Blog

Meet Veronica

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My name is Veronica.  I am married and have one daughter.  Four years ago, we left Mexico with a broken heart – no family, no friends, and no jobs in Arkansas. We lost our way of life, but everything has its rewards. In the beginning, it was very difficult, but we progressed step by step.

A year and half ago, I found Ozark Literacy Council. OLC has very professional people; they always work very hard and give a lot for us. Our school is amazing because we have people from different countries and cultures. We are one big family because we are learning English and a new culture.

My daughter, Samantha, is ten years old. She is very active in her school, and she loves her Gifted and Talented classes. She has very good grades, and her English has improved a lot compared to how much she knew four years ago. Samantha is the reason why we are here struggling.  We are seeking a better education for her and us.  My goal now is to go to the University for an MBA.  I feel more confident thanks to OLC.

Meet Jeff

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I started reading lessons in 1996 because I wanted to read newspaper ads.  I wanted to get a driver’s license and a better job.  I’ve had a lesson almost every week since 1996.  I take cooking lessons, like to go on cruises, and am involved in bowling, baseball, running, and church. I work now as a janitor at Walton Arts Center, and I get to go to some of the shows. I read better than I did, but still need to improve.  I enjoy my lessons at OLC.

Meet Nouk

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My name is Nouketcheussi, and I come from Cameroon. My country is very beautiful, and the people of Cameroon are warm and welcoming to all. My wife and I and our four children came to the United States from a special program in my country. At first, we thought to experience immediately the American Dream. But this was not so easy as we first believed.

Both my wife and I had taken English classes in Cameroon. We thought we knew well the language of the great American people. However, when we arrived, we were surprised by how little we understood. It was impossible to live our dream when we could not understand those who were speaking all around us.  By our very good fortune, we learned about Ozark Literacy Council, and immediately signed up for classes. This good habit has helped us to help our children with their schooling, and it also helped me to understand people. Now I have a job*, and my wife is training for a job as well. Now that we can understand the expressions of the people around us, we can live the American dream and help other people at the same time.

*Nouketcheussi works for the Arkansas Support Network. His wife Christine is receiving PRN training.

Meet Rohani

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I’m Rohani, and I’m here from Indonesia. My husband came here when he received a U of A Fulbright scholarship. When my baby was six months old, we came here to join him. I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Back home in my country, I used to watch Hollywood movies. I thought of America in terms of big cities, crowded places, and people wearing fancy dresses.  However, when I first got here, I felt amazed by the country and landscape of the Natural State. Here in Arkansas, everything is completely different. I see woods. I see big roads, but less traffic than I expected. Also, people here are very friendly, and religious, too. In my mind, I thought America was a secular country, and Americans didn’t really have the value of belief.  At Ozark Literacy Council, I mingle with different people from all over the world.  It makes me feel humble, open-minded, and more respectful of others’ beliefs.  I have made many new friends, and we have established strong relationships inside and outside of class.  I see a lot of good inside the hearts of Americans, especially the people of Arkansas.

Finding Home by Sydne Tursky

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A Nepali woman struggles to find community in a city strikingly different from her home country. The first time Sangeeta Pandeya met Kapil Khadka, she didn’t even like him. The second time Pandeya met Khadka, it was their wedding day. Read the story      

Student Story: Esther del Castillo Labrador

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Imagine moving to a country where you don’t speak the language.  That’s the situation Esther del Castillo Labrador found herself in when she moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2016.  Although she already spoke Spanish, German, and French, she struggled with her English language skills. “I studied English grammar in school,” she explained, “but I couldn’t speak very well.” And that’s when luck intervened.  Shortly after moving to Fayetteville, Esther opened her front door to find a Spanish language newspaper on her doorstep. “It was good chance,” Esther said, especially since she’d never received a Spanish paper before.  As she started flipping through the pages, she stumbled across an advertisement for Ozark Literacy Council.  “I didn’t know anyone, so no one could tell me about OLC. When I saw the advertisement, I knew I wanted to go to class there.” Because Esther had arrived in the U.S. just a month before,

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OLC receives Excellence in Education Award for 2017

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OLC received the 2017 Literacy Council Excellence in Education Award from Arkansas Literacy Councils in recognition of the leadership and excellence OLC is providing in the community and in literacy. We are grateful to our wonderful community who support us and to our tutors and students for their hard work. Thank you for the recognition ALC! We are truly humbled and honored. Members of OLC pictured at the awards reception at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock on May 19, 2017. Pictured left to right: AmeriCorps member Nathan Riggs, Executive Director Margot Lemaster, Program Director Mina Phebus, AmeriCorps members Hanna Billinski and Casey Kraichoke, Development Director Jim Mitchell, and AmeriCorps member Kelley Zornes.

Student Success Story: Carlos Giraldo

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Carlos Giraldo moved to Northwest Arkansas from Medellin, Colombia 18 years ago. He has been married for 17 years, and while working full time at Rockline Industries, he studied at John Brown University where he earned an undergraduate degree in business and his MBA.  Like many Colombians, Carlos is passionate about “fύtbol” and sports in general. He is also one of the top Racquetball players in the state of Arkansas, and in his spare time, he enjoys reading and spending time with his family.   Life was not easy when Carlos first arrived in the U.S. Fortunately, he has been blessed with a lot of support throughout his time in this country. In particular, he remembers very fondly his time spent at the Ozark Literacy Council in Fayetteville, AR.  His English was limited when he first immigrated to America, and many English as a Second Language classes offered by the

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Do you know an adult who can’t read?

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From ProLiteracy: ProLiteracy commissioned a nationwide survey this summer to gather further insight on public awareness of adult literacy. This was the second survey ProLiteracy commissioned; the first one was in summer of 2015. The survey was conducted by a market research company and included 1,000 participants. The data revealed some noteworthy results, including that despite a slight increase in awareness, we still have more work to do: Overall awareness of the adult literacy issue in the United States rose slightly from 59% in 2015 to 63% in 2016. Seventy percent of respondents said they do not personally know someone who can’t read. With 1 in 6 adults in the U.S. struggling with low literacy, most people probably do know an adult who can’t read. Eighty-three percent of respondents are not aware of adult literacy organizations in their communities. Learn more about their findings and download an infographic from their

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David Johnson named 2016 Barbara Broyles Champion for Literacy

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Join us October 20 to honor David Johnson, Fayetteville Public Library Executive Director, as he receives the 2016 Barbara Broyles Champion for Literacy Award presented by Betsy Broyles Arnold, Executive Director of The Broyles Foundation. For tickets visit maskaread.bpt.me. Fayetteville Public Library Executive Director and University of Arkansas graduate, David Johnson has been a Fayetteville community member for over 20 years.  His wife Holly is the Director of Development, Grants, & Community Relations with the Fayetteville Public Schools.  His daughter Cecelia is a freshman at the University of Missouri, and his son Russ is a junior at Fayetteville High School.  Johnson, who received his Masters of Library Science degree from the University of Tennessee, returned to the Fayetteville Public Library after fifteen years with Tyson Foods where he held various leadership positions in Information Systems, Sales and Marketing, and Research and Development.  Along with the wonderful staff at the library, Johnson shares the

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