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Archive for August, 2011

Karen Tate is an ELL student being tutored at the Loudoun Literacy Council by one of our tutors, Laurie Harbert since October 2010. Karen came to this country a few years ago and moved to the Virginia area about a year ago. She is a very hard working, motivated individual who came to this country by herself. She is building her new life from the ground up, pretty much all on her own. When I asked her what her life had been like before she started her tutoring sessions, she replied, “I was like a blind person, walking around in circles, not knowing where I was going.”

Her tutoring sessions with Laurie have helped her with more than just her English skills. She has also learned how to become more self-sufficient and navigate the system here. She describes her sessions with Laurie as those that take place between close friends chatting over coffee about their life experiences. Some of the goals that she has achieved in the short amount of time that she has been a student with LLC are to obtain her driver’s permit, move into an apartment, get a job as a salesperson and cashier, create and build a resume, and apply for a job as a teller at a bank. Laurie has helped, as Karen says, “lay the groundwork” for her to be able to accomplish these goals by walking her step by step through the process. For example, during one of her tutoring sessions, Karen learned how to read a map as well as how to navigate the bus system, which she relies heavily on.

Karen says Laurie has given her the “tools” so she can be more confident and independent. She wants to be able to converse in English as effortlessly as she does in her native language. Ultimately her goal is to attend college here in the U.S. She is very open about what field she would like to major in and she likes to have options. Karen’s tenacity and willpower have helped her to learn how to read and write in English on her own, and I am sure it will help her to accomplish all the goals she sets her mind to. Laurie’s role in all this is to be her compass. Karen’s tutoring sessions with Laurie help her to prioritize her numerous goals and keep in mind what is practical for her. It is very clear to me that Karen can do anything she puts her mind to, overcoming all obstacles that may stand in her way. It is truly a pleasure to work with students like her at the Loudoun Literacy Council.

– Harman Sidhu

Americorps member

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