Launched in 2004, the North Carolina LiteracyCorps is a program of the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) at UNC Chapel Hill designed to support the literacy needs of North Carolina. NC LiteracyCorps places AmeriCorps members as tutors and teachers at campus and community-based literacy organizations, providing direct-service tutoring and teaching to youth, adolescents, adults, and English language learners. Members also build program capacity by helping to recruit, train, and manage volunteers.
One of my favorite experiences from my service term was the day one of our learners came to tell me that she had passed her citizenship exam! She was beaming with excitement and telling the whole story, from how she studied and prepared with her tutor to how her car had broken down on the way to the exam. In the end, everything had worked out, and she was so thankful for all the English practice we had given her. Now that she has her citizenship, she wants to keep studying and enroll in college. It’s so inspiring for me to see such hard-workers achieve their dreams and keep going!
For me however the best thing about my service, and most powerful part of this event was my role in bringing these families together in a new way. We had families from all over the world, from all walks of life, and all with different stories. I was able to give them an opportunity to step outside of their regular schedules and come together to recognize not only the achievements of youth from Wayne County, but also their own literacy achievements. Over this service year, I’ve seen my students and their families grow in their literacy skills. In the beginning, many students would have been unable to relax and enjoy the sense of community from an event like this, but after months of hard work, students from all languages were able to come together, recognize the growth of their own literacy skills, and share it with our wider community. When I began this service year, I really had no idea I would be able to have this kind of impact on my community.
The volunteers I serve with really made my time at NCLC special. While I teach classes, and work with students who are getting their GED, most of my time is spent recruiting, training, and placing volunteers. Every day I am amazed by the generosity, kindness, and determination of the people in my community. Our volunteers tutor students in English as a second language, help people to learn and improve reading skills, work with applicants for naturalization, and prepare students to take their GED. Their will to help people knows no bounds, and they are helping to change lives. Although I’ve always volunteered, I’ve never truly understood the impact volunteers have in an organization. I’ve never been able to see how many people are committed to helping their communities.