In August, the Literacy Center of West Michigan welcomed Dr. Yilin Wendland-Liu as the new director of the Adult Tutoring Program (ATP). In her role, she leads the founding program of the Literacy Center—one that is designed to connect community members who have a desire to improve their English and literary skills with volunteer tutors. The pairs work one-on-one to address the learner’s personal goals.
Having been a college professor for several years, teaching Mandarin and Chinese literature, history, culture and, at times, East Asia culture, Yilin understands the challenges and successes adult learners face in learning a new language. Speaking of her experience with college students learning a second language, she says, “I think one of the most rewarding moments for me as a language teacher was seeing how some of the students came in with zero background in Chinese language, in Mandarin, and then towards the end of the year, being able to conduct a conversation, speak the language, engage in daily conversation, write simple compositions, and understand.”
Yilin was born in China and came to the United States to pursue higher education. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature, a master’s degree in Chinese (Early Philosophy), and a doctorate in Chinese (Late Imperial Cultural and Religious Practice). Prior to joining the Literacy Center, Yilin taught at Grand Valley State University.
On weekends, Yilin volunteers her time at Grand Rapids Chinese Language School, where she has served as the school provost and then principal for over four years. It was while volunteering at the nonprofit that she began to consider work in the nonprofit world, which led her to the Literacy Center.
As Yilin says, “My experience combined with my passion attracted me to the Adult Tutoring Program and makes me feel like this is where I want to be. And this is where I want to make a positive impact on our learners’ and tutors’ lives.”
Yilin looks forward to the mission ahead, “I want to be able to play a small role in those adults’ lives and help them see the other side of their own story.”