Duane serves as a full-time AmeriCorps member with Literacy Connections of Wayne County. Literacy Connections of Wayne County serves adults by offering adult basic education and English as a second language. They offer one-on-one tutoring and classes to accommodate to their student base.
Serving at Literacy Connections of Wayne County (LCWC), means that I serve adults with literacy challenges. Each client that walks through the doors of LCWC presents different challenges, yet different hopes and aspirations. The majority of my day is spent identifying and organizing materials that I will use with either a student one-on-one or in a class setting. For example, I lead the Life Skills class, which is the main class that I lead twice a week. The Life Skills class is designed for intellectual and developmentally disabled adults. I enjoy working with the learners in the Life Skills class because they represent unique literacy challenges. It can be a challenge at first to build a relationship with the learners and earn their trust. However, the reward of connecting with a learner is beyond description. Through connecting with the learners in the Life Skills class, I have seen amazing changes in personality as well as social interactions that were uncommon previously.
Beyond leading the Life Skills class, another of my favorite ways to serve at LCWC is through offsite one-on-one service. I enjoy meeting with learners that for whatever reason cannot make it to the center. Thus, I take the tutoring to the learner at various sites in Wayne County. Wayne County has a reduced public transportation when compared to Wake or Durham Counties. For some learners, being able to get to the center is in itself a huge challenge. Distance and lack of transportation can be a barrier for some learners. Therefore, I believe that if a learner is not able to come to the literacy center, then we should take the center to the learner.
I feel that one of the greatest examples of personal rewards and a reminder of why I joined NCLC and AmeriCorps is when I get to work with learners that other agencies say are outside their service scope. The community college will refer a learner to LCWC when the learner does not respond to the learning modality of the community college environment. It is very rewarding when I see that very same learner respond positively to the learning process at LCWC, while working together one-on-one. It is extremely gratifying when I witness the increase in confidence in a learner as the learner internalizes the learning process and takes ownership of their education. I love to see learners that the local community college could not serve, prosper and grow from Literacy Connections tutelage.
In reflection, my service year up to this point has had both challenges and rewards. One of the best rewards is that look on an adult learner’s face when the learning process “clicks”. I love seeing a learner’s desire to read more and more complex materials. On the other hand, perhaps the largest challenge for me serving at LCWC so far would be the assortment of challenges that Wayne County faced after Hurricane Matthew. For example, after the hurricane the center was without power for several days and I was unable to leave my house for nearly a week due impassable flood waters. Many of our learners were flooded out of their houses and some lost possessions. Serving in AmeriCorps has its rewards and challenges; and my time serving at Literacy Connections has had plenty of both. There have been rough patches such as the flooding from Hurricane Matthew, but in total, the good days are great and the eagerness of learners has surpassed every challenge.