Jongsoo Gets a Job!

August 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Posted in ESOL, Favorite, Staff, Student Stories, Tutoring | Comments Off on Jongsoo Gets a Job!
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Our tutors are doing great work everyday, working toward their student’s goals.  Through quarterly reports and correspondence, sometimes we get to share their joy.  Please read below to share tutor, Marla Diamond’s, story about her students Jinsuk and Jongsoo:

“Jinsuk, Jongsoo’s wife, exploded with the news!  She was so excited when we spoke she could hardly speak.  Yet, she knew she was spoiling Jongsoo’s surprise of telling me first.  But who can blame her?  This has been a several-year quest.  We’re all so proud and thrilled!

Jongsoo Lim, an LCNV student for the past two years, recently got a job as an electrician with Metro.  This is an extraordinary accomplishment for him.  He was trained as an electrician in Korea, and was able to pass the exam in the U.S. to get licensed as a Master Electrician. Yet he has struggled to find full-time employment, in part because of his limited English comprehension and conversational skills which hampers his success at job interviews.  And, he has had difficulty learning electronics which has hindered him in passing exams that some employers, including Metro, require as a prerequisite to employment.

Nonetheless, Jongsoo was not to be deterred.  He has spent most of his time since arriving in the U.S. four years ago studying English and trying to learn electronics on his own.  All the while applying for whatever jobs he could find to apply his skills as an electrician.  But, he also needed to support a family.  So, he took part-time jobs (often several at the same time) regardless of whether his skills were required, to earn whatever he could.

In the two years we have studied together, Jongsoo has maintained a sense of humor and optimism that is to be respected and admired.  He felt sure that one day his efforts would reward him and he was right!  After three prior unsuccessful attempts to pass the exam with Metro, he finally passed.  That, however, did not lead to an immediate job offer.  He had to pass a practical exam, be interviewed, and fare well through reference checks; all of which generated significant anxiety for him and his family as getting this job was so critical.  In the end, Jongsoo succeeded and he began his new job in mid-June.

His job with Metro is important in so many ways.  He has a steady income and benefits that none of his part-time positions provided.  His confidence in himself has soared.  He has opportunities for promotion.  Jongsoo is already looking forward to being able to take his family back to Korea next year.  This will be their first visit since arriving in the U.S. in 2007.  Notwithstanding the sacrifices Jongsoo made to get to this point, he had to endure yet one more during his first week on the job – he missed his son’s graduation from high school.  Yet, he remains proud and happy and eager to do well and be an outstanding employee.  His American dream fulfilled. “

If you have a student success or challenge to share, please contact our program staff or comment below!

-Marla Diamond, ESLT Tutor

What’s that Library Thing?

July 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM | Posted in Favorite, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on What’s that Library Thing?
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Just a friendly reminder if you’re seeking library books from the LCNV collection but don’t live within a convenient driving distance, we can still offer books and resources to you!

1.  Library Thing

You can view a listing of everything our library has to offer including tapes and CDs!  Each item is tagged with its call number and a variety of categories that might help you identify other similar resources.  It does not show what books are checked out, but you can call (703-237-0866) or email ( to verify.

2.  Fairfax County Inter-library loan

If you live in FAirfax County, the library system has generously offered to let us send ships from Thomas Jefferson Library to other Fairfax County libraries.  We can send books to you with this system, but you still have to drop them off here at the LCNVoffice for returns.

3. After Hours Drop-box

LCNV’s office hours are 9-5 Monday through Friday when most of the metro area is also busy working or commuting.  However, to make book borrowing easier, you can return or pick up using our drop box outside the office!  Call or email the librarians for instructions!

4. Giveaway materials

Every once and a while, a tutor or teacher cleans out their home libraries and donate to LCNV.  Any redundant material, we leave out for volunteers as a giveaway.  We just got several boxes from a former ESL teacher with great titles like Longman’s Grammar Series Focus on Grammar and Cambridge University’s Clear Speech.  Feel free to stop by and see if there is anything of use for you.

I hope you’ll make use of these wonderful services and give us suggestions of books or services that might inprove our system!

-Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

This life is beautiful, but very short

February 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Posted in ESOL, Favorite, Staff, Student Stories, Teaching | Comments Off on This life is beautiful, but very short
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Who have you seen today?  I hope you exchanged smiles with at least one familiar face.  A family member, friend, coworker, someone you see at your regular stops at the cash register or bus stop.

Today, while in the halls of James Lee Community Center just outside the LCNV office, I ran into Pascual, one of my level 3 students from my teaching days that seem so long ago.  These days, I usually see him in passing as he totters to the Senior Center from the corner bus stop. He is a charming man, proud and intelligent; doing his best to compensate for a stroke that almost paralyzed his right side. He reminds me of a steadfast little tin soldier, always moving forward.  The semester I last taught him, he was going to graduate from our classroom programs. Our scholarship program wasn’t enough for him to afford Fairfax County’s Adult Community Education classes and he didn’t have use of his right hand for writing, so he stopped taking classes with us and has continued to do his best on his own.

