Below is the report’s introduction from Dr. Wendy V. Falb, Executive Director.
A message from the Executive Director
West Michigan is a community of immigrants. In fact, English is not the first language for 90% of the learners we serve at the Literacy Center. Khadija, one of our learners from Somalia, recently passed her citizenship test. She has been studying the material with a laser focus since she started working with her tutor a year ago. Khadija utilized the rich support materials from the Literacy Center and also took it upon herself to follow the local and national news closely. Her tutor, a self-proclaimed “political junkie,” often said that Khadija knew more about politics than any native-born citizen. Passing her test was cause for great celebration for all the obvious reasons, but also because Khadija was living with a deep fear that, despite being a refugee, she might be cast out of the country because of today’s political climate.
All of us who support and serve the Literacy Center’s mission understand that the economic and social vitality of our region is dependent upon the extent to which we access and nurture the rich assets of our immigrants. Indeed, this has always been the case in our country. “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture, and the arts.” This is as true today as it was in the late eighteenth century when James Madison wrote this.
As contentious debates over immigration policy rage in our political sphere, the Literacy Center is committed to strengthening the assets of our immigrants through tutoring, through family literacy classes in the schools, and through workplace literacy classes. A huge thanks to our donors, board, staff, volunteers, advocates, and learners. Together we are “bringing about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy.”