“Long before I started doing it through the University [of Arkansas], I’ve always been involved with local nonprofits, sitting on boards in various capacities. So, it was time [for me to serve]. And the Ozark Literacy Council, it’s just such a fabulous organization. It seems like everyone on the board is willing to work; having a board where everyone seems engaged is super important. It makes for an enjoyable experience.
Literacy is such a basic dividing line, societally. If you don’t have literacy there’s an entire chunk of dominant society that you really don’t have access to. You don’t have access to the ability of understanding easy tax forms or what you’re signing up for when you vote…basic human rights as far as I’m concerned. And the inability to read just makes life in general so much more complicated and difficult. So literacy’s really important. An important aspect of what OLC does that they didn’t really intend to do…[is] an introduction to culture. The OLC plays this role for so many ESL students. So along with [teaching English] I think Ozark Literacy plays a role as an introduction to [U.S.] culture for these families. The teachers play a role in helping people know how to connect with services and take advantage of [resources]… teaching people not only what’s in the United States but more specifically what’s in Northwest Arkansas. And I think in our current political climate [OLC] being a place where people can feel safe and learn about a culture should not be underestimated.”