Beatriz Garcia, community leader in Novato, CA, talks about her transformation from isolation to engagement, and how her library-based literacy program helped.
I wasn’t happy with myself being at home, in my house, watching TV. I thought, this is not something that’s good for me, I want something more, I want to grow. When we feel isolated, we need to look for help. At first I was embarrassed. I thought I should do it by myself, that it’s not okay to ask for help. But I was wrong. We need other people.
I knew about the Marin Literacy Program at the library. When I started with my tutor Harriet she inspired me a lot and pushed me to do things that I’d never think to do before. She asked me what things were pushing me down, and I said because I didn’t speak English. She said, “But you can speak English now!” I was very unsure of myself, and she helped me with my self-esteem, I didn’t want to be hiding under my rock, I wanted to go out.
Now I feel like a bird out of a cage, because I can do many things that I didn’t do before.
First I registered to take classes at College of Marin to learn English, then I started a new job and working to become a citizen. My tutor helped with the whole process and all the applications, practicing my conversation so that I would feel confident at my interview. Then the next step was to get my drivers license. Now I feel like a bird out of a cage, because I can do many things that I didn’t do before. I can work, I can drive myself there and I can communicate, that’s the best part. My son has helped me a lot because I want him to be proud of me. You have to be an example for your son and be proud of yourself.
I am working as an assistant in the Montessori school helping the teacher. At the school I help them with reading, putting together and preparing information that goes home, and translating all the information, making sure everything is in English and Spanish. There are a lot of parents that don’t speak English, and I help them talk to the secretary and principal, as a translator. If they have concerns, they come to me. Now I am working hard at school to become a registered nurse.
Beatriz is also the PTA president of her son’s school. She started a homework club after school and next year plans to help open a day care program there as well.
Beatriz is a graduate of the Adult Learner Leadership Institute and serves as a peer mentor to other adult learners. She also received an award from WE LEARN and has been published in Women’s Perspectives: A Journal of Writing & Art by Adult Learners. Check it out here!