Students' Success Stories 2019-20
We all enjoy success stories. They are positive messages about overcoming obstacles, working hard for the reward, and finding satisfaction in completing challenges. Read about the students who have obtained citizenship, those who escaped war torn countries and now have assimilated into American society and absorbed our culture, and those who finally read a bedtime story to a young child or grandchild. That last achievement has a special significance for a Basic Literacy student after a lifetime of frustration and low self-esteem. Here at Literacy Volunteers of America we like to celebrate all those positive events in our students’ lives. Sometimes we celebrate with hugs and treats, but most often, we share these achievements with others through this page on our website. That way all of our LVA community can share in the celebration of their success!
It was a year full of promise for Cristina, an immigrant from Peru with dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Her eldest son was headed to college, her baby boy would turn one, and she was about to take her citizenship test, after months of studying with two volunteer tutors. She aced the exam in January, on her first attempt.
“My tutors helped me a lot to study for my citizenship,” Cristina said of volunteers Susan Dorman-Dzubina and Ann Moore. “Without them, I might not have passed my interview.”
Cristina became eligible to vote, apply for federal jobs, and enjoy all the benefits afforded citizens. It was clearly the best of times.
Then came February. As she woke in the middle of the night to nurse her crying infant, Cristina smelled smoke. A raging fire quickly followed, sparked by a faulty apartment electrical system. She grabbed her baby and, along with her husband and older son, fled to the street. Outside in the cold, in their pajamas, they were met by neighbors who brought them blankets and shoes. They lost their clothing, they lost their furniture, and they lost their home. The firemen did manage to save one item… her precious handbag that contained all of her important documents.
“This last year for me was good and not so good,” Cristina explained.
In the wake of an unspeakable setback, Cristina struggled to return to the library and meet with her tutors, a testament to her determination to learn. Ann Moore said, I have been working with Cristina for about two years. During this time, I have been very impressed with her commitment to learn English...all while raising her family. Cristina has a wonderful, upbeat attitude and is an impressive role model for her family, her fellow students and her community. I thoroughly enjoy having Cristina in my class.”
Her older son, now a business major at Montclair State University, babysits his younger brother while Cristina’s at the library. He also helps his mom with her homework, when she gets stuck, and the family watches TV together in English.
In Lima, Cristina once studied English for a year but, in her own words, “I forgot my English. When I came to this country I had to start over.” She particularly felt lost, she said, when trying to understand spoken English. Today, she feels at ease reading about historical figures, learning about the United States, practicing grammar, and expressing her opinions with tutors and fellow students. And listening to theirs: In English.
“I am learning very well,” she said.
Solange & Katty