As a student at Penn State University and member of the State College community, I had the unique opportunity to interview a Mid-State Literacy Council student and hear first-hand about the lasting effects of the tutoring and coursework. My interviewee, Lijun, began her journey as a student at Mid-State a number of years ago and reports that she has grown tremendously in that time. Lijun and her husband immigrated to the United States from China to allow her husband to complete schooling at Penn State University. Upon conclusion of his PhD program, Lijun’s husband got a job as a professor and subsequently, the couple moved to the Imperial Towers Apartments where an advertisement for Mid-State Literacy Council caught her eye.

Although Lijun had basic English reading and writing capabilities from her schooling in China that began around age six, she hoped to improve her English to grow accustomed to her new, American life. At Mid-State, she took a literacy placement test and from there, spent a great deal of time with volunteer tutors and teachers, working tirelessly to perfect her English skills. Lijun told me that over the past few years, MSLC has gained more books, added more classes, and changed in a way that has positively influenced the students. After becoming more comfortable with English, Lijun had the opportunity to take courses in writing and academic speaking, general writing, American short stories and more.

This process, though empowering and beneficial, has its challenges as well. According to Lijun, it is quite difficult to write and speak like a native speaker, despite being considered fluent. In addition, the process of learning a language as an adult, as Lijun did, is more demanding as compared to a child who has the ability to acquire native proficiency.

Lijun has learned a remarkable amount from Mid-State and values her experience so much so that she recommended five of her friends to enter the program. It is this ripple effect – on friends, family, schools, and the wider circle around them – that reveals the true impact of one person’s transformation. Through community support and a team of enthusiastic volunteer tutors, Mid-State Literacy Council continues to ensure that students like Lijun continue to receive education and resources to reach their goals and connect to community, thereby making our shared home even richer and more complete for everyone.

By Molly Camp

Mid-State Literacy Council depends on the support of our community.