher Mrs. Ruth for all the hard work she did with me. I’m very thankful to teachers Connie and Mickey. Finally thank you to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia for the best program ever.”
Along with being such a strong student, her instructor Connie explains that Fatima is also a special person. “People can’t help but notice the aura of peace and kindness that surrounds Fatima. She listens attentively and responds with great empathy to the cares and concerns of others. She also looks for ways to help whenever she can,” says Connie. Because of her commitment and dedication, “there’s no limit to what Fatima can achieve.”
Fatima is working towards achieving her next goal of obtaining a driver’s license. She is also studying Arabic literacy on her own through an educational TV program, so she is learning to read and write in her native language for the first time.
“With the help of LCNV and the support of her family, Fatima is truly transforming her life,” says Ruth.
Please consider donating online to LCNV on June 4 through Do More 24 to help learners like Fatima achieve their dreams! By participating in this local, 24-hour online fundraising event you’ll help LCNV become eligible to win extra cash prizes. Thank you!
Thanks also to tutor Ruth Hansen, instructor Connie Bernhardt, and Fatima for contributing to this incredible success story.