Benson employee reads latest work at community event
April 27, 2017
After years of struggling to read and write confidently, local residents were given a platform to share their own written works.
On April 23, Read Santa Clara, an adult and family literacy program through the City of Santa Clara, hosted an emotional annual event at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts.
The event included public readings of personal works by adult learners, as well as award presentations to inspirational students and their tutors.
Each year, the adult learners have their writings published and mass-printed in a bound book.
Among the learners is longtime Benson Memorial Center worker Daciano Silva.
At the event, Silva read his personal work, “We All Have the Power to Make Change,” in which he detailed the importance of helping others and the need for self-improvement.
“We the people have the power to make a difference,” Silva said. “We should provide more opportunities for students with learning disabilities, like having job fairs to give them better chances in life through more choices of good-paying jobs.”
Silva’s piece primarily referred to his own personal experiences with self-improvement.
He discussed how his learning disability hindered his ability to attend college or earn a high-paying job, and he thanked Read Santa Clara for giving him the confidence to tell his story.
“We have the power to improve opportunities for all people with learning disabilities. We all have the power to make change,” Silva said as he pounded the podium to close the final speech of the event.
The learners are paired with volunteer tutors who assist and encourage them to express themselves through the art of writing.
The theme of this year’s event prompted learners to write about something in their life that left a lasting impression.
“What made a difference in my life? I met this beautiful young girl standing and watching some young men play ball,” said 93-year-old third place winner Moses Priester. “Our marriage lasted for 57 years, three months, and 14 days before she went home to be with the Lord.”
Of the 31 students that submitted a story for the contest, 24 shared their stories with the audience last Saturday.
Each story was unique, and given the diversity of submissions, organized into a different category. Some of the categories included “People Who Care,” “Things We Love,” and “Learning Journey.”
The first place prize went to Susan Seo’s “Understanding Life,” second place went to David M. Lopez’s “A Day in the Life of John Hanna” and third place went to Moses Priester’s aforementioned “The Difference in My Life.”
The event also recognized the volunteer contributions that allowed the adult learners to express their stories through written word.
They were commended for their work, and audience members were encouraged to become tutors themselves.
The adult literacy movement is accredited to Ruth Colvin, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
While she was unable to attend the event, she sent her well-wishes.
The event organizers made it clear that her model of one-on-one tutoring between trained volunteers and these adult learners has been instrumental in Read Santa Clara’s success.
“Yes, it is indeed life-long learning,” Colvin said in the program given to all attendees. “Now that now that I’m 100-years-old, I’m still learning, day by day, week by week, and hopefully year by year.”
Contact Grant Pustelnik at gpustelnik@ scu.edu.