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T w o a n d a h a l f y e a r s a g o , I w a s t o y i n g w i t h t h e p r o s p e c t o f t e a c h i n g r e a d i n g i n l i b r a r i e s a n d r e a d i n g p r o g r a m s i n L a o s . I t w a s a r o m a n t i c a n d a l t r u i s t i c n o t i o n , b u t o n e n o t f i r m l y r o o t e d i n r e a l i t y . O r a t l e a s t n o t m y r e a l i t y . I n v e s t i g a t i n g o p p o r t u n i - t i e s c l o s e r t o h o m e , I d i s c o v e r e d t h e M a r i n L i t e r a c y P r o g r a m . T h e i r n e e d a n d m y d e s i r e m e l d e d p e r f e c t l y .

Finding

COMMUNITY

W i t h i n w e e k s o f O r i e n t a t i o n a n d t u t o r t r a i n i n g , I w a s p a i r e d w i t h m y l e a r n e r , a r e m a r k a b l e w o m a n b y t h e n a m e o f G l o r i a . I l o v e d h e r f r o m t h e s t a r t . H a r d w o r k i n g , a m b i t i o u s a n d e n t h u s i a s t i c , s h e p r o v e d t o b e a n o u t s t a n d i n g s t u d e n t a n d a v i d l e a r n e r . A s i n g l e m o t h e r o f t h r e e , s h e a t t e n d e d e v e n i n g c l a s s e s a t C o l l e g e o f M a r i n , w o r k e d t w o j o b s , a n d m e t w i t h m e f o r t w o h o u r s a w e e k t o i m p r o v e h e r r e a d i n g a n d t o h o n e h e r s k i l l s a s a w r i t e r .

At first our journey meandered. It was filled with carefully constructed lesson plans and a myriad of expectations.We covered phonics, grammar, intermediate reading and “free writing.” As we found our footing, together we set goals and she achieved them; together we identified necessary skills, and she strengthened them. In the process, the writer’s voice buried within her began to emerge. Everything that she had endured – the struggles and challenges, the nearly insur- mountable obstacles she had overcome – were finding expression through her words.Those words found their way into articles she authored for two news- letters, a Writer to Writer contest entry, and finally, an essay for Marin Literacy’s annual publication of student writings, Different Worlds, Many Voices 2007. I beamed with pride as Gloria again read from her work to the large audience assembled at the Student Authors Event at Book Passage this year.

My association with Marin Literacy was also taking hold. I seized every oppor- tunity presented to me: perusing the literacy resource library with regularity, attending Tutor Roundtables, volunteering for fundraising events such as the Marin Human Race and the Love of Literacy Sing-Along at the Rafael Film Center, and, most recently, joining the Marin Literacy Training Team.

A l t h o u g h G l o r i a a n d I n o l o n g e r w o r k t o g e t h e r a s s t u d e n t a n d t u t o r , I k n o w s h e c o n t i n u e s t o r e a p t h e b e n e f i t s o f w h a t s h e g l e a n e d f r o m o u r w o r k . I s a w i t i n h e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h h e r c h i l d r e n , i n t h e a d m i r a t i o n o f c o - w o r k e r s , i n t h e c o m m u n i t y t h a t e x p a n d e d a s h e r b r e a d t h o f k n o w l e d g e e x p a n d e d , i n h e r f a c e a n d d e m e a n o r w h e n s h e a n d I w e r e r e c e n t l y r e u n i t e d .

Each of us finds our way to Marin Literacy for different reasons. I would like to think that our purpose is singular: to help ease the burden of illiteracy by em- powering those who seek education as a means to a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.

  • Tracey Rose,Tutor and Trainer

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