Kee Hnin, a learner in the Literacy Center’s tutoring program, came to the United States with her family just before the pandemic began. Kee and her husband have three children. It was through a Kent County Head Start home visitor that Kee first learned about the Literacy Center’s tutoring program.
When asked why she wants to learn English at the Literacy Center, Kee explained that she had not received proper education in her home country. She wants to learn English not only for her children, but for herself. She wants to be able to stand on her own two feet.
Kee was born in Mindat, a village in a rural area of Myanmar. Like many villages in Myanmar, Mindat has its own traditions, language, and tribe. Kee speaks Burmese, Malaysian, and her local village’s dialect. As a child, she was only able to attend school for a few years because she had to help her family with two farms in different parts of the village. This is why she is so dedicated to helping her own children with their education.
Kee is working hard to learn English so she can help her children with school and look for a job. She not only learns English with a woman from a local church, but also with a Literacy Center tutor, Yilin. Once a month, she and her children attend the Literacy Center’s Family Activity Nights for Head Start families via Zoom.
Like many learners, Kee did not have a computer or access to the internet when she began with the Literacy Center. The Literacy Center lent her a Chromebook, and Yilin helped her access an internet hot spot from the Grand Rapids Public Library. Kee is thankful that she can tutor and participate in the Family Activity Nights without having to leave her home.
When asked about tutoring with Yilin, Kee smiles. She says she appreciates Yilin because she is very patient and helps her a lot. Kee says that Yilin does not give up on her easily and uses several pictures to help her learn. Many of their English lessons are focused on what Kee needs to learn for her family and her children. Her favorite parts are reading and pronunciation.
Yilin shares, "I know Hnin takes pride in talking about her kids, but what makes me proud is that she can talk about them in English now."
Kee says she could barely understand English when she arrived in the U.S., but now she can help her child with her homework and call her children’s school. This has brought her such joy and has helped her self-esteem.