Students' Success Stories 2020-21
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 takes small steps to reach great distances, or so the saying goes, for demanding goals like language learning.
And Summer, an accountant from the industrial city of Tangshan in northern China, has taken her share of steep and difficult steps.
There were encounters with supermarket staff who didn’t understand her heavily-accented English. And she was lost while listening to her literacy program classmates whose Creole French accents she found hypnotic but undecipherable.
“That’s why it’s a hard life in America,” she said of her language struggles. “When my English gets better maybe I can get a job and do everything myself. Now, even the easiest thing for me is hard.”
There’s also pressure from relatives back home who are concerned about her safety, given media reports of attacks against Asian-Americans.
“My family are worried about me and ask me to come back,” she said. “They say America is not nice to Asians. But actually everyone is nice, everyone is friendly.”
Back in her virtual classes, Summer now converses with her classmates. And that’s progress.
“Now we can speak and understand each other,” she said.
In fact, she’s anxious to meet them in person again as she had before the pandemic forced her classes to go virtual.
“Even though the online class is very convenient, I’m looking forward to going back to the library,” Summer said. “People need to be social. I want to be social.”
Summer followed her husband to the U.S. three years ago after he found work in a shipping company here. She arrived in the summer and quickly gave herself the season as a nickname, for fear that U.S. residents would have trouble pronouncing her Chinese name. She and her husband have a 16-year-old son who attends a local high school.
In her spare time, Summer enjoys movies at home and she loves to go shopping.
She studies online each week with two tutors, Diane Masucci and Terry Waters. She describes her pronunciation and conversation as “very bad” but, during a 30-minute telephone interview, conducted in English with few problems, she spoke deliberately and clearly. She said she only wishes that her husband and son, who are both fluent in English, would help her practice.
“I remember I said to my son ‘If you don’t speak English with me, if you don’t like to practice English with me, I won’t cook for you,’” Summer laughed. “But my son studies very hard, and is very busy, and he doesn’t have time to practice with me.”