Adult learners, volunteer tutors, members of the Board of Directors and the community gathered for a virtual “Book Launch” on December 10th to celebrate the publication of the Literacy Council of Frederick County’s inspiring new literary magazine, Reflections: Voices of English Learners featuring stories written by our students.
Jim Grissom, President of the Board of Directors, gave his opening remarks, recalling the year’s unprecedented times and the great achievements of our students and tutors despite the difficult year. Executive Director Laurie Fisher and past President Catherine Cox co-hosted the event. Co-editor of the magazine, Catherine Coundjeris, shared the genesis of the magazine and introduced six of the 20 contributing authors who read their work online from the third edition of Reflections. Reflections is a very special publication. It emerges from the minds and hearts of our student body and their perspectives on life in general. Some are English learners and some are English speakers who are improving their reading and writing skills.
Each author introduced themselves and enthusiastically read their published work to the audience: Silvia M. read “Finishing School in a Global Health Pandemic”; Wenfei Z. read her piece, “My Quarantine Time During the Pandemic”; Jacqueline B. shared “Understanding the Homeless”; Rocio C. read “My Great Adventure” and The Perfect Balance”; Lily D. shared “Bragi Dress”; and Amilcar F. read “Knowing the History of the United States”. The audience responded enthusiastically and at the conclusion, many Board members along with co-editor Julie Heifetz shared their deep appreciation for the authors’ great accomplishments. The students taught the attentive audience at the launch event a great deal with their amazing perspectives and astounding insights into the world.
Even though we were unable to hold the book launch at Curious Iguana surrounded by books and sharing refreshments, students were filled with a sense of pride in their accomplishments and warmly voiced their enjoyment of the evening. Catherine Coundjeris shared reactions shared by several students following the event: One student wrote: “I really appreciate the opportunity you gave me, and I can share my story”. Another student wrote, “It was wonderful as always”. Finally, one student wrote: “Actually, I’m the one who learned a lot from you, and I’m grateful for all that you are doing for us.”
Thank you to our sponsors: Marlene and Tom England from Curious Iguana, Jane and John Ketchem, and Spring Ridge Chiropractic for their generous support. Each reader received a journal and gift card to Curious Iguana from Marlene and Tom England. We are in deep gratitude to Betsy Maymon for her amazing artistry as graphic artist for the magazine. In addition, a very great thanks to Karen Richey for her design of the cover and a prominent new web page featuring all three editions: Reflections: Voices of English Learners.
A tremendous thank you is due to co-editors Catherine Coundjeris, volunteer Writing classes instructor and ESL coordinator, and volunteer tutor Julie Heifetz, for your vision and leadership in inspiring and supporting our students.
Everyone is invited to read all three editions now available in digital copies on our dedicated Reflections page on our website!