Students

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.

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

Nidhal Al Sarhan

“Is There Another Chance?”
featured in the 2016 edition of The Joy of Writing

“Is there another chance for me?” I asked myself this question several times every day through the month after I lost my right arm because of a car accident in Baghdad in 1995.

“Try to write.” My wife gave me a pen and paper and said that.

“What!” I said.

“You can do it,” she said.

“I can’t. You know that,” I answered.

“No, I do not,” she said, and added, “You don’t know if you don’t try.” Before she left the bedroom, she said, “If you do not do this for yourself, do it for us, for your family.”

Why did my wife want that? Because she knew me. Writing for me is like water for fish. I could not be a normal person if I did not write again. At that time, there were no computers in Iraq except in the government and a few rich people had them.

I tried to write two or three times, and threw the pen and paper far away. This time was a bad time; I still could not accept the fact that I had lost my right hand. After that, I saw my wife from the window. She was crying. I took the pen and wrote letter-by-letter, word-by-word, day by day until I could write again, and that helped me to be a lot better and gave me hope again.

For six months, I sent many letters to different places; I explained my situation and asked about a job or volunteering. One day, I received a message from Research and Studies Sufi Center. When I went there, I said to myself, “This center is made for me.” What should I do? I just wrote some quotes that were chosen by other people. I was happy because these people were very friendly and the job was exactly what I wanted. After a couple of months, when the supervisor saw my passion through reading and that I understood what they wanted, he made me the person who chose the quotes.

In 1997, I was Assistant Manager, and in 1999, the management moved to another center and I became the new manager. I worked in this center until 2010. Through these fifteen years I was a professor at the Arab Open University for North America.  After I got a Ph.D., I developed a new theory in philosophy.

Today I feel proud of the large projects that we have made, such as an encyclopedia composed of twenty-four volumes, more than twenty small books, and hundreds of research studies and reports. Besides that, I wrote six books about my theory, including “The Final Answers” and “Think Outside the Box.”

I still remember what my wife asked of me and I think, if she had not done that, would my life be as it is now? I do not think so.

Now I can say, “If someday you are broken, just trust someone you love more than anyone and remember there is always another chance.”


Maryam Yousefi

“Maryam’s Story” in the 2015 edition of The Joy of Writing.

I was born in Afghanistan. My parents had a very big farm there. They grew wheat and potatoes.

Now, after living in Iran and Turkey, two of my daughters and I have come to the U.S. where I am learning English. I like the people in Charlottesville. They are soft (not loud) and nice.

The IRC is helping me to have a vegetable garden where I can grow tomatoes, peppers, beans, beets, carrots, and more to sell. Then I can put down roots in Charlottesville…real roots!


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