September 25, 2018
Literacy Council launches its first literary magazine – Reflections – Voices of English Learners
Curious Iguana Bookstore hosted the Literacy Council’s launch of its first literary magazine, Reflections – Voices of English Learners. The magazine is a compilation of stories, poems, and art written by Literacy Council students with their new English skills. At the event on September 25, 2018, student authors read from their work before an audience of their volunteer tutors and community members.
The Literacy Council’s English as a Second Language (ESL) students come to the Council to increase their English proficiency and improve their lives in the U.S. They come from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. Catherine Coundjeris, volunteer writing class instructor, has the privilege of working with them on their journeys of discovery. Their voices are filled with hope and integrity in spite of the great difficulties and challenges many of them have faced. Catherine was touched when one of her students shyly revealed her goal of writing and publishing a memoir. It was her words as well as the efforts of other students that made Catherine realize they deserved to have their voices heard. She decided that creating a literary magazine would give them concrete encouragement and the impetus to continue to tell their stories and strive for higher achievements.
Catherine was joined in this effort by volunteer tutor and author Julie Heifetz. Graphic designer Betsy Gaymon contributed the graphic work. High school student Stella Henson helped to raise funds to cover publishing costs from the proceeds of writing and directing a play this past summer for Backyard Kids’ Theatre, and the Frederick Writers Group also contributed.
At a reception in October honoring members of the Literacy Council’s new Literacy Giving Societies, seven students read from their work and presented copies of Reflections to the evening’s honorees.
The following is an excerpt from the Reflections Foreward, by Julie Heifetz:
“The Literacy Council of Frederick County is home to 280 students from 44 countries who live and work in Frederick County and 130 dedicated tutors who are their partners in learning. But those numbers tell us nothing about the individual lives, dreams, struggles and joys that pass through our door every day. Each student has a story to tell. Telling those stories with their newly learned English skills requires courage. In these pages of our first edition of the Literacy Council’s Reflections: Voices of English Learners, readers can see beyond the statistics about our students’ accomplishments, and benefit from the lessons they have to teach us through their experiences. No matter what the country of origin, writers and artists of these collected stories, poems and art are more like us than they are different. The details of our experiences are unique and individual, but there is something universal about them because of the feelings that inspire them. We are grateful for the glimpses of these students we get through their stories, and to the tutors who helped give them voice”.