Why Learning is Important to Me
Article from Burke Literacy Council student
When I started to school they didn't have kindergarten then. I felt very lonely. I couldn't relate to the other children because I wasn't as bright as them. I felt ashamed of myself because I couldn't catch on to the reading. And each year the classes got a lot harder than the first year. And I felt more ashamed of myself and very alone. I stayed in my own little world.
I didn't get any help until I was in tenth grade. I dropped out of school. I was too scared to go on. I couldn't read or write. And I was tired of listening to people call me stupid and dummy. It was enough to listen to my own family tease me.
After I quit school I was asked to babysit my cousin and niece. Then I was asked to take care of my grandmother who had broken her hip. Since I couldn't read, I had to learn how to compromise. I compared colors and shapes of the pills. I kept my reading disability to myself because some of my other family members didn't know I couldn't read.
I also worked in a restaurant. I took orders and took care of the money and opened and locked up. And it wasn't easy and by luck I didn't come up short on money. When I took the orders I used letters and pictures to help me to remember and then I would dispose of them to keep my job. If my employer knew, I would lose my job because I didn't tell them I couldn't read or write.
I admitted to myself I needed help when my son started school and I couldn't help him to read. People don't realize how hard it is to not be able to read with your child, a short story, or a letter. I was very ashamed to let my son see me that way. I heard about Burke Literacy Council years later and I went to see if they could help me to read. I wished I would have known a lot earlier about them. They helped me to find a good tutor and now I can read a lot better and write. I am not ashamed of myself and I can ready more every day!
English as a Second Language
Testimonies shared by Project FLOWER and Project Citizenship participants
My name is Rosalena. I have come to this program to learn how to speak, write, and read English better. My dream is to someday get my GED. This class has helped me a lot with my writing. I can make appointments now. I can read books to my children in English. And I can help my children with their homework. I am happy to have this class to help me. Thank you so much for the teachers and this class. I am so happy that I can bring my daughter to class too. She is three and she is learning English now. Now we can read books together, and she loves to come to school.
Manuel came to the United States from Guatemala in the 1990's. He came knowing little English, with very limited schooling, few job skills, but a very strong work ethic. Manuel knew that if he wanted to achieve a better life for himself and his future family, he would need more education. His long term goal was to attend college but first, he needed to get his GED.
Manuel's broken English and low literacy skills prevented him from entering a traditional GED program. He contacted the Burke Literacy Council and was matched with an ESL tutor who focused on his strengths and pushed him to achieve his short and longer term goals. Manuel worked hard and learned enough to take and pass his GED exam.
Earning a GED was a turning point for Manuel. He was eligible for a new level of employment and was motivate to continue to study and learn in order to better himself and his family. Manuel is very involved in the local Hispanic community and encourages others to pursue their dreams of education. He refers many students to our ESL and Family Literacy Programs.
"I know what this program can do for people," he says. "I am an example of how education and learning English can help you get a better job and live a better life."
Manuel and his wife Maria (also a Burke Literacy Council student) now own their own home in Morganton and each have jobs working for state agencies here. He is active in his church and continues to work towards his goal of attending college.
Elidia is a hard-working, loving, kind woman from Guatemala who came to the United States six years ago. She came to the United States with her two sisters and one brother and resides with one of her sisters and that sister's three older children. Although she has no children of her own, she is a primary caregiver for her brother's son Ricardo, who is four years of age.
Elidia started coming to Project Flower approximately five years ago after meeting one of the Project Flower tutors at the time. She faithfully brings Ricardo with her to participate in the childcare learning portion of the Project Flower program. This has been incredibly beneficial to Ricardo as he is learning the English language, and Elidia and Ricardo are working together to practice English on a regular basis when they are away from their classes.
Elidia states that the most difficult transition to the United States has been learning English and finding transportation when needed. However, she advises that the American people have been very kind to her and that she really likes the American people.
Elidia has major medical issues that require not only ongoing surgeries, but also regular contact with medical professionals. She says that Project Flower has assisted her tremendously in learning English so that communicating with these professionals has become easier over time.
Elidia's goal is to become fluent in English and to help others learn the English language as well. She has also been instrumental in not only inviting others to come and enroll in Project Flower classes, but also in making them feel truly welcomed. She is such a nice addition to the Project Flower program!
Dominga, an immigrant from Guatemala, has made a good life with her husband and three children in Morganton. She works extremely hard at her job; however, she has goals and dreams that she knows she can attain if she improves her English and furthers her education. Read on as Dominga tells in her own words how she believes in herself as a result of improving her English with the Burke County Literacy Council.
"Hi, my name is Dominga. I am married. I have three children: two boys and a girl. I work in a factory. I like to do my job, but I don't want to work there all my life. That is why I come to ESL class - to learn more English. I wish to have my GED one day, and after that I want to be a nurse. I hope I can do it. I think it is possible."
The Burke County Literacy Council staff and volunteer tutors also believe that it is possible for Dominga to reach her goals through education. It is a privilege and honor to help Dominga and other students like her to succeed through literacy!