BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Chang to be honored by Literacy NJ
Belleville resident Maritza Chang will be honored for their efforts to advance adult literacy at Literacy NJ’s “Literacy for Life Conference” at Mercer County College in West Windsor on April 22. The adult learner will receive Literacy NJ’s 2017 Student Excellence Award. Literacy NJ, which provides free adult literacy programs and U.S. citizenship classes in eight New Jersey counties, brings together 200 students, tutors, adult educators and board members from across the state for a day of professional development at the conference.
“Our annual Literacy for Life Conference is an opportunity for students, tutors, educators and board members to learn new skills, share experiences, and celebrate the success of our students,” Literacy NJ CEO Elizabeth Gloeggler said in a recent press release. “It is always energizing and exciting to spend the day with students and educators who share a common goal: improving adult literacy in New Jersey. Our participants tell us they leave not only with new ideas but also inspired and with a renewed sense of purpose.”
Chang spoke very little English when she came to the United States from her native Peru a year and a half ago.
Ordering at a fast food restaurant was a challenge. Now she is an advanced-level ESL student and has gotten a new job; she accomplished this by attending ESL classes for eight hours each week at LVA Essex & Passaic Counties’ joint program with Berkeley College in Newark, enrolling in Montclair State University’s ESL classes, and meeting with two LVA tutors for four hours a week.
It’s not unusual for Chang to study English until 2 a.m. or later, after her two daughters have fallen asleep and long after her classes end.
Several months ago, the Bloomfield Public Library recruited Chang to work at the front desk and help patrons borrow books, make inquiries, and obtain and renew their library cards. The job has boosted her self-confidence and brought an additional source of income to her family. She was the driving force behind her family’s relocation to the United States and has helped ease the transition for her children and her husband. Impressed with Chang’s progress, her husband also enrolled in the LVA program and has two tutors as well. Now with her family settled, her long-term plans are to obtain the needed certification to become a child psychologist, her profession in Peru.
Chang has also volunteered in the LVA’s office, where her knowledge of Spanish and English were helpful in fielding phone inquiries, registering students, and making appointments for tests. She has spoken at tutor trainings, explaining how volunteers have changed her life.