The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV), one of the Giving Circle of Hope’s 2015 Grantees, held their Annual Recognition Event on Tuesday, June 21 and packed the auditorium of the James Lee Community Center. The yearly event is a celebration of the organization’s learners and an opportunity to thank volunteers and community partners.
A hallmark of the event is the opportunity to hear essay contest winners read their award-winning words in their own voice. This year’s theme, ‘When I Learn English, My Community Grows’ encouraged entrants to explore what community meant to them, how building literacy and language skills broke down barriers and enabled the confidence to participate more actively in their communities.
Among the speakers was a Colombian-born physician who no longer requires translation services at medical conferences and is opening doors for her children; a newly-minted U.S. Citizen from Vietnam who feels full of hope and gratitude for her adopted country; and a Taiwanese learner who is now paying it forward by tutoring American students in Chinese.
The highlight of the evening came when guest speaker, Delegate Mark L. Keam, delivered a rousing and inspiring speech based on his own experiences as a non-native speaker and the first Asian-born immigrant to serve in the Virginia General Assembly. Mr. Keam invoked the spirit of George Mason and stirred emotions when he implored everyone to accept that one language binds and unites us and beseeched the audience to continue their studies. The speech culminated in a standing ovation, the feeling of pride shared by all participants was palpable.
All graduating adult learners were then awarded certificates, followed by volunteer service awards and the joyous crowd then gathered for a reception to toast the occasion.