News & Blog: Learner Stories


A family growing together through literacy

For Ardany de Leon and Mirna Lopez, nothing is more important than empowering themselves and their three children through literacy and learning. Ardany, Mirna, Ardany Jr., Diego, and Camila regularly volunteer at Kroc Center church events, they work out together through the FitKids On the Run program, and they participate in the Literacy Center’s Family Literacy Program. Ardany and Mirna are changing their own lives and those of their children by all the effort they have put into their tutoring and by becoming increasingly involved in the community.

Mirna began working with her first tutor, the late Dr. John MacKeigan, in 2011. Mirna was dedicated to learning the English language, and John had many creative ideas for helping her improve her skills. He encouraged Mirna to write in a journal daily in English, to submit an article to The Reader (the Literacy Center’s quarterly publication of learner-written articles), and to write text messages to Ardany in English. John commented that Mirna is an “intelligent, motivated, delightful student! She’s very persistent. She’s a good advocate for her children. [She is] much more confident, and she’s proud of her skills.”

Another of Mirna’s goals was to read with her children. “She now has confidence to read nightly to her young kids in English and describe what is happening with the accompanying pictures,” said John. Mirna’s children are her first priority. Through learning English, she has become more involved with their schooling. She can make phone calls in English and enjoys being able to read in English at church. She also enjoys making and selling tamales in her free time.

Ardany has been working with his tutor, Jim Peterson, since 2011. In Guatemala, Ardany was only able to attend school for six years. When he began studying with Jim, Ardany was able to understand English for daily tasks, but he wanted to improve his conversation and reading skills. If you had the chance to speak with Ardany today, you would be met with a man who is fluent in conversation, and has developed extensive reading skills. “[Ardany] is motivated and has a talent for language that many people lack,” said Jim. “He wants to be fluent, as does his wife, in English. He perceives this to be important for his children.”

Through Ardany and Mirna’s unyielding pursuit of empowerment and learning, their children can take advantage of the many opportunities that knowledge and education provide.

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