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Two blind LCH members learn English from Kendal volunteer

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If you stop by the lobby of Kendal Retirement Community on a Tuesday, you are likely to see a group of four sitting and talking quietly. But they are doing more than just chit-chatting. Two of them are native Spanish speakers who are learning English, and they are both blind.

Diana lost her vision six years ago as a result of an accident, and Ana lost her vision due to a chronic illness fourteen years ago.  Both have been working hard to function and succeed day to day.  They know that mastering English is an important step to achieve independence, so they came to LCH to ask for help with finding an English tutor.  Diana had come to LCH in the past for medical care and for social assistance, so she knew that LCH would be able to help.

LCH connected Diana and Ana to Ruth, a retired teacher who now lives at Kendal.  In her teaching days, Ruth taught English and Spanish in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, so was the perfect fit for these students.  The fourth member of this little group is Ana’s husband Marco, who drives Ana and Diana to the sessions and who supports Ruth with her lessons as an unofficial assistant teacher as well as enjoying the opportunity to learn some formal grammar.  They have been meeting since January.

“Understanding a language is even more challenging when you need to identify words, relate them to your native language, and remember them, all without seeing them,” said Ruth.  “I have been amazed by these women’s heart and courage.”  Ruth takes the different education experiences she has had throughout her career to build on her weekly lesson plans for these special students. Photo of a tutor teaching English at a table to two women who are blind.

Marco sees how important it is for his wife to have this experience, and for Ana to learn English in order to gain confidence during her medical appointments.  “She is on dialysis.  There are many times there are no Spanish speakers in the medical office,” said Marco.  “I cannot always stay for the whole appointment to help her. By learning English, she can be more confident to ask questions, to explain how she is feeling, and to understand what is going on.”  Marco learned English through his job in landscaping.

Diana also fully appreciates the importance of learning English and how her second language can help her gain more independence.  She has two small children in the local elementary school and she wants to be able to support them in every way that she can as they continue to grow up in this community.  She would also like to find opportunities to help others.

Diana and Ana are grateful for the time that Ruth gives to them for the tutoring sessions.  “Everything is great.  Ruth is very patient with us,” said Diana.  “It is the teacher in me,” said Ruth.  “I could not think of a better way to spend a Tuesday morning.  I finish each session absolutely inspired.”

Please note: The LCH members of this story prefer to remain anonymous so different names are used in place of their real names.