The Redlands Adult Literacy Program recently published its fourth volume of Our Stories, A Collection of Writings, composed of writings from adult learners enrolled in the Redlands Adult Literacy program. This year’s anthology is especially significant because many of the stories were written by adult learners who worked with their tutors remotely during the pandemic. Diane Shimota, Adult Literacy Coordinator, shared: “The community can celebrate the dedication of tutors and learners who prioritized writing during this difficult year. The anthology is filled with heart-felt and powerful stories, poems, and letters. The commitment to literacy expressed by each participant in the literacy program is evidence of the learners’ resilience.”
The anthology includes learners’ stories of overcoming challenges in their lives, including taking the first step to ask for help with reading and writing, choosing to leave home for a better life, or supporting relatives suffering from the Coronavirus. Manuela Ballesteros described her experiences of the past year in How the Pandemic Affected Me, sharing, “Fear and panic can paralyze you at any time and in any circumstance.” In her story, My Experiences During COVID-19, Maribel Mejia shared her experience as the mother of four children who spent the past year learning remotely from home. “It was stressful for everyone, but I am glad my kids were able to manage this situation and help each other with assignments. Two of my kids play the trumpet; you can imagine how noisy it was, but my other kids didn’t complain too much… they knew how important it was for their brothers to play an instrument.”
Personal stories highlight the authors’ transformative experiences or personal connections to people in their lives. Some learners shared their dreams for the future, their interests, or their important memories. In The Story of “Smallpox,” Yanhong Zhou shared the poignant story of her son’s love for his pet frog, a story that will touch the heart of any parent whose son has experienced love and loss of a pet.
Stories in this collection reflect the wide range of writing levels of adults in the literacy program. Each author worked diligently through the writing process with the assistance of a volunteer tutor. By working with their tutors, learners develop vital literacy skills.
Our Stories, A Collection of Writings, Volumes 1 through 4 are available for checkout at A.K. Smiley Public Library. Additionally, many of the authors who submitted writings for the anthology accepted an invitation to read their stories on videotape and share them with the Redlands community. These stories will be available for viewing soon on the literacy webpage, www.akspl.org/literacy.
Adult learners, their tutors, and the community can celebrate when an adult learner reads their first book or newspaper article, attends a computer class and sends their first email, or writes a letter or story that expresses their hopes and dreams. These literacy skills enable adult learners to step forward to achieve new successes and change their own and their families’ lives. We are grateful for the continued support of the community, the city council, the Library, and the volunteers who make adult literacy, and now family literacy, available in Redlands.
If you would like to volunteer with the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, please contact Diane Shimota, Adult Literacy Coordinator, at (909)798-7565 ext. 4138 or email email@example.com. You can learn more about the adult literacy program by attending the next volunteer tutor orientation scheduled for January 2022. Please contact Diane for more information.
If you know of someone who needs help in reading and writing, please encourage them to take the first step in changing their life by contacting the Redlands Adult Literacy Program. Tutoring is free and confidential.