The Adult Learning Alliance of Arkansas has been working with local literacy councils across the state to continue raising awareness around adult literacy and its impact on our state.
In just about every area of our society, the COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark. This has been especially true for organizations and institutions that primarily serve their populations in person, such as education. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents all over have struggled to keep up with all the new and ever-changing policies and procedures. When we read the headlines, the focus is often on K-12 and higher education institutions and understandably so. However, a community of learners that are routinely left out of the conversation are adult learners.
Local literacy councils have been faced with the unique challenge of figuring out ways to continue supporting their students. These students rarely fit neatly into any one specific demographic. These students are individuals that never finished high school or if they did, still weren’t well equipped to fully participate in society. These students are immigrants from countries all over the world, many of whom were academically successful in their home countries, but now in the U.S. are finding it difficult to learn a new language. Some are young. Some are old. Despite these differences, the councils have worked hard to meet their needs.
Thankfully, not only have the majority of literacy councils continued to find creative solutions to serve their populations, new councils have been established to serve previously unserved populations. In addition, the Adult Learning Alliance of Arkansas Board of Directors, and its Executive Director, Nancy Leonhardt, has been working to devise new methods to keep students and tutors engaged. This work led the Board Legislative Committee to create an essay contest for both groups with cash prizes.
The prompt, “What Adult Literacy Means to Me,” was shared with the local councils to share with both students and tutors. The response from the councils was great! Both groups shared their responses, which served as a reminder of how valuable these local councils are to their communities that they serve. One student, Liping Zeng, wrote about how the services provided, helped her to be able to take care of some of the routine everyday tasks that we often take for granted.
“My English was limited when I arrived in Little Rock. For example, it was hard for me to make an appointment to visit the hospital” wrote Liping, who moved to the U.S. from China. “[Now] I can call the internet company to cancel my unreasonable bill. I don’t need a translator to help me when I see a doctor. I can help my kids do their homework and communicate with their teachers.”
Adult Learning Alliance is proud to support our local councils because these are the amazing results that are happening there each day. We are even more proud to be able to provide another opportunity for the students and their teachers to tell their unique stories.
Congratulations to the following essay winners:
First place: Liping Zeng, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas – Little Rock
Second place: Luis Cervantes, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas – Little Rock
Third place: Christine Preszler, Twin Lakes Literacy Council
First place: Hawke Davidson, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas – Faulkner County
Second place: Neely Caudle, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas – Faulkner County