“When I was back home I heard so many things about the United States.”

September 18, 2019 at 9:30 AM | Posted in Student Stories | Comments Off on “When I was back home I heard so many things about the United States.”


This week, we would like to share Dagnachew’s words on what America means to him and his experiences living here in this community. From his interactions with classmates, we can truly see how learning English is helping people with different backgrounds and languages to connect with each other, and how our students are benefiting from this diversified community.

“When I was back home I heard so many things about the United States. Like America is for everyone and is the land of opportunity and I confirmed that I saw it in practice.

Since taking English class, I have improved my skill of communication with other people. As we know, that when we learn English in the classroom, we are talking to each other with our classmates. We come from every corner of the world. So we have different languages and accents. Due to this, there was a minor problem to understand each other. This class is very helpful for our daily life in the United States. Finally I would like to express my appreciation for our teachers: Margaret, Laura, Krista, and Wendy.”

If you like Dagnachew’s story and would like to support LCNV’s mission, start volunteering with us or make a donation today!

Join the movement to help learners like Olga

November 30, 2015 at 11:34 AM | Posted in Student Stories | Comments Off on Join the movement to help learners like Olga


Do you know what struck me on the first day of arrival in America? The willingness of people to help, good will, openness. These qualities do not cease to surprise me still.

The second discovery for me is the volunteer movement. In Ukraine, it has just begun, and I hope it becomes large like in America.

For you, the concept of freedom and democracy are not empty words. You have fought decades for them. The same thing is happening in my country which is struggling for its freedom and independence.

My dream is a strong, independent and democratic Ukraine – the same as America.

– Olga, LCNV learner

We invite you to join LCNV in the Giving Tuesday movement and help learners like Olga! We couldn’t do what we do without the help and generosity of so many others, and during this season of thanks we are especially grateful for our all of our volunteers, supporters and community. On December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

Mo Kam’s Story: “My knowledge became wider, and I became more generous”

September 16, 2015 at 3:59 PM | Posted in Student Stories | Comments Off on Mo Kam’s Story: “My knowledge became wider, and I became more generous”


My dream for my future is to speak English fluently, to read a lot of books, and to take some special classes such as computer or sewing. They will affect my decisions for the future.

In the past, I learned English to help myself to live with my family in the USA. I didn’t know how to improve my English for many years. But now I know, after studying the books… at LCNV, I feel as though my English is not the same as before. Through stories I have learned a lot about different countries and cultures. My knowledge became wider, and I became more generous.

Right now I hope my English will help me take some computer and sewing specialty classes. I’m suggesting more people to join the LCNV programs, and they’ll have a chance to fulfill their dreams like mine.

– Mo Kam

Please consider purchasing an item off of our wish list from September 21-25 through Fall into Giving, an online donation drive, to help learners like Mo Kam achieve her dreams! Thank you.

Huong’s Story: “I’ll Try and Try”

August 21, 2015 at 3:31 PM | Posted in Student Stories | Comments Off on Huong’s Story: “I’ll Try and Try”

My name is Huong. I’ve lived in the U.S. for four and a half years. My parents, my brothers and my sisters have lived here for twenty five years. They have succeeded in their lives. Before, I didn’t go with them, because I got married with a good man. We have two children. My son is 24 years old. He’s studying IT (Information Technology). He’s in his second year at NOVA. He’ll enter George Mason University next year. My daughter is 22 years old. She’s studying electrical engineering. She’s in her third year at George Mason University. I hope my children will be successful and happy in their lives in this free country.

When I was in my country, I had my own business cutting and selling glass and mirrors. I also made aluminum doors, cabinets, and wardrobes. My business was growing and I had a lot of customers. One day, my husband and I changed our minds. We decided to move to the U.S. for my children to have a better future.

When I was in my country, I had almost many things. Such as, I had a good job, a few homes and several vehicles. When I came here, I didn’t have anything. It was too hard for me. But I didn’t get discouraged. I kept trying to make my hopes and dreams become true.

