Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Los Angeles Public Library - It's a Match

It’s a Match Part I
A newsletter written by students and tutors. Changing lives one chapter at a time.

Deborah’s Story By tutor Deborah Hanley
When our economy fell in 2009, none of us knew how life as we knew it would change. For me, it meant the end of long-term employment and facing the extensive recession as a single woman in her 60’s. After living in Massachusetts my entire life, I rented out my home and drove cross-country with my adult daughter, Annie, a resident of Los Angeles.

Even driving through multiple states in a stuffed compact car could not compare with the culture shock I felt after arriving here. Where would I live? Would I be able to find work? How would I meet friends in this vast city? Luckily, the Los Angeles Public Library system offered an option through the tutoring program, which saved the day in more ways than one.

I was enlisted through Alicia Chavarin, Ben Franklin Branch, who paired me with Margarita Severiano, Maggie—a beautiful single mother of three boys.

From our very first meeting, Maggie impressed me with her openness, her dedication to her studying and her willingness to accept this “foreigner.” Week after week, we learned more and more about each other and our families as we reviewed the course work. The materials spurred discussions about politics, famous personalities, becoming a citizen, using the computer, immigration reform, getting a driver’s license, identifying skills and career paths, cultural innuendo, slang, our children, and much more. It moved on to cooking tamales, quesadillas, salsas. I told her how I was the one who needed tutoring in Spanish, feeling quite educationally challenged because of it. After all, she could speak two languages. Week after week Maggie arrived fully prepared for our session and was always more awake than I was!

Alicia could not have made a better match. I look forward to each tutoring session. I feel warmly welcomed by Maggie and Alicia. The excellent library system of Los Angeles has provided unlimited opportunities to acclimate here through the Tutoring Program, exhibits, the outstanding Aloud program and the beauty of ordering a book or DVD online and having the convenience of an e-mail notification and a quick trip to my local branch to pick it up.

Thank you, Maggie and Alicia. Thank you, Los Angeles. It’s definitely feeling a lot more like home.

Maggie’s Story by learner Margarita Severiano
I would write a special Valentine message to my tutor. When Alicia assigned Deborah as my tutor, I did not expect to meet someone who was new to Los Angeles and facing more challenges than I have with the English language. I’m a Spanish-speaking woman and Deborah is also a woman but uprooted from New England.

At first I was worried that this former teacher and paralegal was going to be very tough on me and expect too much.

I was right! However, I responded to her challenge and I am so pleased with my progress. She has helped me improve my English skills, including reading and phonetics. -She makes every session interesting, educational and enjoyable. Also, Deborah and I can openly discuss any topic including politics, health, movies, music… She sees my drive and always encourages me to strive forward. I am so grateful to have Deborah both as my tutor and my friend.

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