Successes ► LEARNER STORIES
For the past two years, Dave and Juan have met once a week at Juan’s Naperville apartment. They sit at the kitchen table and talk about work, their families, or what is new in the neighborhood. It might seem completely ordinary, but the results of those meetings have been extraordinary.
The 28-year-old Mexican native came to the United States four years ago, knowing no English. He tried going to college, but without the fundamental skills of reading and writing, he found the experience overwhelming.
Then he discovered Literacy DuPage. That organization linked him with Dave, his tutor and mentor. Dave is vice president of sales at Perfect Plastic Printing in St. Charles. He heard about the mentoring opportunity at his church and thought it was a good chance to “give back.” After just two years, Juan has gone from knowing no English to Level 7, the competency level desired for all Literacy DuPage students.
When Dave and Juan get together for their weekly tutoring sessions, they take turns speaking each other’s native language. The tutor helps the learner, and the learner helps the tutor in return. Dave says Juan has all of the characteristics to succeed: “He’s got the personality, he’s patient and charismatic.”
Juan adds, “When you are sick, it is very important to talk to a doctor, and I can do that now. And I can talk to a manager, and I can do my work.” Juan is a cashier at an area Wendy’s, where he speaks both English and Spanish. His boss recently approached him about moving up to a management position.
Rosa arrived from Mexico, speaking no English. She realized she needed to learn how to speak English when she was pregnant and had an ultrasound but didn’t understand the results. Without a driver’s license, she had no way of getting to classes to improve her English literacy skills.
One of Rosa’s greatest needs was to be able to make medical appointments and speak to doctors. With her tutor’s help and over a period of time, Rosa’s English and confidence increased, and she also got a job at McDonald’s. She improved her English skills, obtained her driver’s license, and then became a manager at McDonald’s.
Rosa’s goal now is to study at College of DuPage and to become a realtor.