From the Field- Meet Literacy Partners Karla and Tamera

Story Provided by Literacy Program Tutor Tamera Norman

Karla and I have been working together for 4 years this month. Initially she wanted to be able to communicate in English with her children’s teachers, doctors, and others and eventually she set her sights on becoming a U.S. citizen.

I felt strongly that she would succeed because she studied diligently. We went over the citizenship questions, wrote out sentences, and practiced talking about citizenship. On the 23rd of April she attained her goal and passed her Citizenship Test. It was glorious!

I am so proud of the way she persevered despite her limited daily exposure to English and her challenges in finding time to practice.  Karla now has 4 children. The older three boys all speak English, while her 2-year-old daughter thus far speaks only Spanish. Moreover, her husband and most of her family speak only Spanish.

A little over a year ago, Karla truly showed her strength, confidence, and perseverance when faced with a difficult situation.  Karla’s father fell ill and needed surgery.  This required Karla to step in as the primary go-between for all of his doctors and caregivers.  Given that he had recently traveled from Mexico and spoke no English, her literacy skills were put to the test on a daily basis. While I would have wished for a different scenario, what I witnessed through her healthcare advocacy process, was that Karla’s English greatly improved because she’s practiced it more.

It’s been an honor to work with Karla. She’s worked very hard toward her goals and blossomed along the way. I felt like I gave birth to a new citizen on the 23rd. I am so extremely proud of Karla and her accomplishments. As my wise Grandmother always said, “Practice makes perfect.”

It is also true that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Our students are smarter than fifth graders and so must we tutors be. Our students have either forgotten 10 times more than a fifth grader has ever learned, or they learned in another language and just need to figure out how to say what they know in English. We tutors are here to help.

I’m grateful for the continuing opportunity to help with literacy.

 Learn More about the Literacy Program and how you can become a volunteer tutor to support students like Karla.

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