Winter 2018 Electronic Newsletter

Could you pass the Citizenship Test? BEACON Students Can! Meet Some & Try It for Yourself.
Help BEACON Students Build a Future of Hope: Double Your Donation – Join the Match Campaign Today!
BEACON provides literacy and citizenship classes to an average 350 adult learners each year. A generous donor has pledged to match contributions up to a total of $5,000 until December 31, 2017. Will you help us meet our goal?

Meet a BEACON Student

 “I wanted my kids to go to a good school,” says Tien, a very busy man and a BEACON student. “Schools here are very good. In Vietnam schools are expensive.”

Tien is 59 years old, has three children, and works two jobs. “When I came here, I didn’t have a car; I biked.” In 2015, he became a U.S. Citizen.
His oldest son is married and lives in Colorado, another graduated from Virginia Tech, and his daughter will attend NOVA next year when she graduates from high school. Tien says, “The children learned English very fast. When they came here, at ages three, six, and nine, after one year they speak very well. Now, my youngest doesn’t speak very much Vietnamese. They talk in English at school, with friends.”
For him, though, language is still the most difficult challenge. That is why he has begun coming to BEACON classes. “My manager told me, if you have good English, I’ll give you a better job.”

Students Pursue Employment Goals Thanks to Local Professionals

For all of us, finding employment is critical to survival. But for English language learners, looking for a job can be overwhelming. BEACON students say the biggest challenges for them are the language barrier and leveraging their experience.

In October, with the help of local business professionals, BEACON was able to provide guidance and support.
Michelle Meade from Wells Fargo and Jim Matthews from Express Employment joined BEACON’s employer panel, giving students advice about what they look for in an employee, how to be successful during an interview, and what students can do to set themselves apart. Students like Nazar got to ask questions and share their frustrations. Previously a chemical engineer for 17 years in his native country, he told panelists he was concerned that none of his experience would be valued here because it didn’t take place in the United States.
The panelists were able to share actual success stories of immigrant employees who gained employment because of their experience in their home country.
Later in October, three Wells Fargo branch managers, Michelle Meade, Olya Frouk, and Hugh Jean, provided nine students with invaluable one-on-one practice in creating or improving their resumes.
Ultimately, students said the employer panel was inspiring and very motivational and those who created or improved their resumes found new hope for success in this critical area of need.

Could You Pass the U.S. Citizenship Test? BEACON Students Do!

BEACON volunteer teacher spent just as much time helping her improve her English skills as reviewing the 100 questions on the test for becoming a U.S. citizen. Practice and practical exercises, such as role-playing, mock interviews, and even driving and travel

planning for getting to the test, helped Mari know what to expect. “When my teacher’s tie was straight I had to be serious, like I was in the interview. Then he would put his tie over his shoulder and say ‘I’m not the immigration official now, ask your questions.’ He would answer my questions then put his tie straight and be serious again.”
Although nervous on exam day, Mari passed. “I was very happy.” And, this past June when she was sworn in, she celebrated her success. “My mom came from California with my dad, and my daughter attended too. My entire family took me out to eat after.”
Mari Cruz came to the U.S. from El Salvador. She enrolled in BEACON for Adult Literacy’s U.S. Citizenship exam preparation classes last spring, working one-on-one with a volunteer instructor.  Like many immigrants, Mari worried about the possibility of deportation and being separated from her family. “I feel more secure now as a citizen.” Now she’s ready to take on her next goal; getting her real estate license.

100% of BEACON students who take the citizenship test, pass!

BEACON Celebrates 25 Years

Paving Paths to Education & Citizenship

Alicia arrived in the U.S. from China only three years ago with “zero English.” After two years taking BEACON language courses, she was asked to be the student speaker at BEACON for Adult Literacy’s 25 year anniversary celebration, held in September at Bethel Lutheran Church in Manassas. Alicia expressed her heartfelt gratit

ude to the great, friendly teachers who have helped her so much. The celebration paid tribute to the program’s many dedicated teacher volunteers, donors, grantors, and community partners whose support helps the nonprofit organization provide literacy and citizenship classes to an average 350 adult learners each year. BEACON students come from 46 different countries.
Sister Cecilia Dwyer, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia of which BEACON is a ministry, offered special gratitude in memory of the program’s founder, Sister Eileen Heaps, whose untiring dedication to helping adult English language learners brought the program to what it is today.
Today, BEACON offers eight levels of language instruction for English Language Learners, as well as citizenship preparation, computer training, and even pre-literacy classes for the five percent of BEACON students who have never been to school.

Mark your calendar for our Scrabble Scramble on Saturday, April 14th!

Come join the fun, learn more about BEACON, and test your word-play skills!