Need Help Reading, Writing, or Speaking English?

Need Help Reading, Writing, or Speaking English?

If you want to improve your reading, writing, or English-speaking skills, or know someone who does, please contact our office at 434-977-3838.

We offer free one-on-one tutoring for basic literacy, conversational partnering and group classes for non-native English speakers as tutors become available.

Student Stories

Dandapani Pyakurel (Bhutan)

“My Immigrant Story” by Dandapani Pyakurel, featured in the 2014 edition of THE JOY OF WRITING:

In 1991, when I was taking care of the cows and the goats on my family’s farm in Bhutan, I was arrested and sent to jail. I was in jail for six months. The president of Bhutan wanted to send all Nepalis back to Nepal. At 7:00 one morning I got on a truck in Damphu Chirang, Bhutan for India. At the border, there were twenty trucks in line on the road. Bangladeshi truck drivers were fighting with the passengers coming from India.

At 5:00pm, we were at the Nepal border. There was no one from U.N.I.C.E.F. there to meet me. After six months, I moved to a U.N.I.C.E.F. Refugee camp. They brought a kilo of rice, oil, cauliflower, and pumpkin to the refugee camp. I lived under plastic until we built shelters of bamboo.

I lived there with my wife for 17 years. In March 2008, when my daughter, Bidya, was six months old, the camp burned in a big fire and 8,000 people ran into the forest. We lived in the forest for six months until the I.O.M. (International Organization for Migration) helped me and my family come to America in August 2008. My sister went to Ohio, and my brothers to Utah, Arizona, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Three of my uncles went to live in Norway.

It took 27 hours on four airplanes to come to Charlottesville. I was happy, hungry, sick, and scared when I arrived. I came to America for freedom and a better life for myself and my family; now I have two daughters and Bidya helps me practice English.

Pamela Panetta (Argentina)

Pamela’s story in the 2014 edition of THE JOY OF WRITING:

My name is Pamela Panetta and I was born in Argentina. I came to the United States of America in May, 2011. When I arrived here, I was so nervous because I didn’t speak English. That time was so hard for me, but fortunately, I had my husband next to me. He has been studying at UVA here for six years, then he helped me with the language.

During this time, I have met many nice people like my tutor Gail and her husband. She has been a great help to me all this time, when I come back to South America I will miss her so much.

It’s fun living in American culture, because I’m learning a lot about it; for example: food, people, customs, etc. In addition, I have met excellent classmates from different places: South Korea, Mexico, El Salvador, Myanmar, Iraq, etc. Without a doubt, it has been a great experience.

Pick up a copy of THE JOY OF WRITING, our collection of student essays, at the Literacy Volunteers office.