Words on the Page: Times Are Hard But I Can Make It

Post date: Mar 2, 2012 1:44:32 AM

By Leslie Reese, RAO Co-facilitator

“Words on the Page”---the annual event which brings together the Literacy Chicago community for a public reading--was held on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 in the beautiful 2nd floor ballroom of the Chicago Cultural Center. Adult Literacy(AL) and English as a Second Language(ESL) students braved their way to the podium and took charge of the microphone to deliver original essays and poems inspired by the 2012 theme: Times Are Hard But I Can Make It. One student even sang original song lyrics! A rich mix of students, instructors, administrators, tutors, volunteers, family and friends sat enrapt as adult learners read from their beautifully-bound, 154-page text published by Windy City Press.

After welcoming remarks from Literacy Chicago’s Interim Director, Carolyn Day; AL Director, June Porter; GED instructors Jan Derrick and Andrea Kelton; a representative from Windy City Press spoke about the press’s pride in sponsoring publication of the book Times Are Hard But I Can Make It. Then, one by one, students took to the stage to read, expressing humility as well as confidence. Their stories dramatized the journey to succeed despite obstacles and discouragements. They spoke of rock-solid spiritual faith, supportive environments, guts, and friendship. They shared their hopes that learning a new language, reading, writing, welcoming new experiences, and gaining independence would help their families to succeed. Program Manager Jaye Jones made sure that students and tutors were easy to spot by giving them starred ribbons that said “Remarkable” to wear; while Office Manager Marilyn Murchison used a smart phone to videotape the whole program!

Later, students in RAO talked about the “Words on the Page” event. They agreed that despite feeling nervous, it felt good to read their own words publicly. They learned a lot about themselves, and felt proud to have something to share with the larger community. Some said they felt like “diplomats” and “stars” who are “sensitive to nature and the environment” and ready to “get involved!” in strengthening their communities by voting and making their voices heard.