At first, I studied, I got a driver’s license. I bought an old car later two and a half months I came here. And then I looked for job and I studied, I got a cosmetologist license. After I lived here three years, I bought a small townhouse. Now, I’m learning one hundred questions for the citizenship test. I hope I’ll pass citizenship this year. Then, I’ll go back to my country to visit my family in law and my friends.

I continue to study English even though I’m so busy. I hope my English improves. I’ll enter NOVA Community College. If I can, I’ll get a medical assistant’s license. I hope I’ll have a good job and good benefits future. I hope my dreams to come true. I’ll try and try.

– Huong

2015 Annual Recognition Event: Student Essay Readers

June 24, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Posted in Annual Meeting, Student Stories | Comments Off on 2015 Annual Recognition Event: Student Essay Readers

We hope you enjoyed hearing the selected student essays at the 2015 Annual Recognition Event as much as we did!

Lorena Lemus de Hernandez

Lorena Lemus de Hernandez

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.

Nansy Peta

Nansy Peta

Nansy Peta

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.

Blanca Soliz
Don’t Lose Hope!

Blanca Soliz

Student reader Blanca Soliz and LCNV Board President Kitty Porterfield

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.

Fatima’s Future: “A New World of Learning”

June 3, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Posted in Student Stories | Comments Off on Fatima’s Future: “A New World of Learning”

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.

A Second Chance of Learning

May 12, 2015 at 9:16 AM | Posted in Destination Workforce, Student Stories | Comments Off on A Second Chance of Learning

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At Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, LCNV student and GHBC staff member Jake says he “is grateful to be part of this class” and for “the opportunities to learn while we are working or after working hours.” He appreciates the help from his resident coach, Mildred (Min) Sack, how she is “very good and very supportive to me, she is always encouraging me to learn my pronunciation.” He says that “we always have a second chance of learning.”

Read Jake’s full story in his own words

Lifelong Learning Field Trip

May 8, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Posted in Family Learning, Student Stories | Comments Off on Lifelong Learning Field Trip


This week students in our Family Learning Program visited the Plum Center for Lifelong Learning.  They participated in an adult ESOL class there and met many of the students.  We hope that some of our students will graduate from our program and be able to attend Plum Center classes.

Celebrating Earth Day

April 24, 2015 at 9:31 AM | Posted in Family Learning, Student Stories | 3 Comments

Earth Day PACTOn Wednesday, learners and their children at Crestwood Elementary celebrated Earth Day with a Parent and Child Together Time (PACT). They read Handa’s Surprise, a culturally diverse children’s book, as well as planted tomato seeds in small containers to take home and observe. They also sang a song about the Earth, our planet. Happy Earth Day!

– Thanks to LCNV instructor Elizabeth Magee for sharing photos and news from Crestwood throughout the semester

“The Urge to Teach Does Not Go Away”

April 22, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Posted in Destination Workforce, Student Stories | Comments Off on “The Urge to Teach Does Not Go Away”
Coach Fred and student Larbi

Coach Fred and student Larbi

Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads and the Literacy Council have a partnership in which Goodwin House staff may take English classes at their workplace. Each participant is matched with a resident coach. Timing and choice of reading material is worked out between staff member and coach. I have the pleasure of volunteering as a coach to a Goodwin House cook, father of three, from Morocco. I call him, “my friend.” He is enthusiastic and very grateful to have this on-site opportunity to improve his reading and writing.

Fred's LCNV student Larbi

Fred’s LCNV student Larbi

Our reading time is 11am to 12pm on Tuesdays. I wear a watch so that my friend will not be late for work. Recently I noticed that it was about 11:58am so I said we needed to wrap up the session. My friend replied that it was his day off but he came to read. That’s dedication!

I was a public school history teacher from 1966 to 1999 and I loved it. I retired essentially because my school system began classes at 7:20 am, making it necessary for me to get up at 5:30. Following retirement, I tutored first and second graders in reading for six years. I retired from that volunteer work in order to travel more. Teaching is somewhat like a chronic ailment. The urge to teach does not go away. This program has enabled me to become a teacher again and I love it.

– story written by LCNV volunteer and Goodwin House resident Fred

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