Today, he stopped me on my way to the kitchen to define a few words he had scrawled on a paper napkin. He keeps reading, and today it was a Washington Post column on the economy.  He asked me to define “stunted,” “burbs,” and “cottage.”   It was a joy to see the “ah hah” moment pull light into his face as I answered his questions with analogies and gestures.  I miss teaching, I miss that one on one connection, and I miss learning from my students.  As we parted ways, he put on a paternal voice and said, “Thank you so much for everything.  And please remember, life is beautiful, but very very short,” as he pinched his able fingers in front of his face.  I couldn’t help but glance at the other frozen right arm, folded to his chest.  I couldn’t help but admire his constance and compassion.

These are our students.  People with amazing experience, capability and value.  These are people who generally can’t access resources of other educational organizations.  I take great pride in the being part of the LCNV community of partners, staff, and students who make our services possible; it is an amazing privilege.  Please consider volunteering, donating and referring a friend to our programs.  Thank you all and I hope you remember what Pascual said, “Life is beautiful, but very short.”

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

New Stories of Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Posted in Class, Family Learning, Favorite, Lesson Plans, Staff, Teaching, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Now that Halloween candy and costumes have disappeared from the shelves, ourthoughts turn to the next holiday on the calendar, Thanksgiving. As we plan our holiday meals,decorations, and travel plans, we might also reflect on the many Thanksgiving traditions in ourcommunities and schools. How will we share the diverse stories of Thanksgiving this year?

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter Jacqueline Jules , a local children’s book author, has written awonderful book titled Duck for Turkey Day. She says she was inspired by ESOL students whotold her that on Thanksgiving they ate food from their birth countries rather than the turkey,stuffing and cranberry sauce often associated with the holiday. That reminded her of her ownchildhood, growing up with an immigrant father. “Turkey and pumpkin were American foods that were unfamiliar to my Swiss father,” Jules recalls. “He thought turkey tasted too dry, and we often ate duck on Thanksgiving. This memorymotivated me to write a story about a little girl who is concerned because her family is planninga nontraditional meal for Thanksgiving. Since I had so many students from Vietnam at the time, Idecided to make my main character Vietnamese. My students were thrilled. They gave me advice on names for the characters and other details I used in the story.” “My students at this Fairfax County School came from over sixty different countries. Many of them did not speak English at home. But Thanksgiving is a holiday for Americans of all faithsand births. After all, it recalls the landing of the pilgrims on Plymouth Rock. In many ways, mystudents were pilgrims—people who came to America for religious freedom or to find a betterlife. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the diversity in America and that’s what I set out to do inDuck for Turkey Day.” According to the book’s synopsis, “It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner — not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving– what will her teacher and the other kids think?” The message of this story—that there aremany “right” ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, but they all have family in common—is a fresh, heartwarming take on the Thanksgiving story. Duck for Turkey Day isn’t the only children’s book offering diverse perspectives on the Thanksgiving tradition. Here are a few more to share with family and friends this year:

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

By Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr.

Written by a chief of the Mohawk nation and adorned with vibrant acrylic paintings, this story adapts the Iroquois message of thanksgiving for children.



1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill

A great choice for older children (ages 8-12), 1621, A New Look at Thanksgiving was written in collaboration with the living history museum Plimoth Plantation. The book provides the perspectives of both the English colonists and the Wampanoag people and features photos of museum reenactments.

Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan, illustrated by Alison Josephs.

Pets enjoy Thanksgiving, too! This delightful picture book gives “a dog’s ankle-high view of Thanksgiving Day in New York City” through the story of Carlos the French Bulldog’s cab ride past the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.


Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey by Joe Cowley, illustrated by Joe Cepeda.

Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey features colorful oil paintings and tells the story of a Hispanic boy, Miguel, whose father sends him a live turkey to “fatten up” for the holiday. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next!

Thank you for being

November 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Community, Community Partners, Favorite, Staff | Comments Off on Thank you for being
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I woke up feeling awful this morning, my whole body aching as I tried to do my morning stretch. My sister just got over the same cold that laid her out for almost a week of coughing, fevers and general uselessness.  “Crap, ” I thought.  “I have so much to do,”  as I thought about the training, paperwork, and other projects I had piling up on my desk.  After a cup of morning tea with my dad and a peak at the apple pie I made for today’s potluck, I thought, “I can get through aches.”

After work last night, I made a quick stop at the grocery and then spent the evening hours in the kitchen with my little sister.  A little nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves warmed my kitchen made me really excited for the potluck.  So I took some Dayquil and I got myself ready.  When I got to the office despite my cold, I got a little work in before our celebration.  When we all gathered in the classroom it was so good to see some of our alumni staff and our AmeriCorps partners from Beacon Literacy.  The holidays are such a special time to celebrate the people the shape our lives.  I’m so glad I have such a great workplace to come into every day.

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

LCNV Reunion

November 12, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Posted in Favorite, Staff | Comments Off on LCNV Reunion
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Not too long ago, we had the rare occasion to celebrate the whole staff being on site, together for the first time in over two years. Mothers and mom’s to be all in the same window of non-maternity leave. No one was away for a class, training or meeting. And most special of all, Matt was in from California! We really noticed it when we looked around the room in our staff meeting. It was really just really nice to look around and appreciate all the wonderful people I get to work with.

This week as an early holiday present, I framed an 8X10 photo that captured the day!

With the busy fall, at times, we’ve passed each other like ships in the night.  Having everyone assembled reminded me what a talented and dedicated staff I get to work with, and more importantly, the mission that holds us together.  The quality of the staff is a direct reflection of the wonderful community of volunteers and students we get to work with.  You all keep me inspired and challenged.  Thank you!

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

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