Day 1 Adult Literacy Training Completed

Fantastic job by Literacy DuPage, part of Pro Literacy America. Professional. Cordial. Encouraging.

One interesting fact that came out is that several of the future tutors wish to tutor to WELCOME immigrants to America. To combat the negativeness of the tone toward immigrants. To let them know we welcome them.

We get matched with a student next week. Then two more training sessions until we are official literacy tutors.

We even get an official tote bag and card to identify ourselves at libraries where we will tutor.

Oh. These are all volunteers.

Well done. Well done. Seeing a positive side of this beloved America. I know there’s greatness there in her people.

More to follow. I’m exhausted!

Thanks for reading.

Literacy Tutor Training Tomorrow

book      “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” –Frederick Douglass.

Since I believe so strongly in the power of literacy to improve lives, I am going back to my teaching beginning, with adult literacy tutoring.  Although I am a licensed reading specialist, English teacher, and reading teacher, tutoring adults is different and requires specialized training.  I am going to https://literacydupage.org/ tomorrow, and may do the tutor training where I teach in the fall as well.  Then I will decide which program I want to actually tutor with.

I feel my life has been enriched because I can read and write rather easily, and I would like to help others grow in skills.   I’ve had a wonderful career in teaching (and still teach college part time), and I respect and truly like people.  I hope I have a lot to offer those needing help.

Back in the 70s and 80s, I was a volunteer adult literacy tutor, while I worked in business and before I entered teaching. Now that I am “sort of”retired, it’s come full circle and I return to my first teaching experience. It’s interesting how that works!  I also remember my students could not believe people were not being paid to be tutors, since in their countries they didn’t find free tutoring. I don’t know about that, as I’ve not been to another country looking for free tutoring.

I think it’s important to give back to causes that one believes in, and I believe in the power of literacy.

Thanks for reading.

Part 3–Literacy can be the Bridge: in Praise of Public Libraries

cropped-be-creative-creative-creativity-256514      Getting to there from here? How does one change careers while still paying the bills?  This was a true dilemma for me, for there was no trust fund, no rainy day forgotten account, no family to turn to once I quit my job in business.

This is a nice problem to have, and I know that.  It reeks of privilege, and I know that.  Yet I was a healthy adult with so much energy, and I knew I wanted a different type of life than working in an office.  I did not turn to drink, but I turned to sadness.  I turned to tension. Those are not healthy.

Since I loved to read and write, I turned to the public library and was amazed to find the library had become a hub of activity.  The library was not a quiet place as I remembered it, but a place of reading groups, tutoring, computer training, and so much more–in addition to having quiet places for reading and studying.

I wonder if librarians know they have helped to improve the lives of many?  For that is what I saw daily as people looked for jobs, learned a new skill, found positive activities for themselves and their family.

I found the world of book discussion groups, and never looked back. Like-minded reading lovers–what a joy!

And more–the library was looking for literacy tutors and I wanted to become a teacher.  Would I dare to take that risk, even while I was so very sad in my everyday world?  It almost seemed too difficult to risk change and then have the change not work out.

Would I take the risk and make changes?

More to follow.

 

Part 2: Literacy Can Be the Bridge–The Power of Reading and Writing

cropped-be-creative-creative-creativity-256514           How do you get there from here?  I had no idea; I wanted to have a life that contained more reading, writing, poetry, nature.  I’d always wanted to be a teacher, but could not afford to take any more time with college.  I graduated with my teaching certificate, but there were only aide positions or sub positions, neither of which paid enough to pay the rent and neither of which carried insurance benefits.

Yet the rent wanted to be paid, the electric bill wanted to be paid and so on.  Not having a family to turn to for any help, I knew I was on my own.

I found what should have been a great job in business, but it was killing me.  I’d lay awake at night grinding my teeth, willing the hours not to pass.  I just didn’t want to do it anymore, and yet I had no idea how to get there from my present life.

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For a number of years, I commuted by train to the loop.  (That was my favorite part of the day, the commute!) I discovered I could read again, books I wanted to read.

One year, I decided to read only female writers or novels with strong female characters.  There was no method to this plan, just the knowledge that I spent most of college reading male writers or about male characters.

I found books at the library and read them voraciously. I discovered Willa Cather, and my life changed forever. Why hadn’t I heard about her or read her books in college?  Her characters’ longing for culture and education plus their longing for the beauty of nature resonated with me.  I discovered Edith Wharton and the plight of the urban female. I discovered Theodore Dreiser and the plight of the female as he expressed it.  I discovered Anne Tyler, Anne Frank, Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, Virginia Woolf, Amy Tan.  I discovered the lovingly drawn character of Helen and her search for education in Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant.

I was unsophisticated in how I chose the books to read, often choosing by the cover, by what was available, by what was on sale, by what I had heard about.  This was before the internet, I had no literary types in my life at that point to help me make decisions.  I got lucky in that I read many great books and “met” many great characters.

In these books, the longing for a more meaningful life as expressed by strong characters spoke to me: I was not alone.

But what was next, I wondered, even as my home made after college education continued?

Part 1: Literacy Can be the Bridge–The Power of Reading and Writing

be-creative-creative-creativity-256514   One great thing about getting older (but that’s another story!) is that I can remember things that took a lot of time to accomplish; young people know this: one step at a time in the right direction can truly help lead you to where you want to be in life. Literacy was a very important bridge for me to go from a life I did not want to a life I wanted to live.

As I am older now, I am thinking about how to recreate and re-energize myself, and I turn to my old friends reading and writing.  For there are many reasons to believe reading and writing can help me now in my older years–but that is another story.

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Decades ago, as a young adult, I found myself working in a field that was unhealthy for me. But like most, I had bills to pay and didn’t know how I would ever be able to make a change from a business career to a life filled with teaching and writing.  What is the bridge?

Day after day I commuted to the office, feeling like I would literally scream outwardly what I was thinking all day: Get me out of here!  I remember writing, in pencil and very small: GMTHOOH on some of my files, perhaps hoping I would get caught, get fired, and be forced to make positive changes in my life.

But I was careful, and I was an excellent employee.  How can one be really good at something that kills the soul?

But I was, and I was not fired.  Nor was I laid off during those harsh 80s when so many good people got let go of jobs they needed.

But back to the topic–how did reading help?

Some people laugh when I say literacy saved me, but it did. Reading and writing have always been important to me, but when I was working in a field I hated, I pushed reading and writing away from me.  It just hurt too much to be around what I could not have as part of my daily life, so I pushed away that which would have helped nourish.

It would take a return to reading and then writing to see me out of a time and place and life I didn’t know how to leave without becoming poor–and I had been poor.

(But that’s another story.  So many stories!)

This story is about how literacy, reading and writing, can be a bridge to an improved life.  They sure were to me.

Part 2 to follow.

 

Writing to and in the voices of fictional characters

writing to characters

       I’ve written to fictional characters for many years; sometimes, I get replies.  When very young, I used to write to Anne Frank to offer comfort, to seek comfort, to wish she had lived.  Imagine what she could have written, what she could have become as an adult. I wrote to her when I was very young, before I really understood her history.  I wrote to her as if she were a character in a book, and I just loved her.

I have written in characters’ voices to other characters, in the form of ekphrastic poems.

I have written poetry in the voices of Levin from Anna Karenina, of Macduff from Macbeth, of Simon from Lord of the Flies.  I have written in the voice of Lucy Gayheart in Willa Cather’s fine novel of the same name.  To characters in the novels of Thomas Wolfe–o, lost!  To characters in the amazing novels of John Steinbeck.  To characters in those many young adult novels I read when a teen–I wanted to tell them I understood.

Do many others do this?  It seems such an incredible thing to me when a writer creates characters that truly speak to me; they help me grow as a person.  They help me empathize, see things from other points of views.

From one mind to another, across the years and the miles? That’s such an amazing gift of literacy.  Literacy means we don’t have to be confined to one place and time, and that is a priceless gift.