Students' Success Stories 2023-24
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!
Originally from Ecuador, Martha's life took a transformative turn when she decided to move to the United States with her husband. However, the path to success was laden with hurdles and challenges.
Martha arrived in the United States four years ago, armed with the determination to learn English. Some of her struggles stemmed from Spanish being widely spoken in her New Jersey community. "Practicing English was difficult because, in New Jersey, you can often manage with Spanish," she recalls.
Her journey was marked by sacrifices and separation from her husband, who had initially come to the United States a year before her. After their marriage, Martha became pregnant, and they decided to postpone their return to the U.S. until after the birth of their child. Navigating the embassy's immigration process took a year, and when they finally arrived, the pandemic had descended upon the world, making life even more challenging.
During the pandemic, Martha faced the daunting task of looking after her two children, including her 16-year-old son struggling to adjust to a new country and remote ESL learning. Despite these difficulties, Martha's determination remained unshaken.
Martha's search for English learning resources led her to the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) of Essex and Passaic Counties. She enrolled in online classes, completing four courses to date. Her commitment to mastering English is admirable, as she even repeated two sessions to enhance her language skills further and feel more confident about her progress.
Martha's motivation to learn English is driven by two main factors: improved communication with her children's teachers and the aspiration to take the citizenship test. She is keen on honing her speaking skills, though she acknowledges the complexity of grammar.
With a bachelor's degree in hospitality management and tourism from her home country, Martha brings a wealth of education and professional experience to her new life in the U.S. She is proud of her academic achievements and the joy of being a devoted mother to her two children.
Learning English has already had a significant impact on Martha's life. She now feels more confident while interacting with her youngest child's school. However, she's aware that there's still more to learn, especially as her daughter prepares to enter kindergarten.
One memorable experience on her English learning journey was helping a friend who lost her passport while visiting the United States. Martha's newfound language skills allowed her to assist with tasks like filing a police report and navigating the airport, an achievement that filled her with pride.
Martha acknowledges the crucial role of her teachers, Jalaire Craver and Olga Roberts, in her journey. She appreciates the structure Ms. Jalaire brings to her classes, helping students stay on track and the patience and humor they both bring to the table.
Martha's advice to aspiring English learners is simple yet profound: "You must be patient." She emphasizes that learning English is a gradual process that requires practice and persistence to build confidence.
Looking ahead, Martha's goals include applying for citizenship, learning to drive, and eventually securing a part-time job to provide for her children while being present in their lives. Her story inspires all who face challenges while pursuing their dreams, demonstrating that success is within reach with dedication and perseverance.
In a remarkable narrative of determination and ambition, Evangelina Medina, a Venezuelan native, has forged a path to success in the United States through unwavering resolve and a commitment to education. Arriving on American soil five years ago with a tourist visa, Evangelina embarked on a transformative quest to conquer English, a pursuit that has not only enabled her seamless integration into her community but also propelled her career aspirations.
Fueled by her desire to communicate fluently and engage fully in her new homeland, Evangelina meticulously researched platforms to aid her language acquisition journey. This quest led her to the Literacy Volunteers of Essex & Passaic Counties (LVA), a renowned institution dedicated to enhancing English skills for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Evangelina's insightful choice proved pivotal. At LVA, she found a comprehensive ESOL program that not only addressed her linguistic needs but also provided an environment of dedicated educators and coordinators who shared her passion for growth. The program's holistic approach resonated deeply with Evangelina, igniting her determination to excel.
With an unwavering goal of integrating into the community and thriving professionally, Evangelina immersed herself in her studies. Over two years, her dedication yielded tangible results, marked by steady enhancement in her language proficiency. While acknowledging that improvement is an ongoing process, particularly in the realm of listening comprehension, Evangelina embraces the gradual nature of language learning, recognizing that practice and discipline are integral.
In an innovative approach to bolster her listening skills, Evangelina turned to her passion for interior decoration. Engaging with English music and videos centered around her interest not only honed her auditory acuity but also facilitated navigation through professional courses conducted in English, enriching her language journey.
A trailblazer in her professional pursuits, Evangelina holds a degree in Human Resources Management and a master's degree in Education from her native country. Driven by unwavering ambition to excel in her chosen field, she ventured into insurance, where language proficiency is paramount. Evangelina's tenacity culminated in a memorable milestone - her first successful sale conducted entirely in English. Despite imperfections, this accomplishment reinforced her belief in boundless possibilities ahead.
The immigrant experience often presents challenges, and Evangelina's journey is no exception. Starting anew and acclimating to unfamiliar surroundings and job responsibilities demanded unwavering dedication. However, her unwavering focus, determination, and commitment have propelled her beyond barriers, illustrating that with hard work, pursuit of dreams knows no bounds.
As an immigrant, Evangelina's story underscores the potential for success within each individual, regardless of origin. Her empowering narrative stands as a testament to the significance of seizing opportunities and persevering relentlessly. Reflecting upon her remarkable journey, Evangelina imparts a profound message to fellow immigrants: seize chances to learn, grow, and excel. Through organizations like LVA, with unwavering support and effective programs, success becomes an attainable reality.
In Evangelina Medina's own words, "The best is yet to come." As she forges ahead on her path of accomplishment, she not only embraces this sentiment but embodies it, serving as an inspiring example of triumph over adversity, the embodiment of the American dream realized through determination, education, and an unyielding spirit.
Born and raised in China, Summer (Yan) Chan embarked on an incredible journey to the United States in the summer of 2018. Motivated by the necessity of learning a new language in a foreign land, Summer discovered the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) through a recommendation from the Millburn Library staff and thus began her pursuit of English proficiency.
English literacy became a significant focus for Summer as she recognized its vital role in integrating into American society. Her determination and commitment to continuous learning propelled her forward, with more than four years of dedicated English language study under her belt. Over time, she witnessed noticeable improvements in her language skills, particularly in comprehension, allowing her to engage more meaningfully with others. Eager to expand her vocabulary further, Summer remains resolute in her dedication to mastering new words.
Amidst her studies, Summer found solace and inspiration within the pages of a book titled "Stories of Life and Death." Penned by a New Zealand doctor, the book delves into various tales from the ICU, providing profound insights into life and mortality. Summer's fascination with the subject matter prompted introspection, contemplating the delicate balance between life-saving measures and compassionate end-of-life care. Although medical jargon presented a challenge due to language barriers, the translated version in Chinese allowed her to grasp the essence of the narratives.
Reflecting on her educational journey, Summer fondly recalls her college years when she pursued accounting in China. She shares that in her middle age, she finds that feeling happy is the most important accomplishment.
Learning English opened doors to new cultural experiences and facilitated her adjustment to life in America. One particularly unforgettable moment for Summer was her initial visit to an ESL class. Without a driver's license or a car, she relied on trains to attend her lessons, which tested her resolve and resourcefulness.
While she acknowledges the absence of specific support systems, Summer remains grateful for the guidance and encouragement she has received from her tutors. Their patience and kindness have been invaluable, allowing her to navigate the challenges of language acquisition with renewed vigor.
Like many language learners, Summer encountered setbacks, particularly in memorizing new words. Frustration occasionally clouded her path, but her perseverance and resilience helped her bounce back and continue her progress.
For aspiring students pursuing similar accomplishments, Summer offers heartfelt advice: remain patient and steadfast in your learning. She emphasizes the importance of relaxation and maintaining a positive attitude while undertaking the journey of English literacy.
Looking ahead, Summer's vision encompasses securing employment in her adopted homeland. She understands that language proficiency will play a significant role in achieving this goal and remains determined to continue honing her skills.
With each passing day, Summer continues to embrace new horizons, eager to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.