Beyond Black And White MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   Many of us take literacy for granted, which makes sense since the majority of people learn to read at six or seven, and it quickly becomes a fact of life. We stop marveling at the fact that we are enlightened through our education, that a whole world of words is open to us, from street signs to a newspaper (such as this) to mail we receive each day. But this magic world is not open to all. The words on this page are merely black and white to some. Many immigrants who come to this country are strangers to English, while others get through life without reading or writing. Watertown's Project Literacy is one way the literate world of the United States is broadened through one-on-one tutoring as well as special programs such as weekly group discussions, social events and outings. Project Literacy concentrates on immigrants who want to speak and write better English. They run the gamut in age, background, and goals.

A friend and I recently finished the training session so that we can join the core of tutors. We were the only high school students involved. About twenty other volunteers trained with us, ranging in age from twenty-somethings to women in their sixties. The program coordinator ran six three-hour training sessions, and facilitates the other sessions. In a month we will arrange our first tutoring session.

The training sessions were Monday nights, and there was always some kind of sweet incentive and coffee and tea to keep us perky as it eased nearer to nine o'clock. The sessions combined individual reading and participation with group work and discussion to keep us busy. The hardest part is not having tutored yet, and the first tutorial seeming sooner and sooner with each session. Our twangs of anxiety and impatience were somewhat eased by several guest speakers, both tutors and students who talked to us about their experiences with Project Literacy. I hope this article inspires you to train. I'm already vouching for this program before my first tutoring session.

If you or someone you know has been trying to find a worthwhile way to give back to the community, consider Project Literacy. I had thought about doing some kind of volunteer work, and finally this program seemed like the ideal way to donate a few hours each week. The training sessions are a big time commitment, but the six weeks went by quickly. As we talked about in the final session, all I can do is go into the first tutorial with an open mind, friendly attitude and smile! fl

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i love this so much!


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