Literacy students Aihua Zhang (left) and Xing Chen (right) study English with Literacy Council tutor Marta Hiegel (center) at FFB Library.
Imagine relocating to a foreign country and not being able to speak, read or write the language. This is exactly the experience of two women from China who moved to Fairfield Bay with their American husbands. Xing Chen describes how she felt when she first arrived in December of 2004: “I didn’t want to go out shopping or meet people because I couldn’t speak to them. I felt lonely and isolated and I was very uncomfortable. I had great motivation to learn to communicate in English as soon as possible.” Even though she had studied English in the university where she graduated in engineering and architecture in China, her conversational skills were minimal. In May of 2005 she was matched with a trained tutor from Fairfield Bay, Walter Bork. who has been teaching Xing to speak, read, and write English as well as helping her to understand our customs, and culture. “I am so thankful for Mr. Bork,” says Xing. “He has been so helpful to me for such a long time.” Xing has also studied with Fairfield Bay tutor Marta Hiegel since January 2012 at the Fairfield Bay Library. “Marta has given me much encouragement and support in improving my English, and I am gaining more confidence,” says Xing. “My tutors volunteer their time to teach me, and I am very grateful to them and the Literacy Council.” Like Xing Chen, Aihua Zhang moved to the United States from China with little command of conversational English. She arrived in the U.S. in August of 2011, lived a short while in Searcy, and moved to Fairfield Bay the following month. She had started English lessons with the Literacy Council in Searcy, and her husband was driving her back to Searcy twice a week for her lessons during the fall until they saw the Van Buren County Literacy Council notice in the Fairfield Bay Library. Aihua began her English lessons in January of this year at the library with tutor Marta Hiegel. After 8 months of lessons twice each week, Aihua is now able to better communicate. She had studied a little English in China, but “it was too much at once and wasn’t taught very well.” Aihua worked in the accounting department for a public works company in China. “I would like to go to college and learn a new profession when my English skills are good enough,” Aihua says. “Someday I would like to have a permanent job here in the U.S.” In the mean time, she has started a part-time position in child-care. Her immediate goal is to pass her driver’s license test. “I have improved my English so much,” says Aihua. “I appreciate the way the Literacy Council offers English lessons free of charge. And thank you to my tutor, Marta Hiegel.” Thanks to Director Sara Michael and the Fairfield Bay Library. The VBC Literacy Council these free tutoring sessions for over 20 years. The Council is seeking new volunteer tutors and new training classes will be forming soon. Please call Director Brenda Wood at 501-253-1873 to discuss or enroll.