Our classrooms have always been places where students learn and improve their language skills. Particularly at the beginning of a new semester, the classrooms transcend academics and become more of a dynamic channel where learners bond and make new friends with each other. In one of our classes at the James Lee Community Center, 3 people from Nepal were truly pleased to connect with each other in this new country. In another example, Maria and her daughter Angie are enrolled in different classes and have become “bus friends” with Angie’s classmate, Mahnaz. They travel to and from class every day together by bus. Building from this interaction, they support each other after classes, practice English together, and laugh at each other’s jokes - even though Mahnaz’s first language is Farsi while Angie and Maria are native Spanish speakers. We are so glad to see such interactions among our learners – it shows that they are courageously stepping out of their comfort zones despite the language barriers or associated difficulties, and that with these memorable steps our students are building community and moving towards success.
At the same time, LCNV has also been meeting new friends and strengthening ties with our partners. We have worked closely with Acumen Solutions on several important Salesforce projects as one of four organizations in Northern Virginia selected for the Acumen Solutions Global Pro Bono Initiative. With the help from strategy and organizational design consultants at Accenture, we had opportunities to evaluate our capacity with respect to our mission and overcome barriers. Earlier this September, LCNV volunteer librarian Bruce introduced us to Agus, a literacy activist in Indonesia. Learning from the stories Agus shared with us, we are all motivated by his effort, dedication, and adventures encouraging people to read in his home country. We also celebrated our first Destination Workforce® classes in partnership with Capital One and José Andrés’ Think Food Group as they wrapped up with ceremonies that truly embraced the potential and talent of these companies’ hard-working English learning employees. We even got to celebrate a shared birthday during the Think Food Group class – for our Lead Teacher, Tamia, and Think Food Group student-employees, Andrade and Yoselin. A new Destination Workforce® class is also under way with a new employer partner, City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities (RPCA).
Friendship brings new possibilities and paves the way towards a future we can create together. Here’s to a happy new friendship-filled semester that sees our students thriving in and beyond the classroom. As always, LCNV also looks forward to making new friends and strengthening our connections with our long-time colleagues. With friends and partners in the community, we are able to engage more learners and expand our impact to promote literacy throughout the region.
Roopal Mehta Saran