Uniting America: Love of Literacy

February 17, 2012
Lucy Smith AmeriCorps Fellow

No better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by embracing our love for literacy! ...and community resources...

Waubonsee Community College hosts a wonderful event, Love of Literacy, each year around Valentine's Day to celebrate the literary achievements of the English language students. The Adult Literacy Project arranges and manages all the adult English language classes as well as GED courses, due in no small part to the director Sherry Woodward. They evaluate students to determine their abilities and assess their English language skills. They are then invited to attend a class either at Waubonsee or at one of their partner organizations, Family Focus among them. Also available are one on one tutoring sessions where learner and tutor can meet anywhere in the community at any time. GED classes are only given at Waubonsee but plenty of external aide is provided to ensure their success!

Love of Literacy provides these students a chance to explore the plentiful resources provided by Waubonsee including Career Services, Student Activities, Youth Programs, Study Services and much more. Students interact with the representatives in English and learn more about the available services that their community provides. They receive candy, fliers, pencils and much more as they move through the fair. Every 10 minutes or so a raffle ticket is also selected so that one of the students receives an additional prize. Upon completion of the walk through, participants are then girted a free book, provided by a partnership through Cambridge University.

Family Focus was also asked to participate in Love of Literacy as they host an ESL course staffed through Waubonsee, but there is so much more to the organization...where to begin?! My coworker Migdalia and I load up boxes of information and fliers to describe our services that may be of most interest to the students. We emphasize the computer classes and immigration services, including the upcoming workshop this weekend at East Aurora High School. We highlight the free dental services that are being offered as well as a Healthy Families Meeting that will take place this week. Fliers are also available on our parenting programs and public assistance including LINK and AllKids Insurance.

As for Uniting America, I display a sign up sheet and a stack of half page fliers as well as my business cards. While the focus of this fair is to present resources to the Adult Literacy Project students, I find myself engaged in many conversations relating to community unity and volunteerism. Tutors walk through with their students and want to learn more as well as Waubonsee students who are simply curious. One student in particular would like to learn Spanish; this is not the first plea I have heard of this nature. Many non-Spanish speakers desire to communicate better with their neighbors but the rigid structure of a formal academic course is not necessarily attractive. What a great way to bring the community together! The need for English language tutors is evident, but what about the need for Spanish language tutors?

This event inspires me! I am now connected to people who would like to know more information about Family Focus services, and to those who want to support their community and really get involved. Enough thanks cannot be expressed to both the Adult Literacy Project for their work and to Sherry Woodward for organizing this wonderful, 2 day event!