Friday, March 4, 2011

Project Literacy: Focus on Yunji Zhu

Howard County
Library Project Literacy

Project Literacy started in 1987 as a program for students who didn't get a chance to complete their high-school education, with tutoring done by volunteers, according to Emma Ostendorp, the library's adult literacy coordinator. She oversees the program, which is funded in part by a $250,000 state grant. "They come from 38 different countries, and they're learning basic math, reading and writing skills, either through one-on-one tutoring or in a class setting," said Christie Lassen, spokeswoman for the county library system. "Through that, we've had 136 students who've received their high school diplomas, and 118 have become United States citizens."

Many of the students are there just to improve themselves, she said.

"What's heartwarming about this is that the vast majority are international students. They've come here from other countries and are trying to learn English and are working multiple jobs and trying to raise families," Lassen said.

My friendship with Yunji. I started tutoring Yunji Zhu in 2008 and we are still together in 2011, but not as frequently. She recently passed the citizenship test, then recounted at one of our Fall meetings--smiling--how she had climbed aboard a dollar bus to NYC, got off at the waterfront, walked a mile or so to a cruise ship, then sailed to Nassau with a friend. That just amazed me because, well, it just did! Yunji is the most energetic and “together” person I know; she reads, walks two hours a day, has a vegetable garden and is an expert gardener, and is involved in her Bible study and, of course, family.

This is a letter of gratitude she wrote recently to Adult Literacy Coordinator, Emma Ostendorp, shown here at her desk.


Thanks for your Howard County ESL class three years to provide me ample opportunity to learn English, let me improve the quality of life and enhance the physical and mental health. In particular, individual counseling and tutor Kay's patience, so I was able to successfully pass a citizenship test.

I think that now, there are many people who need these opportunities, and I will continue to adhere to Monday and Tuesday class learning, and at the same time, the tutoring, but less frequently than once a week.

And let me express my deep gratitude to Kay again.

Your student YunJi Zhu

About Project Literacy:

Howard County Library's Project Literacy, a highly successful adult education initiative, is made possible by grant funding from the Maryland State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Library instructors and volunteer tutors have taught 6,100 adults since 1987. Representing 38 countries, the students learn basic math, reading and writing skills through free, one-on-one tutoring and class sessions. One hundred forty-two students have received their high school diplomas, and 121 have become U.S. citizens.

Who qualifies for HCL Project Literacy?
Any adult who lives or works in Howard County, who is not currently enrolled in a formal K-12 program, and who does not have a high school diploma or equivalent is eligible. Our teaching environment comprises two levels: one-on-one instruction and small group instruction.

More than half the students enrolled in group instruction are Spanish speaking adult family members of children in the Howard County Public School System. These students attend classes at designated locations, where free child care is provided.

What is the cost of tuition for students?
Student tuition is paid through federal grant funding and generous donations made each year to Howard County Library for the continuation of HCL Project Literacy.

Who teaches HCL Project Literacy students?
Howard County Library instructors and volunteer tutors teach students. Library instructors train volunteer tutors and supervise them throughout their assignment. Volunteer tutors are asked to work two to four hours per week with an assigned student and make a commitment of at least six months.

Last year, volunteers and teachers provided 9,500 hours of tutoring to 143 students in the tutorial program and 405 students in the ESL program.

How often are students tutored?
Students receiving one-on-one instruction study with their tutor two to four hours per week. Students participating in the small-group sessions attend classes twice a week, for a total of six hours.

Where do students and tutors meet?
Tutors hold one-on-one sessions at HCL's Central Branch. Students and tutors arrange mutually convenient times. While most tutoring occurs during the day, evening sessions are available. Group instruction classes meet in various locations.

How can I learn more?
Emma Ostendorp
Central Branch
10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy
Columbia, MD 21044
Phone: 410-313-7900

Much of this feature was captured from an online description of Project Literacy.

Kay Weeks

No comments: