My name is Gary Tuthill and I’ve been working with Bijan Mohammadi since completing my tutor training in the Winter of 2013. I’m retired from computer programming and this is my first tutoring effort. Bijan is a pleasure to work with, and we’ve become good friends. Much of our time together has been conversation, including job application discussions, house buying evaluation and the history, culture and geography of Iran. While already able to handle the basics of life in Massachusetts, Bijan has become much more comfortable and skilled in communication in English.
Lan Huy is a brave and soft spoken young man who recently opened his new graphic design and printing business right here in Worcester. In addition to graphic design and printing, he also has this incredibly complex but beautiful looking embroidery machine, which he is a master of!
He is also a tutored ESOL student at Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, who recently immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with his young family to create a better life. He is so thankful for the opportunity of literacy, his tutor and his chance to create a good and happy life in the United States.
Lan named his business, Happy Colors, and he selected that name because it means a happy life for him and his family. He continues to meet with his tutor to master the English language and cultural expectations with his tutor Gary at weekly meetings.
Everyone has a story to tell. The Worcester Women’s Oral History Project collects, preserves, and shares the stories of Worcester women including the stories of immigrants who have lived in Worcester for many years and have established themselves as doctors, entrepreneurs, teaches, and directors of nonprofit organizations. This year WWHOP has collaborated with five Worcester organizations that work with immigrants and refugees in order to gather stories of women who have more recently emigrated from a variety of countries, including Colombia, Algeria, Brazil, China and Burma. Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester was one of the five collaborating nonprofits and we invite you to join us. Print out attached flyer and rsvp to WWOHP today.
We and our students were honored to collaborate with WWOHP in recording these stories and look forward to sharing the experiences with you! Please join Worcester Women’s Oral History Project and Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester in celebrating the completion of these immigrant women stories at the public event on 12/5/17.
Immigrant and Refugee Stories of Worcester Women
Tuesday, 12/5/17, at 5:30 pm
Worcester Public Library, Saxe Room
free and open to the public – refreshments will be served
rsvp email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Addeo, Unum disability benefits specialist in Worcester’s Benefits Center, says volunteering with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester is good for the soul.
Inside: When did you start volunteering?
Amanda: In high school, I was a member of several student organizations where we volunteered around Worcester.
Inside: Why do you volunteer?
Amanda: My motto is “my day-job pays the bills but volunteering feeds my soul.” It’s important for me to be an active member of my community and give back whenever possible, but it’s also
rewarding to see the ripple effect that comes with volunteering. Through my volunteer work, I’ve developed new skills, networked and made great friends, all while helping others. Volunteering can also be a meditative practice that helps you gain a deeper perspective of how communities connect with people.
Inside: What organizations do you volunteer for?
Amanda: I’m volunteering with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester (LVGW) as a literacy tutor and member of the board of directors right now. In the past, I volunteered with Worcester State University and South High School for Massachusetts Education & Career Opportunities, Inc.’s College Success Institute. I would work with high school juniors and seniors to prepare them for college and beyond.
Inside: What does your volunteer work at LVGW look like?
Amanda: We help adults refine their literacy skills. We teach immigrants, refugees and adult basic-literacy students to read, write and speak English. Participants range from those learning English for the first time to citizens and residents of the community who are functionally illiterate or unable to manage daily living and employment tasks that require skills beyond an elementary level. Each tutor is matched with a student for weekly tutoring sessions. My tutee, Libo, is a young woman from China. She studied some English in China where she attended college, but ended up moving to the United States when her husband enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Every Friday, Libo and I meet at a coffee shop and focus on conversation, pronunciation, reading and writing. There was a significant cultural exchange that took place as well. We talked about history, politics, cultural norms and traditions – both American and Chinese.
Inside: Do you have a favorite memory or story from volunteering?
Amanda: When Libo and I started working together she was very quiet and isolated herself from the fast-talking American lifestyle. We began with restaurant menus and transitioned to reading Hemingway and Kafka. As her English improved, her confidence did too. Libo, now funny and social, is not just a tutee but my friend. Libo welcomed the birth of her first son and lovingly calls me his auntie.
Inside: What advice would you give to others who are considering volunteering?
Amanda: Volunteering breaks barriers like illiteracy. Whether you volunteer for LVGW or another organization, you are donating your time to build a sustainable community for the future. You learn about yourself and the people you are helping, and it’s an eye-opening experience.
Interview Credits: Unum internal newsletter 9/5/2017
My name is Ban Yaqoob. I am a refugee from Iraq. My family and I have been in the United States for three years and a few months. I have two children, one son in high school and a daughter in college. When I first came to Worcester, I attended classes at Literacy Volunteers to learn English. I waited a long time for a tutor. We have been meeting every week for almost one and a half years. I need to learn to speak English so that I can communicate in my daily life. I am thankful to Literacy Volunteers and my teacher for helping me with my goal.
My name is Darrelyn and I have been a tutor for almost a year and a half. I have always wanted to be a Literacy Volunteer and a few years ago, I finally had the time to devote to it. I did not have any teaching experience before this, but the training program and the support that is available gave me the confidence to become a tutor. I meet with Ban, my student, every week and we work on speaking, reading and comprehension, listening skills using different strategies. Ban has made great progress and she is a motivated and enthusiastic learner. This experience has been so meaningful and rewarding for me. Ban is my student but also has become a friend. She has taught me many things about her culture and country. She is a wonderful cook and has spoiled me and my family with many delicious dishes!
Agueda Rivadeneyra is my student. We started meeting in June 2015. Agueda is a stellar student. She learns quickly and is extremely motivated. Our lessons start with conversation, and we discuss grammar, writing and vocabulary. Homework mostly centers on her interests and includes watching movies and listening to songs in English. Often, Agueda decides to watch an extra movie and to listen to additional songs, in order to accelerate her fluency in English. We meet each week and Agueda takes one or two classes each semester with our faculty at Literacy Volunteers. Because Agueda has a very positive outlook on life, she is a joy to see. She loves her family and friends, and she is a kind, compassionate person.
Agueda moved to the United States from Mexico and plans to become a citizen. She has wide-ranging hobbies, including gardening, cooking, sewing and dancing. I look forward to each meeting with Agueda, she is my friend as well as my student. I learn more from her than she does from me! We also have coffee and lunch with her husband Jesus on occasion. Jesus is also a student at Literacy Volunteers. Agueda and Jesus would like to open a restaurant in the United States once they are fluent in English. Meeting Agueda and Jesus has been the best blessing for a new tutor. My name is Sheila McManus, and I am a Literacy Volunteers tutor.
My name is Susan and I completed the tutor training in May, 2015. I was interested in becoming more involved in helping new immigrants to succeed in our community. I heard about Literacy Volunteers by word of mouth and have enjoyed my experience in every way. I meet with my student every week – we play games, work with flash cards and mainly, I encourage my student, Melba, to speak English! We even talk on the phone twice a week because Melba is afraid to talk on the phone. I also volunteer in the Literacy Volunteers’ main office once a week. This experience is so meaningful for me and I’m not sure who gets more out of it.
My name is Agueda Rivadeneyra. I am from Mexico. I have been in the US for 2 years. I am taking English Classes with the Literacy Volunteers. I want to learn English because I need to communicate with the people in this country. My husband and I came from Mexico to North Grafton, Ma. because my youngest son began high school.