Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is why we do what we do!

Please read about our work with Blake Landscapes featured on Leesburg Today by clicking the link below. We partner with them to empower non-English speaking workers with the ability to communicate and read in English at their workplace as well as in their community. Our adult learners enjoy taking classes with us and are thankful for the opportunity their company has given them. Loudoun Literacy helps adult learners to improve their speaking, writing, and reading skills through the many classes we offer. We would love to hear similar stories across many companies in Loudoun County that work with non-English speaking employees. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are: a company interested in partnering with us, a student who wants to improve your English skills, or a volunteer interested in helping with our classroom needs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring 2015 Coffee Hour

Thanks to everyone who made it! It's always great getting to spend time with our volunteers outside of the classroom and office. Our next coffee hour will be held on July 18th, so mark your calendars! 
Interested in becoming a volunteer? Check out our training opportunities, and submit a volunteer profile to sign up! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

LLC Spotlight on Brasília, Brazil

By Advanced ESOL Student, Gisele Gehre

I live in Brasília, the beautiful capital of Brazil. My city was planned in detail by people all over the country before being built. One thing that few people know about Brasília, is that the city plan forms the body of an airplane! 
Brazil has 130 million inhabitants and Brasília has two million eight hundred thousand inhabitants. We are a happy, lively and welcoming people, with faith in God and who always finds a reason to celebrate! Brazil is well known for football, carnival and the weather, which is always hot! But we are much more than that! Many of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in Brazil, among these, the beaches in Fernando de Nordonha and Rio de Janiero. My city has no beach, but we have many museums, parks, lakes and wonderful architecture! 
If you visit Brazil, you can not leave out of your list a beach called Areia vermelha (red sand) in João Pessoa, Northeast. Also, Aroe Jari cave in the city of Chapada dos Guimarães, where there are numerous waterfalls in the caves. In addition, the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro. Most importantly, of course, in Brasília, the Praça dos Três Poderes (Plaza of the three powers.) From there you can see the main building of the Three Powers: Presidential Palace (Exectutive), National Congress (Legislative) and Supreme Court (Judicial). That's where they create, discuss, and approve each of the laws of the country. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LLC Spotlight on Tunisia

The two years I spent in Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer (at the risk of dating myself, from 1972-74) proved to be a significant experience, both in my personal development and in cementing professional interests that subsequently guided my academic and government career.  Having grown up in an Army family, I was accustomed to moving around and to living overseas, but Tunisia, where I worked as a secondary school English teacher, was clearly a different kind of place.

A significant part of Peace Corps training consisted of learning about cultural norms and differences in preparation for working directly in a new environment.  These norms, of course, were essential to remember, but a further part of adapting to the new environment was understanding that, out of respect for the country to which we was assigned, we weren’t there to “go native” but rather to perform a specific function that would hopefully be of some value to our hosts.  For a little known country about the size of Wisconsin, Tunisia proved to be a remarkable place to learn that lesson.

Few people are aware that it was events in Tunisia which, in 2011, sparked the series of popular uprisings that came to be known, albeit inappropriately, as the “Arab Spring.”  Moreover, going on four years after those events, Tunisia stands as the only member of the Arab Spring which, despite significant turmoil, appears after overthrowing a corrupt regime to be making tangible progress toward establishing a stable democratic government guided by a new constitution incorporating basic civil and political liberties.  For those subscribing to the impact of history and even geography on political culture and national character, Tunisia makes a model case study.

If you look at a map, you will see that Tunisia stands virtually in the center of the Mediterranean community, separated from Sicily by a narrow strait that effectively divides the Eastern and Western Med.  At least partly as a result, just about everybody seems to have been to Tunisia at some time in its history: Berbers, Phoenicians (who founded Carthage), Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish (a few of my students bore the good Tunisian family name of “Ernez”); and more recently, French, Italians and for a few years even Germans.  The country is a trove of important Phoenician and Roman ruins, making it a significant place for archeologic research.  Many Tunisians like to think of themselves as a bit more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than their Arab neighbors as a result of this exposure to a heritage of European, Arab and African influences—a national self-image not always appreciated elsewhere in the Arab world.  But it may have something to do with Tunisians’ reputation—notwithstanding the appearance of some Tunisians among the current ranks of Arab and Muslim terrorist organizations--as being friendly to foreign visitors and receptive to new ways of thinking.

Within its borders, Tunisia also boasts significant diversity.  It is best known for its rich coastal plains and, above all else, for its beaches, which attract many European tourists.  But the landscape also ranges from the northern edge of the Sahara Desert in the south to the eastern edge of the Atlas Mountains in the northwest, which often receives significant snowfall in Winter.  One thing Tunisia isn’t known for is oil and gas, which probably makes many Tunisians envious as they contemplate their neighbors Libya and Algeria, which are practically floating on the stuff.  A bad break for Tunisia, though some maintain that this relative misfortune has helped to instill a sense that the country must learn self-reliance and avoid political and cultural extremes.  In any case, it was an interesting place to spend a couple years.

So what does this have to do with Loudoun Literacy Council?  Perhaps not much, but I was immediately reminded of my experience in Tunisia as soon as I encountered my first students.  I don’t know much about Loudoun demographics beyond awareness of Hispanic immigrants, but it was both surprising and enjoyable to discover that my first small batch of students included people with roots in four continents—and all within a short distance of my house in Ashburn.  Moreover, these students are all eager to improve their English, which, I must admit, wasn’t always the case among my Tunisian high school boys.  I have a feeling that an interest in peoples from the various corners of the globe—or for that matter the US—is a common trait among those who seek out an organization like LLC, not to mention a major reason for the success of the Peace Corps and its domestic counterpart, AmeriCorps.  So, LLC gives me an opportunity to reconnect a bit with my somewhat distant youth as well as to do something worthwhile as I ease my way into a welcome, more relaxed way of life in retirement.     


Monday, December 22, 2014

LLC Spotlight on "Next Step: Literacy"

When we know the answer, we raise our hand. When we feel we can contribute something of value, we speak up. When we're outside our comfort zone, we tend to stay quiet. 

Illiteracy in the United States is an issue that often goes unrecognized, because the people who deal with it are ashamed, or in some way discouraged from asking for help. Now more than ever, being literate is essential to success. Literacy is no longer confined to the relationship between a person and print, but between a person and the rest of the world.

Ultimately, literacy starts with our children. At-risk families don't always have the resources or support they need at home, and even schools are feeling the weight of supporting students who struggle with more pressing issues such as food insecurity and poverty. 

A groundbreaking project called "Next Step: Literacy" out of Georgia State University aims to increase children's literacy with a never before attempted method. The project was completely sans-instructor; instead utilizing tablets programmed with a game to teach children essential literacy skills, all the while, the program works in tandem to familiarize the children with technology.

For more information, read the full story at Georgia State University Magazine and watch the short film below.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays from Loudoun Literacy Council!

It's been a busy holiday season here at LLC, but we were fortunate enough to spend some time with our wonderful volunteers! 

Interested in becoming a volunteer? Check out our training opportunities, and submit a volunteer profile to sign up!