In many countries, receiving a basic education is still difficult to obtain. Growing up in Turkey, Seher personally experienced this, and came to highly value education. By reading a lot despite a lack of schooling, she taught herself many things and eventually became a teacher for kindergarten students to ensure that children got the same chance at learning as everyone else. Now, in the United States, her love for learning has shifted towards helping adults or those with special needs, which she hopes to accomplish by one day returning to university.

To succeed in university, Seher knew that she first had to improve her English, which prompted her to attend classes at Mid-State. She says that listening skills have been the hardest to make progress in because of the many different accents and dialects she encounters, but having the opportunity to make conversation with diverse classmates has helped. After a few semesters at Mid-State, Seher is now able to communicate with others and especially loves to have conversations since gaining confidence in her English. She is also motivated to continue learning by her ability to solve problems, such as sending emails and contacting others, on her own for the first time in America.

Since the start of the pandemic, Seher has had much more time to study English at home and finds online classes more convenient in some aspects, such as not having to drive as much. Although it is unfortunate in many other areas, Seher and her classmates have come up with ways to overcome some of them together. For example, instead of meeting in classes each week, they now hold Zoom meetings where they develop presentations about their different cultures and discuss their interests. Seher also attends Book Club over Zoom to learn about American history and spends time reading and writing every day to improve her English.

Seher enjoys the structure that classes give her with homework and practice activities, which remind her to continue making progress and to embrace mistakes as a way to learn. She is especially appreciative of the Mid-State staff and her teachers for constantly encouraging her and providing her the materials she needs to pursue her greater goal of supporting education as a basic right. Through Mid-state, she hopes to improve her English and understanding of American culture to someday return the favor by becoming a teacher again.

by Sara Yi, Mid-State tutor and Penn State student

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