Annual Awards Ceremony 2016
More than 300 students and tutors were honored at our Annual Awards Ceremony, held last month at the East Orange Public Library. It was a night of beautiful acceptance speeches and heartfelt acknowledgements from students whose lives have been improved through literacy and the tutors who helped them. Here’s some of what was seen and heard.
Bin Lin Wei, an ESOL student from Essex County, told the crowd she felt comfortable speaking English publicly when, only a few years ago, the thought of speaking privately with a store clerk in English terrified her. She remembered an experience at a state Motor Vehicle Commission office, where a worker asked her to sign a form on a “pad,” a word she didn’t understand. “The lady said to me ‘Can you please sign quickly, there are many people behind you.’ I was very embarrassed.”
Tutor Sherri Smith encouraged students to remain positive, something she said has helped her students, Magaly and Maria, to advance their language skills. “Whatever questions they are asked in English, they’re able to respond back,” she explained. “If they have a sick child at home they’re able to call the hospital or call the doctor’s office and say that we have a sick child and we need someone as soon as possible.”
Abir, a student from Syria, had kind words for her tutor, Rick Fairlamb, who was unable to attend the ceremony. “I am able to speak to you today because of him,” she said. “He is more a father than a teacher and he has been with me every step of the way. He has been my number one fan and my support. I’m grateful for all his time and patience.”
Tutor Alethea Jones said “With this opportunity, I realize I found my passion with teaching ESL. Like they say, when you find your passion you don’t feel like you’re working. And I don’t feel like I’m working.” She also pointed out Mary O’Connor, the LVA trainer and support specialist who led Alethea’s tutor training workshop. “I want to thank you for all the cool things you taught us in class, and how to fold up those ShopRite bags,” Alethea added.