Guest Blog: Betsy Rubin, Literacy Works
What is literacy? Most basically, it’s being able to read and write. For many, it’s the ability do so in a new language. In Chicago, hundreds of thousands of adults – immigrants, refugees, and those born in the US – have less than 12 years of formal education, so their literacy skills are low. Even high school grads might not have the skills they need to meet their own goals. They may wish to:
- find a job that pays a living wage, or enter a job training program
- communicate their questions or ideas clearly and confidently to doctors, children’s teachers, co-workers, prospective employers, fellow worshipers, elected representatives, and others
- use a computer and get information from the Internet
- express themselves through poetry, journaling, or memoir writing
- read a story to the young child in their life
Literacy Works sees these individual literacy-related goals as essential to the well-being of our entire society. When we train volunteers, we help them recognize that adult learners can build on their own lifetime of experience and knowledge to achieve these educational goals.
An adult learner at one of Literacy Works’ member agencies who began his journey as a near non-reader wrote, “The teachers are very good at showing me how to pronounce little and big words. I am getting better at knowing how to read big words that I do not know. I am making progress in my reading, writing and spelling. My most satisfying experience has been going to Springfield, Illinois. I saw the capitol building and was at the [literacy] rally. I am also happy to be able to go to the library. Now I can check out books and read them at home.”
A volunteer tutor with one of Literacy Works’ member agencies shared her thoughts: “When I think of my students now, I can hardly believe there was ever a time they were bashful or even in one case non-communicative, refusing to talk to me beyond one-word replies. Building trust is something my students and I have worked hard to establish and maintain over the years. This trust has enriched our experience together and enabled me to help my students fill even the most vulnerable gaps in their education, gaps they were initially reluctant to expose to me and others. My hope is that my students will continue to apply what they learn from our sessions into the outside world. I know I certainly will.”
Students and tutors like these inspire my colleagues and me at Literacy Works every day! If you know someone in Chicago who wants to improve his or her skills, let us know – we can suggest a welcoming program. If you might like to become a literacy tutor, we can help you find a convenient place to volunteer and let you know how to get trained. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS On April 29, we’re thrilled to present Carlo Garcia with Literacy Works’ Inspiration Award at our Much Ado About Tango event!
Guest Blog by Betsy Rubin, Adult & Family Literacy Specialist, Literacy Works
For more information about Literacy Works, please visit: http://www.litworks.org or to join the Living Philanthropic team and make a donation to group project, please visit: http://www.crowdrise.com/LP-APR