Thank you, Muncie, for inviting me to speak tonight. This is the 30th anniversary of ReadWest, and for me, it is an honor to be here talking with you. All these wonderful people from ReadWest has helped me to fulfill everything I have done so far. I know that I worked hard to achieve all these goals too, but I also know that without their help, guidance, and support that I have had from the people of ReadWest, and my husband. I would not be here tonight. For me, ReadWest is like a gift in my life. They gave me a gift box full of tools that I needed to help me achieve my goals so far. I assure you that I have already put to work and used these tools in my daily life. Thank you ReadWest for the best gift that could be given to a person, which is “The Knowledge.“ The knowledge to be available to communicate with your son‘s teacher, helping your child with their homework, or have a simple conversation with people in general.
These kind of tools are really a gift for people like me, who come from other countries and don‘t have knowledge of English, and to add to that, also need to adapt to another culture. Read West gives us the opportunity to learn English through different classes and personalized tutors, to include offering classes like GED, Citizenship and more, and through these classes, they are helping to change the lives of many people. Thank you Read West, thank you Muncie, Cyndy, Helen, Rosie, Bob, Lyn, Joe and all the people who were involved in helping me learn.
Now I would like to tell you something about my life and how ReadWest helped me. I really was happy to come to the United States to live. The land of opportunity, but for me it was difficult because of my struggles with English, starting when we arrived. Sometimes I want to say so many things, and I couldn‘t. I felt frustrated, this is why I started looking for a place where I could study English and that was difficult also because I don‘t know anybody here. One day I was bored, homesick, and feeling lonely and I decided to go to the park with my son and while we were at the park I heard somebody talking in Spanish about the place in front of the park call ReadWest. The person said the magic words that they were teaching English and it was free. I didn‘t think twice. I crossed the street to see what they were talking about. When I got there Muncie opens the door. I was really nervous, but she was really kind to me. She explained it all to me, and gave me a test. Before I knew it I was enrolling in different classes at ReadWest. Then days after that I enroll myself in CNM also, in the ESL classes.
When you are part of ReadWest they become part of your family. In sharing our own histories about what we were doing in our countries, our own dreams and what we want to do here I assure you that these beautiful ladies really listen to you. I already have a background as a Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Colombia and one day Cyndy talked to me about the Nursing Assistant program that CNM was offering for people with a second language.
I really got excited but when I went there and asked for the program they said to me that I need to be in the advanced English classes or have a score above 198 in the Casas test. Also, I have to take the class 790 in the ESOL program to be available to enter the program. I talked with Cyndy and she encourages me to work hard. She started giving me different copies, books and different materials in which I could study. For my part, I decided to study hard and get my GED also. Cyndy never left me alone and I know that I will always have her support in my journey.
ReadWest helping me with tutors in English (Rosie), Math (Bob), and Chemistry (Craig). 10 months after that I finished my GED and I have passed the tests to be accepted to the ESOL program in class 790. I remember that I had to take the accuplacer test 4 times before I passed. I completed my English 790 class and entered into the Nursing Assistant program. With the help of my tutor Rosie who helps me with all the conversations that I needed to have with my patients in class, thank you, Rosie, for being patient with me. I would like to say at this point in time I completed my Nursing Assistant program with a 4.0 and highest honors. I realized that I could continue with my studies and become the nurse that I always wanted to be. This is why I am continuing my studying by taking and completing my Patient Care Technician (PCT) class, and I only have 3 more classes to complete the requirements to enter the Registered Nursing (RN) program at CNM. During this time, I qualified to take my Citizenship exam, which I am very proud to say that this has been completed also and I have become a United States Citizen on our wedding anniversary May 31, 2019. Thank you, Lyn, I really enjoyed your class.
This is my history and thanks to ReadWest and the opportunity that you have given to me. Today I‘m here in front of you to show that all the work that you are doing at ReadWest is helping people like me to be better every day. Thank you to all people who are part of ReadWest, and all those who make donations to support the program. Thanks also to my husband who supports me in everything I do. I love you. It was a pleasure and an honor to come here this evening to tell you about my history. I appreciate this opportunity and thank you for listening to me.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with a living literacy legend. While at the ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Education in San Diego, I was amazed to see Ruth Colvin walk out of the ballroom along beside me. When she saw “Literacy Volunteers” on the logo of my ReadWest shirt, she struck up a conversation with me. I was star-struck.
You see, Ruth is the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, which later became ProLiteracy. She spent her entire life working to address the issue of adult literacy. Her efforts on behalf of adult literacy earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006, presented by President George W. Bush. It’s also remarkable that Ruth Colvin is 102 years old.
“I’m so proud of you young women taking up the cause of adult literacy. I am glad this important work is in such capable hands,” she said.
But Ruth is not slowing down. She told me she had some more literacy conferences to attend this fall, and her memoirs will come out shortly.
“People think they should retire at age 65. But you have all this great knowledge; you should use it to do something worthwhile.”
What an inspiration. What a pleasure to be called a ‘young’ woman by my literacy hero. I rededicate my next few decades to the worthwhile cause of adult literacy in the U.S. Want to join me? Click this link to find out how and then select Get Involved!