Celebrating Our Journey

About the project

The project was envisioned to encourage new readers to take another leap in their learning process, to put pen to paper, and to write their stories of growth and discovery to share with others.

The ability to communicate is the ability to connect to our own history, our families, and the world.  The stories in these collections celebrate the power of adults who improved their ability to communicate by learning to read as adults.

This project is funded  by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act.

View the 2021 publication of Celebrating our Journey, Volume 12.

Foreword

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ Literacy Resource Office has been reporting some great successes in recent years. Whether it’s the national recognition of our Health Literacy grant project, or the inspiring stories of our immigrant neighbors who have gained U.S. citizenship with the help of ESL and naturalization assistance supported by ODL, there has been a lot to applaud.

We have to admit, though, that there is something really special about Celebrating our Journey, ODL’s periodic collection of writings by adult learners. In these pages, students put their new writing skills to work, communicating their feelings on a variety of topics: the dreams they have and how those dreams now seem within reach; the family, friends, and mentors who have made a difference; the meaning of home, and the wonders of travel.

In this volume, for the first time, we also hear from instructors and literacy tutors, who share how profoundly fulfilling they find their work with adult learners. The past year has been an especially challenging time, and a few of the writers do reference the COVID-19 pandemic. More than anything, though, these stories are filled with pride and optimism. New skills are being mastered, and new doors of opportunity are opening. The future is looking brighter.

Please join us in celebrating these stories of courage, growth, and triumph.

Melody Kellogg
Director, Oklahoma Department of Libraries

 

From Cuba to America

Osbel Ortiz has been studying English as a second language with the Hollis class of Great Plains literacy program for 3 years. After much effort and preparation, he passed the naturalization test and was approved to take the oath to become a US citizen on May 14, 2021.

Osbel left his home country of Cuba in 2014. His grandfather gave him the money for his trip to the United States by selling his house in Cuba. Osbel’s dream as a youth was to live in a noncommunist country with the freedom to work and be responsible for making his own choices in his life.

He says, “Life in this country gives me the opportunities I would have never encountered in my own country of Cuba.”

He began his first job in the United States wearing clothes and shoes that were given to him by the family who also gave him a place to stay. He worked several manual labor jobs so he could obtain his CDL license and started to learn to speak English with friends helping him until he was able to start taking ESL classes with the Harmon County Great Plains Literacy Council in 2018. He enjoyed the socialization in the naturalization class, listening to the history lessons of the United States in comparison to other countries of the students also attending. He applied himself fully until he was able to apply for his citizenship. Every step of his journey has helped him reach his goals to receive citizenship in the midst of the COVID–19 pandemic and achieve what his grandfather sacrificed so long ago.

“I greatly appreciate all the help I have received since I came to the United States and know the decision my grandfather and I made years ago was the right one.”

Osbel Ortiz
Great Plains Literacy Council, Altus/Harmon County