Q & A with Helena

Q: Why did you come to Action Read?

A: I couldn’t read. I tried for 17 years and nothing was working for me.

Q: What do you do at Action Read?

A: I have a very good tutor who helps me write my memoirs. When I started here four years ago, I could only write my own name and address. I used to tell my tutor about my life. She wrote it and I’d type it on the computer. I could copy anything that someone wrote down. I couldn’t even use the computer back then, but she helped me learn how to do it. It was so difficult. I’d get so angry when something went wrong that I would get up and leave. But I’m proud of myself that I kept it up, that I didn’t quit. Now I can write my story on the computer by myself and my tutor helps me fix it up. I try to stay ahead of my tutor. I even have a computer at home now.

Q: What excites you about Action Read?

A: The environment. I never dreamed I’d come to a school like this. People are not judgmental and they don’t make fun of the way you read or write. I was a little nervous when I first came here but the staff, volunteers and learners are so positive. Everyone’s here because they want to – nobody tells them they have to go to Action Read. I’m an adult and I want to be treated like an adult. You don’t get a gold star for doing a good job here, you get to learn something you can use out in the world.

Q: How has Action Read changed your approach to learning?

A: If I hadn’t gone through this program, I would be crying, telling you when I was in the orphanage and all the terrible things that happened to me. Writing my life story changed how I look at things. I can talk about my ex-husband and I’m not crying about it. As a matter of fact, I joke around. I had long hair and at one point I cut my hair. Well I joked in my story that he left me because my hair was too short (laughs). I made a joke of it. And I feel wonderful. I’ve learned so much.