On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) successfully hosted its 54th Annual Recognition Event at the James Lee Community Center, Virginia. The event celebrated the outstanding achievements of community partners, adult learners, and long serving volunteers. More than 200 guests attended the event, including friends and families of adult learners, instructors, volunteers and staff.
Adult Learners gather on stage for a group photo
"This event is LCNV's answer to a graduation ceremony,” says Executive Director Patricia Donnelly. “The end of the school year is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our adult learners. The volunteers are also critically important to LCNV. LCNV has more than 700 active volunteers working in the community every year. They do an enormous amount of direct service work with the adults and within the organization as a whole,” says Donnelly.
LCNV invited adult learners to write essays around the theme "When I Learn English, My Community Grows." Vice President of the LCNV Board Saurabh Verma introduced the four LCNV student authors selected to share their essays at the event. The readers - Liem Dang, Gema Baron Ramos, Shu Chu Ho, and Gloria Castellanos - emotionally connected with the audience with their inspiring stories. At her reading, the ever so effervescent Su Cho Ho said, “When I came to America, I could not speak English. I only smiled at people when they talked, and I had to ask my daughter to translate for me. Now, I can talk to anybody I want to. I can talk to cashiers, taxi drivers. I can make friends wherever I go now, because I can talk to everyone. Learning English has helped me become closer to my family. I can join in the conversations that my grandchildren have, and I can be more involved in their lives. I ask them what they learned in school and how their friends are. Now, we can understand each other.”
Adult Learner Su Cho Ho reading her essay
Delegate Mark Keam was the keynote speaker at this event. Delegate Keam thanked the adult learners for reading their wonderful essays, and spoke passionately about his own journey as a young immigrant. Delegate Keam acknowledged the struggles that immigrants face in a new culture, speaking a new language, new ways of doing things, and the difficulty of not being able to articulate things in the language they are not comfortable speaking in. He also thanked volunteers for their contribution to the community at large, and encouraged all of us to be active participants in our democracy.
LCNV admits students who read below the fifth grade level. Having seen adult learners so confidently share their new-found English skills in front of such a large crowd reaffirms the very mission of LCNV … literacy education empowers adults to make measurable improvements in their lives and their communities. “We recognize our learners and their achievements,” says Donnelly, adding, “Many adults make many sacrifices to get through English class or to be tutored in our programs. It is their successes and their achievements that we celebrate at the recognition event.”
Check out the full photo album here: Photo Album
Download the 2016 Annual Recognition Event Book.
Watch Fairfax County's Channel 16 broadcast of the event: