The Courage to Ask For Help – One Woman’s Journey

Jinhee Laura Cho (Laura) is not someone who you would think needs help with literacy. She’s well educated, loves to read, has a university degree and works as a library technician at a local university. But her resume only tells half the story.

Laura is part of a growing number of people who have come to Canada to live, work and contribute to the growth and diversity of our country. Having lived in Korea her whole life, Laura needed a change. She bravely packed her bags and left behind everything and everyone she knew and loved to start a new life in British Columbia.

Living in Aldergrove with her two aunts, Laura was immediately drawn to the Canadian lifestyle. In her words, “everyone is very accepting and friendly.” She began to meet people, started classes at the University of the Fraser Valley (UVF) and felt as though she made the right decision. However, it wasn’t long before she ran into challenges.

Despite taking English classes at a very early age in Korea, Laura found that she could not communicate effectively with people in the community…something was missing. “Except for my international friends, people could not understand what I (was saying) and I could not understand them. It was very difficult for me.”

Her inability to communicate effectively began impacting everything from her school work, to meeting new people to finding work; things that people who live literacy challenges experience every day!

Highly intelligent, enthusiastic and motivated, she decided she was going to do something about it. She looked to a community-based literacy program, and was matched with an adult language tutor. Almost immediately, she began to see results.

“Right away my tutor was able to explain things to me. She was so helpful and made me feel confident.”

Laura’s confidence and hard work began to pay off and her literacy skills began to improve drastically. “I began reading more, I understand English writing better, I’m able to use proper phrases when at work and it’s helping me understand Canadian culture.”

Today, Laura is working as a Library Technician at the UFV and it is all because she was brave enough to ask for help. Humble and gracious, she will tell you in a heartbeat that her success is due to one thing – her tutor, Sharon.

“My success is due to my tutor. I needed English to study. I needed English to work. I needed English to make friends. Language is everywhere. It is culture … and she helped me become part of Canadian culture.”

Laura’s story is one of many success stories that are possible due to your support of literacy programs. Her story was submitted to our Literacy is Life contest through our partner organization, Literacy Matters Abbotsford. If you’d like to submit a story and enter our contest, please click here.

Click here to return to The Decoder, September 2016 Edition.
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